LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - As many baby boomers move toward retirement, many wonder how long Social Security can be sustained, but regardless, experts say no one should rely on it as their primary source of income.
Every year, the U.S. government distributes about $15.6 billion worth of Social Security benefits in the state of Wisconsin. It may seem like a lot of money, but as retirees start living longer, they have to find other ways to make their money last longer.
Roland Solberg entered the workforce at the age of 16.
"My first job was working in a dairy; I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot," said Solberg.
He didn't start off making much, and Solberg admits he wasn't the best at saving either.
"I was not financially sound but I certainly learned as I went along," said Solberg.
Solberg said his job forced him to start saving for the future.
"Traditionally, people used to have a lot of pension plans where the employer would provide a steady stream of income throughout retirement," said Sam Wilson, director of AARP Wisconsin.
"You look at your check and you see a portion of that that you couldn't spend was going for something that seemed so far off, and it was a really wonderful thing because it started you down that path," said Solberg.
However, that isn't the case anymore.
"There are fewer opportunities for retirement through the employer being offered," said Solberg.
"A lot of people nowadays have 401(k)s. They may have contributed and their employer contributed, but it isn't necessarily an income that you can rely on through your entire retirement years," said Wilson.
The fear of not having enough money to last through retirement is a concern that many are facing.
"Look at your Social Security, look at your pension and look at your savings. If those don't add up, it may be time to think about how you can stay in the workforce," said Wilson.
And experts say it's never too early to start thinking about the future.
"It's not soon enough, once you get to retirement, to start thinking about 'how am I going to do this?' It really has to start much sooner than that," said Wilson.
Take it from Solberg, who has been retired for 20 years, it's a lot closer than you think.
Experts say the key to a good retirement plan includes a mix of options -- for example, Social Security, a personal savings account and some employment benefits as well.
About 96 percent of senior citizens in Wisconsin receive Social Security benefits, while 93 percent receive the benefits in Minnesota.
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