(Dow Jones) Over 60% of U.S. households are at risk of not being able to afford comfortable retirements, not so much because of the stock-market crash of late 2008 and early 2009, but because of the drop in home-equity valuation, according to the Center for Retirement Research, or CRR, at Boston College.

The CRR's National Retirement Risk Index is a percentage gauge, based on conservative assumptions, of how many working Americans are in danger of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement.

"The impact of home equity on the percent of households 'at risk' is greater than that of the recent stock market crash," Alicia Munnell, the CRR's director, said in a press release. "How baby boomers and future generations decide to use their home equity could determine how well many fare in retirement."

Brad Davis, vice president of retirement income solutions for Nationwide Financial Services (NFS), said that "consumers must be open to utilizing all of their assets" including home equity "to face today's retirement challenges."

Davis also urged financial professionals to get the training they need and work with firms that can help them to provide advice and offer concrete support on ways their clients can increase retirement income.

Nationwide's Mutual Insurance Company underwrites the CRR's National Retirement Risk Index.

Copyright (c) 2010, Dow Jones. For more information about Dow Jones' services for advisors, please click here.