Newsmax Finance article by Dan Weil

More than half the country’s pre-retirement households — 52 percent to be exact — are at risk of being unable to maintain their current living standards when they retire, according the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

That estimate is for 2013, based on the most recent data from the Federal Reserve. The risk index was little changed from 53 percent in the last survey three years ago, but well above the 31 percent level for 1983.

“Our expectation was that the index would improve sharply in 2013,” Alicia Munnell, the Center’s director, writes on MarketWatch.

“It certainly felt like a better year than 2010. The stock market was up, and housing values were beginning to recover. But the ratio of wealth to income had not bounced back from the financial crisis.”

Bottom line: “many Americans need to save more and/or work longer,” Munnell says.

Meanwhile, if you’re planning on retiring next year, Emily Brandon, senior retirement editor at U.S. News & World Report, offers several tips.

Decide when to begin taking Social Security benefits. In general, the longer you wait, the greater your payouts are.

Make sure to sign up for Medicare as soon as you’re eligible. “You should start submitting the paperwork for Medicare up to three months before age 65,” Christopher Rhim, a certified financial planner for Green View Advisors in Norwich, Vt., tells Brandon. “There are some financial penalties if you sign up later.”

Consider rolling over your 401k into your IRA. Doing so may save you on fees and give you more investment choices.

Pay attention to required minimum distributions for IRAs after age 70 1/2.