Rising healthcare costs are the single largest financial concern for people aged 55 to 65, regardless of their political beliefs, according to “2012 Retirement & Politics Survey,” from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.

The survey found that 67 percent of all ‘transition boomers,’ those in the 55 to 65 age bracket, said healthcare expenses are their top concern, with Republicans at 64 percent, Democrats at 69 percent, and Independents at 66 percent. Next was Social Security, which ranked second at 53 percent overall; followed by tax payment changes (31 percent); rising national debt (26 percent); unemployment (19 percent) and education (4 percent).

“Regardless of political affiliation, Americans are facing tough challenges in the years ahead,” said Katie Libbe, VP of consumer insights for Allianz Life. “It's crucial that everyone starts the process of retirement planning as early as possible to build toward a future with some certainty and security. Finding the time and energy to devote to retirement planning is a challenge, but the strategic choice can pay dividends down the road.”

The survey was conducted with more than 1,200 respondents ages 55 to 65. Among six economic issues, Democrats are more focused on Social Security (65 percent of Democrats versus 42 percent for Republicans, 50 percent for Independents and 54 percent for those with no party preference). Republicans are more focused on the rising national debt (38 percent of Republicans versus 15 percent for Democrats, 29 percent for Independents and 19 percent for those with no preference).

Democrats were more likely to be balanced in their retirement savings approach, with 29 percent identifying themselves as balanced versus 18 percent for Republicans. On the issue of savings, 59 percent of Republicans identified themselves as being conservative or moderately conservative compared to 36 percent of Democrats.

Considering the effects of the election on their retirement saving, 29 percent of Republicans said they are likely to be more aggressive if Romney wins; 30 percent of Democrats would be more conservative. If President Obama is re-elected, 81 percent of Democrats would make no changes to their retirement approach, 42 percent of Republicans said they would be more conservative.

Those who don’t identify with either political party reported being more conservative or balanced in their retirement savings philosophy; 39 percent of Independents and 29 percent of those with no preference said they are conservative or moderately conservative; 30 percent of Independents and 34 percent with no preference identified themselves as balanced in their retirement savings approach. Most also said the election wouldn’t trigger a change in their retirement savings strategy. If President Obama is re-elected, 64 percent of Independents and 75 percent ‘no preference’ said they wouldn’t change their retirement savings strategy. If Romney wins, 61 percent of Independents and 73 percent of ‘no preference’ said they wouldn’t change their retirement savings strategy.

Retirement planning is understandably important to all transition boomers; 72 percent overall began saving for retirement in their 40s or earlier; 28 percent started in their 30s. More Republicans said they started saving for retirement prior to age 50 (79 percent) than Democrats (69 percent), Independents (71 percent), or ‘no preference’ (67 percent).

Overall, 17 percent of transition boomers haven’t begun saving for retirement, 12 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of Democrats, 19 percent of Independents, and 23 percent ‘no party preference’ said they have not begun saving for retirement.

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