Retiring Gen X-ers to Face Empty Government Coffers in 19 Short Years

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Donna Jill Johnson isn't saving money for her retirement, because she can't afford to.

"I have three adult children and 13 grand kids," Jones told MainStreet. "I don't feel prepared at all to retire."

The 48-year-old has worked thirty years, but Social Security payments may not be enough when it comes time to quit earning for good.

"I feel frightened, because there may not be any Social Security money left over," said Jones who works as a nurse's aid in Texas. "By the time it's my turn to retire, I'll still be working part-time."

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Other than her descendants, Jones has nothing to count on except her ex-husband's social security benefits.

"That's if he passes away before me," said Jones who has since re-married.


Gen Xers are shouldering more responsibility for funding their own retirement years than ever before. That's because the uncertain future of Social Security is redefining how individuals think about retirement.

Read More: The Social Security Mistake More Than One-Third of Retirees Are Making

"Retirement will not mean the same thing for this generation as it did for their parents or grandparents, which is personal savings, a sizeable company pension check and a dependable Social Security payment," said James Nichols, head of retirement income and advice strategy for retirement solutions at Voya Financial.

The combined Social Security retirement and disability trust funds are projected to be exhausted in 2033, according to this year's Social Security Trustees Report. Gen X-ers who are in their 40s now will be entering their sixth and seventh decade right around 2030, making them the most immediate, vulnerable generation of all.

"It certainly makes it difficult to plan," said Cathy Weatherford, president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI).