Economy Cracks Many Nest Eggs

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Walter Lawrence was living retirement on Easy Street - until Wall St. scrambled his nest egg.

"I had a lot of money," Lawrence said. "Today I don't have a lot of money."

Half his savings are gone, without him spending a dime, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

It's a financial distress call for millions of retirees: America's economy, burning through their assets.

Lawrence can spot an emergency. He's a retired Atlanta firefighter and after twelve years, he may have to go back to work, doing something.

"I doubt you would find too many people who would hire a 67-year-old," Lawrence said. "Then what would you do?"

Paul Nelson would never have retired at all.

He saved, planned, invested for a long walk down the fairway. But his investments are down 25 percent.

"They used to say you need X amount of dollars to retire," Nelson said. "I don't think anybody could say right now what you would really need to retire. There's no way."

Even before this week's upheaval, at 18 percent, few American workers were very confident they'd have enough money for retirement.

And most retirees have more financial worries now than the day they retired.

More Americans older than 55 are still working now than at any time since 1970.

And with the economy now in turmoil, labor experts predict more anxious older workers will be forced to put off retirement, Strassmann reports.

"I would have waited another two or three years," Nelson said. "But in three years I might have had to say five or seven, because of the uncertainty. We don't know what it's gonna take."

Which has the retired firefighter smelling smoke in his future.

"You could see outliving your assets?" Strassmann asked.

"Yes," Lawrence said.

Strassmann asked: "Could you have imagined that, just a couple years ago?"

"No, no, no," Lawrence said.

They're like many retirees, with no idea where to find a new roadmap back to Easy Street.

  • strassmannbio2011.jpg
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.