Last updated: February 16. 2013 5:32PM - 605 Views

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KINGSTON ?? Maureen Lewis will be 62 in September, and the Kingston woman ?? like many fellow baby boomers ?? is concerned whether Social Security will be there throughout her life.


Lewis worked in health care for 37 years and took an early pension option. She suffered a slight stroke that affected her speech and, as she says, ??I can??t write as well as I used to.?


Lewis says she can??t go back to work.


??What do I do?? she asked. ??I hadn??t really thought about filing for Social Security, but I decided to sign up. My checks start on Nov. 14.?


It??s this uncertainty that affects Lewis and many others her age as the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement age.


A recent survey by the American Association of Retired People, AARP, found retirement prospects were the major driver of economic anxiety among 1,852 registered voters questioned, including 1,331 ages 50 and older.


The AARP survey found:


? 72 percent of non-retired boomers believe they will probably be forced to delay retirement, and 50 percent have little confidence they will ever be able to retire.


? 65 percent have little confidence they will have the means to live comfortably in retirement.


? 59 percent fear the negative effects of the economic downturn on their retirement savings will force them to rely more heavily on Social Security and Medicare -- programs they are concerned that elected officials aren??t doing enough to protect.


Trula Hollywood, executive director at the Area Agency on Aging, said many senior citizens return to the workplace after they ??retire? because Social Security doesn??t meet their needs.


??We see many retirees going back to work,? Hollywood said. ??And we help them find jobs.?


Hollywood??s agency has a Senior Employment Program that allows people to be trained in certain areas to help them find both full-time and part-time positions.


??They??re trying to make their Social Security stretch by working again,? she said. ??And they are worried that Social Security might run out.?


Carol Elston made her decision to retire and she says she will never look back. Elston, who will turn 65 this month, said contemplating retirement is not just about Social Security.


??It??s about retirement,? she said. ??When you retire, life begins again.?


Elston said too many people worry needlessly about Social Security and its future. She said anyone nearing retirement should start looking into what??s available to senior citizens.


Elston retired less than a month ago from Pride Mobility in Exeter. The Kingston resident said she hasn??t applied for Social Security yet ?? she will wait until she turns 66.


??If I sign up now, I would receive a lot less,? she said.


Most women in her age bracket and position ?? single and living alone ?? need to seek part-time work, she said.


??I will consider that in the future,? she said. ??It??s a big change for me after working full-time for so many years.?


Elston said she intends to get involved within her community. She is a frequent visitor to the Kingston Senior Center ?? a resource that she believes should be high on the list for all retired and soon-to-be-retired people.


But as the days go by, Elston said she has a lot to think about. She talks to friends her age, but most of them are married.


??With two incomes, it makes a big difference,? she said.


Bill O??Boyle, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7218.

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