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If you are among the 5.7 million nurses planning to retire by 2030, you may wonder about the average retirement income to see how you compare.  And you may wonder how to improve your retirement income.  In this article, we’ll explore retirement income.  You’ll discover the national average retirement income and tips that aim to improve yours.


What Makes Up Retirement Income?

Before we reveal the national average, let’s explore what makes up retirement income because it can come from many sources.  These sources include pensions, employer contribution plans, annuities, savings, investments like annuities, employment, and social security benefits.

Social Security and the Average Retirement Income

By far, an easy way to compare your average retirement income with others is by using the Social Security data. Considering 9 out of 10 Americans 65 and over receive benefits, we can get the National average retirement income from the Social Security data.  In December 2023, the average monthly retirement income from Social Security was $1821.04.  That’s around $21,852.48 a year.  To qualify for Social Security benefits, you need to work at least 40 quarters.  For a full-time nurse, that’s 10 years.  And Social Security takes an average of your 35 highest earnings to calculate your annual benefits.

How Do You Compare?

It may be challenging for nurses to compare with the average retirement income for several reasons.  First, nursing salaries typically are higher than the average worker.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for nurses in 2022 was $81,220.  Second, nurses typically have access to pensions or employer contribution plans that other workers might not.  And because nursing salaries are higher, they may be able to contribute more to their retirement savings account.  Rather than comparing to the average, consider calculating your unique retirement income needs.

Calculating Your Retirement Income Needs

As a Financial Advisor, clients often want to know how to calculate their retirement income.  One recommendation is to use around 80% of your current income.  For example, if you earn a hypothetical $80,000 a year as a nurse, you may need around $64,000 in retirement.  Of course, each client is unique, but 80% is a good starting point.  Also remember to consider all sources of income in retirement like annuities and retirement accounts.

If you want a more exact amount, consider creating a retirement budget to understand your expenses and the amount you’ll need to meet them.  Another way to calculate the retirement income you’ll need is to use a calculator.

Challenges Faced by Retirees

If you are like many retirees, you may fear outliving your money.  And relying on a single income source, like Social Security, can be risky.  It is good to have many sources of income to prepare for unforeseen financial challenges.  When considering your retirement income needs, keep in mind these challenges faced by many retirees.

Inflation and Its Impact

Inflation eats away at your buying power.  And no one is immune to inflation.  Your retirement plan should include adjusting for inflation.  Consider using an inflation rate of 3% to help you decide on your retirement income needs.

Healthcare Costs in Retirement

Healthcare costs can be a significant burden during retirement.  Unforeseen medical emergencies, long-term care, and managing a chronic illness can eat away at your retirement income.  Consider the cost of medical events and care when planning your retirement income.

Market Swings

Retirees are vulnerable to market swings.  And you will want to know your risk tolerance before investing.  If you plan to invest for retirement income, consider speaking with a Financial Advisor to help you create a sound investment strategy that aligns with your goals.

Strategies to Optimize Your Retirement Income

Your retirement lifestyle will depend on your income.  And regardless of your age, it is never too late to plan for retirement.  Consider these strategies that aim to optimize your retirement income.

Consider Delaying Social Security

Depending on your health status, you may want to delay claiming Social Security until at least full retirement age.  That’s because you add 8% to your annual benefit each year you delay claiming Social Security until age 70, when you receive your maximum benefit.

Explore Employment Opportunities

There are many reasons to return to work after retiring.  And income is one of them.  But working after retirement can also give you purpose and keep you socially active.

Optimize Your Employee Benefits

Many employers offer a retirement savings account, like a 401(k) or 403(b) plan.  These plans often have matching contribution options where your employer will match a percentage of your contribution.  This is like free money to you.

Consider Annuities

An annuity is a contract with an insurance company.  You pay an ongoing or one-time premium and in return, the insurance company pays you income according to your contract.  Annuities are common vehicles for retirement income.  There are fixed and variable annuities.  Fixed annuities do not involve investing.  But variable annuities do.  And because all investing has risk, consider speaking with a Financial Advisor to help you decide if a variable annuity aligns with your retirement income goals.


Budget imageIn conclusion, nurses may not be able to compare with the average retirement income.  Higher salary, access to retirement savings accounts with the ability to contribute may interfere with comparisons.  A better strategy may be to create a retirement budget to help you estimate your unique retirement income needs.  Consider speaking with a Financial Advisor to help you create a plan that includes many sources of retirement income.  The aim is to help you have enough retirement income to enjoy your life and not outlive your money.


Want to learn if you are ready for retirement?  Take the Retirement Readiness Assessment.

Ready to take control of your finances?  Contact me.


Upon clicking these links, the content you are going to is not controlled, reviewed or approved by, and is not the responsibility of, the website that you are leaving. All numeric examples and any individuals shown are hypothetical and were used for explanatory purposes only. Actual results may vary.


Categories: Retirement Income

Georgene Collins

Georgene Collins, RICP®, RN, PhD, MBA is a registered nurse turned Financial Advisor at Airey Financial Group. Georgene helps other nurses take control of their finances and prepare for retirement. Georgene began her career with Airey Financial Group in 2017 after retiring from 30 years in healthcare. Georgene holds the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) designation from The American College of Financial Services. She holds health and life insurance licenses and a long-term care certificate in Indiana and Illinois. Georgene is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative and has earned the FINRA Series 63 and 65 registrations.