The coronavirus pandemic has caused heartaches for the young, middle-aged and senior populations. There’s not a single generation living that hasn’t endured some kind of body blow from the muscle of the virus.

For older Americans, though, the crisis has been an appalling shock. Many can’t travel or see grandchildren. Filling their cupboards and refrigerators with groceries is a risk. Their life savings are vanishing as the global economy shuts down and financial markets plunged.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the pain may be particularly acute in the U.S., where Americans rely on a retirement system that was broken well before a pandemic dashed it to pieces. Almost half of U.S. households 55 and older have nothing saved for retirement. Many of the rest were already doing worse than earlier waves of retirees. After a 40-year-long shift from traditional pensions to individual 401(k) retirement accounts, Americans’ financial security is now defenseless against whatever crisis comes along, says the Bloomberg publication.

Just before the markets fell, Alicia Munnewell, professor and director of Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, and her colleagues examined the retirement savings of late baby-boomers, now 55 to 69 years old, the first cohort to spend their careers with 401(k) accounts rather than pensions. What she found was “really horrifying,” she wrote.

With just a decade or more to retirement, late boomers had far less saved in 401(k) style defined contribution plans than older cohorts did at the same ages. Middle-income late boomers had less than $30,000 saved in their early 50s vs. $55,787 for early boomers and $50,787 for mid-boomers. The result was puzzling and wayward.

The more time Americans spent in the 401(k) system, the less they were managing to save. The prime culprit, researchers concluded, was the Great Recession, which hit the 401(k)-reliant boomers harder than older cohorts. The younger boomers were actually doing a good job of saving until their mid-40s. Then the 2008 financial crisis destroyed their wealth just as the resulting recession ruined millions of careers in the aftermath.

Bloomberg Businessweek says the losses for retirement savers depend on how exposed they were to stocks. The coronavirus and the economic crisis leave many with one fallback: Social Security, which was implemented in 1935 during the Great Depression.

The current wave of setbacks for people planning to retire in a few years is raising havoc with their retirement plans. It is forcing them to start thinking about working longer than they had planned, it makes it tougher for the generation coming out of high school, technical college or four-year college to find employment. And the blame will point to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.