For many, October heralds the onset of the fall season, a time of crisp air and changing leaves. However, for NPPC, this month carries a deeper significance. October is a moment to both celebrate retirement security’s accomplishments and recognize the ongoing journey toward further progress and improvement. In 2006, The National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators started National Retirement Security Month to recognize the importance of a secure retirement, and it’s been observed during October each year since.
Amid the economic challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic, safeguarding the right to a secure retirement has never been more crucial. Here are three ways you can champion retirement dignity for all Americans during National Retirement Security Month and beyond:
- Recognize the Retirement Crisis
In the history of the United States, pensions have long served as a reliable source of income for retirees, mitigating the risk of outliving savings or market downturns. However, the landscape of retirement security has shifted significantly since 1978 with the introduction of the Revenue Act, which ushered in the 401(k) plan. Many corporations leveraged this law to transition from defined-benefit pension plans to 401(k)-style defined-contribution plans, which were never intended to be the primary source of retirement income.
As a result, 57 percent of Americans have no retirement savings, and the median 401(k) balance nationwide is a mere $27,376. This amount falls short of covering essential retirement expenses like healthcare, housing, groceries, and transportation. Consequently, 70 percent of Americans recognize a retirement security crisis in our nation.
While many public employees still have access to defined-benefit pension plans, some special interest groups aim to dismantle this crucial safety net. You can defend the retirement security of public servants by becoming an advocate for public pensions.
- Become an advocate for public pensions.
There is no formal application process for becoming a pension advocate– you just have to care about the role they play in a secure retirement for public employees. Start by researching your state legislature as they make significant decisions regarding public pensions and pension funding.
Ask yourself these questions:
- When does your state legislature convene and adjourn?
- Who represents you in the state capital?
- What actions have they taken in the past regarding public pensions in your state?
With elections on the horizon, there may be changes in your state legislature. Ensure you know your lawmakers and make your stance known on pension-related bills when they arise. Your advocacy can influence their votes.
You can also become an advocate by sharing our posts on your social media platforms and engaging in conversations about retirement security with your loved ones, friends, and colleagues. To stay informed about pension legislation in your state, consider subscribing to NPPC News Clips. You’ll receive daily updates on pension news from across the country delivered directly to your inbox. If you’re eager to get involved, sign up for emails from NPPC to discover more about how you can actively participate in our mission.
- Combat misinformation from pension opponents.
In the face of fiscal pressure on state and local governments due to the pandemic, opponents of pensions have spread misinformation, suggesting that public pensions should be cut to bolster state finances. You can counter this false narrative with accurate information from reputable, nonpartisan sources that support public pensions.
For example, less than five-and-a-half percent of all state and local government spending went toward public pensions in fiscal year 2020. Pension plans are primarily funded through investment earnings, not taxpayer contributions. Investment earnings have accounted for 60 percent of all public pension revenue since 1991.
Public pensions also benefit taxpayers and governments by contributing to tax revenue. In 2020, pension benefits supported $157.7 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue, making them a valuable source of income for governments experiencing revenue declines due to the economic downturn.
By sharing this data and personal anecdotes about what pensions mean to you and your family you can challenge the false narrative and provide lawmakers and the public with an unbiased, fact-based view of pensions.
We invite you to join us in the ongoing fight for every American to retire with dignity and security. (P.S. Want to help now? Share our post with a loved one!)