America’s new retirement reality

COVID and demographic trends foreshadow challenges to a financially secure retirement

Voya Cares has been watching the demographic and societal trends shaping our country — especially two fast-growing groups who have been particularly impacted by the pandemic: Sandwich Caregivers and Career Extenders.

“Sandwich Caregivers” provide unpaid care to an adult while also caring for children living in their home. As of 2019, there were 11 million of them or 28% of all caregivers**.

"Career Extenders" are working longer because they either enjoy the stimulation that their careers provide or do not have the resources to retire. Nearly 20% of Americans over age 65 — a total of 10.6 million people — are either working or looking for work, representing a 57-year high.+

Our just-launched position paper digs in to the emerging trends that are causing these two groups to grow, examines how their futures are being impacted, and most importantly, proposes how we can help them prepare for a secure financial future.

Traditional advice urges Americans to begin preparing early for retirement, targeting 80% of their pre-retirement annual income over a 25 year retirement period, and planning for an annual withdrawal of 4% of total investments++. However that advice misses the mark for Career Extenders and Sandwich Caregivers.

The Voya Cares® program recognizes, however, that many of the tenets of special needs financial planning can be applied for these two groups, emphasizing the use of government benefits in coordination with employee benefits to supplement available assets.

The first step on the road to a secure retirement is awareness and education to help both those in the financial services industry, as well as Career Extenders and Sandwich Caregivers themselves, recognize their unique circumstances. Educational materials and step-by-step guidance tailored to their unique challenges should be readily available when and where they need them.

Education and guidance must be backed up with tangible, specific solutions needed to help Sandwich Caregivers and Career Extenders prepare a long-term plan for the future. The following existing or developing solutions may be particularly useful:

  • Employee benefits offerings, like medical insurance coverage, health savings and flexible spending accounts, leave management programs, employer-paid back-up care and employee assistance programs can help to free up resources for retirement savings while positively impacting quality of life.
  • Government benefits offerings may provide assistance with income, medical, residential, educational and vocational needs. Coordinating employee and government benefits may help better leverage existing assets.
  • Debt mitigation programs, especially student loan debt, can be particularly helpful for people who are nearing retirement, since they have the greatest debt.
  • Emergency savings solutions enable individuals to build retirement savings while also being able to absorb short-term financial shocks and disruptions in income.
  • ABLE accounts can be a great way to set aside savings for eligible children and adults with disabilities, lessening the need for withdrawals from accounts earmarked solely for retirement.
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and Roth IRAs are ways to put away money outside of a pension plan to supplement retirement income, and the income paid out from Roth IRAs also is tax free to help boost “take-home pay” in retirement.

To learn more about how Sandwich Caregivers and Career Extenders are unique in the challenges that they face when planning for their future health and wealth and how and the Voya Cares program is distinctively positioned to lead the conversation addressing these challenges, see America’s new retirement reality: COVID-19 amplifies demographic and societal trends, foreshadowing challenges that more Americans will face on the road to a financially secure retirement.

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*Schneider, Mike. ”By 2060, a quarter of U.S. residents will be over age 65.” February 13, 2020. By 2060, a quarter of U.S. residents will be over age 65 (

**“Burning the Candle at Both Ends: Sandwich Generation Caregiving in the U.S.”, The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), November 2019.

+According to the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), analyzed by investment and financial-planning firm United Income and reported in Business Insider, April 29, 2019: Loudenback, Tanza. “One-fifth of older Americans are working past 'retirement age’, and it’s not because they can’t afford to retire.”

++Waggoner, John. “How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?” AARP, Jan. 6, 2021.