Retirement Income Deficit and Retirement USA Highlighted at Senate Committee Hearing

For Immediate Release: October 7, 2010
Contact: Joellen Leavelle, Pension Rights Center, 202-296-3776

WASHINGTON – Retirement USA applauds Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and members of the Committee for convening today’s hearing on “The Wobbly Stool: Retirement (In)security in America.” Among the hearing’s witnesses was Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute and a member of Retirement USA’s steering committee.

“Polls show that Americans are scared about their retirement,” Eisenbrey said in his testimony. He noted that 91 percent of respondents to a recent life insurance company poll said that the nation is “facing a retirement crisis, and 61 percent said they fear depleting their retirement assets more than they fear dying. Unfortunately, they have good reason to be scared.” 

Just last month, Retirement USA announced that the nation’s Retirement Income Deficit stands at $6.6 trillion, based on projections of retirement income and wealth for American workers ages 32-64. The figure was calculated for Retirement USA by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, using methodology developed for the Center’s National Retirement Risk Index.  It is a measure of how far behind Americans are in their retirement savings today. 

The Retirement Income Deficit was released as part of Retirement USA’s “Wake Up, Washington!” Month, a speak-out on retirement security that runs through October 15. Recent polls suggest that retirement security is high on the list of priorities for most Americans, yet policymakers have largely overlooked the crisis. The goal of “Wake Up, Washington!” Month is to tell lawmakers to pay attention to the issue, to stop efforts to cut Social Security, and to call for a 21st century retirement system that is universal, secure, and adequate.

Throughout the Month, organizations and individuals are focusing on the retirement income crisis on their blogs, on Facebook, and Twitter. On the Retirement USA website, people across the country can voice their retirement security concerns through an online story bank, and petition policymakers to focus on the real problem – not Social Security, but our patchwork private retirement system.

Also testifying at the hearing was Shareen Miller of Falls Church, Va., one of the many people who has “deposited” a story in the story bank. A personal care assistant who has no retirement plan through her employer, Miller is afraid that she will never be able to retire, but she is also worried that she will not be able to continue to work in her physically demanding job as she ages.

Retirement USA is an initiative for a new retirement system that, along with Social Security, will provide universal, secure, and adequate income for future retirees. Founded by the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Pension Rights Center, and the Service Employees International Union, Retirement USA has established 12 Principles for a New Retirement System. To date, 28 organizations have signed on in support of the Principles.




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