To Retire or Not to Retire, That's the Boomer Question . / Credit: Perplexed man image via Shutterstock

Baby Boomers are doing a good job of planting their flag as the “Hamlet” generation, a new study shows. Despite bragging that they will not go gently into the good night and plan to work  well past the traditional retirement age of 65, those born on the leading edge of their cohort in 1946 are retiring in droves. Can’t they make up their minds?

More than half (59 percent) of boomers — the first of the group to turn 65 — are at least partially retired, 45 percent are completely retired and 14 percent are retired but working part time, according to a survey sponsored by the MetLife Mature Market Institute. Of those still working, 37 percent say they'll retire in the next year and, on average, plan to do so by the time they're 68.

Most of those who retired early did so for health reasons, the survey found, but the majority of respondents (85 percent) consider themselves healthy and almost all (96 percent) of retirees say they like retirement at least somewhat. Seven-in-10 like it a lot.

[Baby Boomers Can't Afford to Retire]

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents are already collecting Social Security benefits, and, on average, began doing so at age 63, defying the conventional wisdom that people would choose to wait to receive benefits until a later age to receive a higher payout. Among those in the survey, just over 60 percent are confident that the Social Security system will be able to provide adequate benefits for their lifetime.

They also seem to have found their own fountain of youth. The 65-year-old boomers do not consider themselves old; on average, they won't consider themselves to be old until they're 79.

"Many of the boomers weathered the recession well and have been able to stop working," said Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. "Half of all boomers feel confident that they are on track or have already hit their retirement goals. We found that more are homeowners today than 2008, that the value of their homes decreased by only about 5.2 percent on average, that the majority feel they’re in good health and that 83 percent have grandchildren. Overall, it’s a pretty confident group of Americans.”

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