Rebuilding the Foundation

Three steps toward a secure, dignified retirement for all

Issue Brief | July 18, 2011 | By John Burbank, John Burbank

Executive Summary

A secure and dignified retirement is one of the hallmarks of America’s middle class. But its foundation – a combination of Social Security, pensions, and savings – is no longer secure. While Social Security is on solid financial footing for decades to come, private pensions have largely disappeared from the economic landscape, and decades of stagnant wages and debt have depleted savings and retirement accounts, Today, few Americans can afford to save for retirement on their own.

This brief proposes three steps to ensure retirement security for every American:

  1. Augment and strengthen Social Security;
  2. Advance universally accessible voluntary retirement accounts;
  3. Develop state supplemental social insurance programs.

They are based on the following principles:

  • Universal coverage: All workers, their dependents and survivors are covered by enhanced Social Security benefits and state supplemental social insurance, ensuring steady and sufficient income for retirees, beneficiaries and their family members.
  • Shared responsibility: Required contributions from both employees and employers ensure revenue responsibility across the socio-economic spectrum.
  • Individual choice: Universally accessible voluntary retirement accounts enable and encourage additional voluntary contributions by individuals and their employer(s).
  • Portability: Enhanced Social Security, state supplemental social insurance, and universally accessible voluntary retirement accounts are completely portable from job to job.
  • Modernized benefits: Enhanced Social Security and state supplemental social insurance increase retirement security and provide income protection for temporary disability and family leave. Universally accessible voluntary retirement accounts are transferable and payable to survivors upon the death of the primary beneficiary.

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Posted in A Fair Deal at Work, Retirement Security Accounts, Social Security