The Stand

‘REAL Retirement Security Now’ forum is April 2 in Seattle

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SEATTLE (March 11, 2015) — We have a retirement security crisis in America that threatens the middle class and people trying to work their way into it. Americans are less prepared for retirement today than in decades and the overwhelming majority of people are anxious or pessimistic about their ability to retire.

retirement-crisisThis year provides a unique opportunity to highlight this ongoing crisis because it is the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the 50th anniversaries of Medicare and Medicaid as well as the White House’s decennial Conference on Aging. The White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) occurs once every decade to discuss and tackle the problems facing retirees and senior citizens, and this year the White House is holding five invitation-only regional meetings across the country leading up to a national conference this summer in Washington, D.C.

The Alliance for Retired Americans, with other labor, retiree, and aging organizations, is holding educational and mobilization events across the country as these regional meetings occur, and needs your help to make sure the White House hears about the retirement security crisis and the importance of defined-benefit pensions, as well as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Our regional event is sponsored by the Washington Alliance for Retired Americans — along with its AFSCME affiliate, the Retired Public Employees Council of Washington — and will take place on Thursday, April 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (and will include lunch) at the Machinists Hall, 9125 15th Pl. S. in Seattle. Download the event flier. This “REAL Retirement Security Now” forum will focus on essential programs like defined-benefit pensions, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Speakers will include Jon Holden, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 751, and Greg Devereux, Executive Director of the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28.

Even in this milestone anniversary year, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are under attack like never before. Now is the time for retired Americans to join the fight for real retirement security, and educating and mobilizing seniors is the first step in that process. Please make plans to participate in this important April 2 forum. Please RSVP by calling 1-800-562-6097 or emailing info@rpecwa.org.

BACKGROUND — Older workers are working longer and delaying their retirement, which means younger workers have far fewer opportunities for jobs and advancement. Many of today’s seniors rely on their children, who are already struggling to raise their own families.  Others are forced to rely on public services. And most workers are simply trying to keep up, let alone put aside money for the future.

Here are the facts:

► The United States is facing a vast retirement savings deficit, estimated to be as much as $6.6 trillion, and most Americans have little or nothing in retirement savings. (Source: Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, 3/2014)

► The median retirement savings for all working-age households in the U.S. is $3,000, and $12,000 for near-retirement households. More than one-third of all working-age adults have no retirement savings at all. Source: National Institute on Retirement Security & Bankrate.com)

► More than half of U.S. workers have no workplace retirement plan. Of those who do, just 35% still have defined-benefit pensions. In 1975, 88 % of workers with retirement plans had defined-benefit pensions. (Source: Society of Actuaries, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

► 401(k)-type defined-contribution plans, intended merely to supplement savings, are woefully underfunded. A big reason is that U.S. employers don’t contribute enough. The meager 3% contribution rate in the U.S. is the lowest in the advanced world. Australia’s contribution rate is equal to 9% of pay. Denmark’s is 11.8%,  Hungary’s is 8%, and Mexico’s is 6.5%. (Source: CNBC, 3-21-13)

► Social Security retiree benefits average less than $1,300 per month. For two out of three retirees, these modest benefits provide more than half their total income. For 36%, Social Security is their sole source of income. (Social Security Administration, 2014 Basic Facts)

► By 2060, the number of people 85 and older is set to mushroom by 281% nationwide — nearly tripling. Meanwhile, the population of people 60-79 is expected to double. (The Economist, 11-18-14)

► In the state of Washington, 48% of people between ages 55 and 64 have no retirement plan. (Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, 3/14)

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