WASHINGTON — In a nation mired in pessimism, pre-retirement Americans 50 and older hold the darkest views about their financial situation — and least hopeful that it would get any better in the near future.
That’s the upshot from a survey released Wednesday by AARP. The national telephone survey of 1,852 registered voters found acute anxiety among all Americans over their economic prospects.
For instance, 28 percent of the over-50 workers expect to have to keep earning a paycheck forever. Another 22 percent were only somewhat confident that they could retire eventually. Even among Americans ages 18 to 49, 16 percent believe they can never afford to retire.
At the same time, three of five Boomers said they will rely more on Social Security and Medicare to get through their golden years.
That could prove financially ominous for Medicare, which provides health coverage for 50 million Americans 65 and older. As with other health-care spending, Medicare’s outlays have grown faster than the economy for years, straining both the treasury and seniors’ pocketbooks. Payroll taxes, which covered 70 percent of Medicare benefits paid in 1980, will cover just 35 percent this year.
AARP, the leading advocacy organization for older Americans, has made preserving Medicare and Social Security benefits a top legislative priority.
The survey also found that voters 50 and older are evenly split for President Obama and Mitt Romney at 45 percent each, with 10 percent undecided. But support for Romney was more pronounced among whites (53 percent vs. 37 percent for Obama), men (51 percent-38 percent) and people who were insecure about their future (57 percent-30 percent).
The survey’s core national sample of 1,001 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.