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The Scary Plight of Going Broke in Retirement

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- A survey by Allianz Life Insurance of North America this past summer found that among a sampling those ages 44 to 75, more than three in five said they worry more about running out of assets than dying.

The upside of such fears is that they may spur a more serious savings strategy. The considerable downside, however, is that some of these spooked respondents may see their premonition come true.

One in six older Americans lives below the federal poverty line, according to a recent government analysis, and all should have plans in place to deal with financial devastation.

So what happens if, into your retirement, you run out of money? What options are you left with?

"You hope you have good family and good services in your community and that sort of thing," says Noel Abkemeier -- a retirement actuary for Milliman and an active member of the Society of Actuaries. "Of course when your account runs dry, hopefully you still have Social Security coming in your direction."

One in six older Americans lives below the federal poverty line, according to a recent government analysis.

At 16%, the proportion of seniors living in poverty is higher than the proportion of all Americans in poverty, according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure Research, an alternative calculation from the U.S. Census Bureau that factors in such traditionally overlooked costs as out-of-pocket medical expenses and taxes that can affect those on fixed incomes.

"Millions are suffering and millions more are living on the edge of a financial crisis," says Sandra Nathan, of the National Council on Aging, a nonprofit service and advocacy organization. "Many seniors desperately need help assessing and navigating the options available to assist them in getting on a pathway to economic security, to meet their basic needs, survive an emergency and afford medical care."

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