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Four in 10 plan to delay retirement

Is your retirement plan on track?

If not, you're in good company. Some 40 percent of U.S. workers say they're going to have to delay retirement because they can't afford to stop working, according to a survey released this week by consultants Towers Watson.

The biggest reasons cited were the losses suffered in their retirement savings and the need to maintain company-sponsored health care coverage.

"The economic crisis has had a deep effect on employees' attitudes toward retirement and especially on risk," said David Speier, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson. "Workers continue to have a fear that they won't be able to afford retirement."

Most of those who plan to retire later figure they'll have to work at least three years longer than they previously planned. Two-thirds say they're paying down debts. More than half have cut back on their daily spending, the survey found.

Boomers headed for retirement are also worried about the Social Security trust fund that many of them are counting on to supplement their battered personal retirement plans. The financial health of the fund is getting renewed interest as the midterm election campaign generates dire warnings about politicians playing fast and loose with the money set aside to pay these benefits.

But a closer look finds that the Social Security trust fund isn't far off track, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. A recent report points out that the fund is in good shape in the short term, but faces a shortfall of about 0.7 percent of GDP over the next 75 years.

That means that - like any retirement plan - the trust fund needs to be updated to keep it in good financial health. That's exactly what President Ronald Reagan and Congress did in 1984, when the fund began running surpluses to help offset the coming wave of boomer retirees.

In the meantime, the money is stashed in Treasury securities "that are every bit as sound as the U.S. government securities held by investors around the globe," the report noted. "Investors regard those securities as being among the world's very safest investments."