Age 80 is the new 65? Apparently so for one in four middle class Americans who said they'll be working "until at least 80" to afford retirement. Umm, what retirement?

That's the most striking finding of a new retirement survey from Wells Fargo that asked 1,500 Americans who earn between $25,000 and $100,000 about retirement preparedness. The phone survey was conducted in August and September - a volatile time in the markets and economy. Other intriguing findings:

  • Two-thirds of respondents say they aren't confident that the stock market is a good place for retirement. But it was also clear from the survey that many folks have a meager nest egg. So where is that magical place where your money has a chance of earning decent returns but is safe?
  • Three-quarters of Americans expect to do some form of work in retirement. Let's hope employers want or need them. Slightly more than one-third say that they'll work because they want to, not because they need the money. 
  • More than half of those surveyed plan to withdraw 6 percent or more out of their retirement funds each year. That's higher than the 4 percent loose rule of thumb used by many financial advisers. In other words, many retirees risk running out of money.
  • Most of the folks interviewed for this survey are worried about retirement. 42% fear they've done all the right things but still won't have enough saved. 19 % fear they've under-saved and it's too late to do anything about it.

I was also struck by some of the generational differences in the survey. For example, when it comes to how important it is to pay off the mortgage before retirement, 87 percent of those ages 25 to 29 say it's "very important" to do so compared to only 40 percent of those ages 60 to 75.

Half of 25 to 49 year olds also say they're willing to take a cut in Social Security to help balance the nation's budget compared to 28 percent of 50 to 59 year olds and 19 percent of 60 to 75 year olds.

Based on my conversations with Gen Y and Gen X over the years, I'm guessing that's because many of them don't believe Social Security will be there for them anyway, so whatever they receive is better than nothing.