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Future retirement security

Radical thinking from...BusinessWeek?

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A timely and provocative op-ed by BusinessWeek's contributing economics editor Chris Farrell flatly states, "Keep Wall Street Out of the Retirement Business."  Farrell goes on to ask:

Question is, in light of the current turmoil in the financial markets, should Wall Street manage any of our long-term retirement savings funds? Is the 401(k) plan, which has become the main retirement savings vehicle for the American worker over the past three decades, a mistake? The case for rethinking the 401(k) as a pillar of retirement savings is compelling. More...

More on the meltdown

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What a week.  The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch's sale to Bank of America, and the government rescue of AIG were just the latest upheavals in this churning Subprime Summer.  I've been getting calls every day from reporters, wanting to interview people who are concerned about their 401(k) accounts.

People are right to be concerned.  For many American workers, a 401(k) account will be their only source of retirement income besides Social Security.  While one should expect market fluctuations to affect their account balances, no one likes to see their 401(k) take a nosedive. More...

How does the Wall Street meltdown affect my pension?

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In the past few days, large companies on Wall Street have been closing left and right, making the people who work at these companies jittery about many issues, including their retirement security.

The good news for these employees is that the money in their pension and 401(k) plans is protected from creditors, so that even when a company goes into bankruptcy, they don't have to worry about their retirement money being used to pay back debts instead. More...

Happy birthday, ERISA!

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Happy 34th Birthday, ERISA!

Today marks the 34th anniversary of the date that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, known to those in the field of pensions as ERISA, was signed into law. In a tribute to the workers who would be helped by the new law, that day, September 2, 1974, fell on Labor Day.

More...

Bankruptcies rising among older Americans

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An Associated Press story appearing in the Washington Post this week carries disturbing news about the deteriorating financial health of older Americans.

According to an analysis by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, which studied bankruptcies filed between 1991 and 2007, the bankruptcy filing rate has risen dramatically for Americans over the age of 55, with the oldest age group having the greatest increase.  More...

The paper chase: Keeping track of your pension

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Every day I receive calls from workers and retirees who need help with their pensions.  Often, the people I speak to are looking for lost pension income that their employers promised would arrive at a critical time in their lives - retirement.  These callers may be having trouble locating their pensions or finding out if they are even eligible to receive benefits. More...

How the rich get richer

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Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal published a shocking exposé about how companies are using pension plans - which are intended for rank-and-file workers - to covertly fund the executive benefits of their highest-paid officers.

WSJ journalists Ellen Schultz and Theo Francis report that "At a time when scores of companies are freezing pensions for their workers, some are quietly converting their pension plans into resources to finance their executives' retirement benefits and pay." More...

Social insecurity

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Last week the federal minimum wage rose to $6.55 an hour, increasing the annual earnings for a full-time minimum wage worker to $13,624.  While it's certainly the right move for Congress to raise the minimum wage for current workers, it raises an important question about retired workers.  Take a look at our statistics page and you'll see why: The average retired worker's Social Security check is now less than that of a minimum wage worker. More...

Robbing your retirement piggy bank

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In an earlier blog post, we discussed efforts in Congress to make it easier for people to withdraw money from their 401(k) accounts to save their homes from foreclosure. Such withdrawals are part of a larger problem with 401(k)s known as "leakage" (what a lovely name!) – loans, early withdrawals, and lump-sum payouts that reduce or deplete a worker’s retirement savings account long before the worker actually retires. Between withdrawal penalties, interest charged on loans, and the overall reduction in their retirement savings, "leakage" has long-term consequences that many workers aren't aware of until it's too late. More...

The good news about public pensions

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Too often we hear bad news stories about how public pension plans are underfunded and that they’re a drain to taxpayers. But a congressional hearing last week told a different story. The hearing, Your Money, Your Future: Public Pension Plans and the Need to Strengthen Retirement Security and Economic Growth, focused on how public sector pensions efficiently provide adequate retirement income to a large segment of the workforce. More...

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