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Just a few decades ago, most Americans expected to rely on pensions and Social Security to fund their retirement years. With more companies doing away with pensions and those that do remaining exposed to underfunding and investment issues, however, many people express doubt that they will be able to depend on retirement payments from this source. Social Security also carries a degree of risk; pundits predict that the government may curb payments to some retirees as a means of trimming the federal budget.
Even retirees who receive full pension and Social Security benefits find that their income tends to lag behind their spending needs. Conventional advice about retirement reflects obsolete ideas about activity, life expectancy, and expectations about the so-called golden years. To overcome potential deficiencies that make it difficult to maintain their lifestyles, many retirees consider the value of discounted investments in immediate and future income.