RRF Foundation for Aging releases issue brief on economic security later in life

RRF Foundation for Aging releases issue brief on economic security later in life


By Karen Friedman

The RRF Foundation for Aging is one of the few private foundations in the United States devoted exclusively to aging issues. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for older people. One of its Priority Areas is increasing economic security in later life. To further this goal, RRF recently released an Issue Brief outlining both the challenges to achieving economic security and some of the solutions, including providing access to sufficient income, enhancing financial knowledge and skills, and advocating for a stable, equitable retirement system.

The brief, “Working Together to Achieve Economic Security in Later Life,” begins a series that RRF says will describe its “approach to funding” and how it works to help older adults improve their financial well-being. The brief says that RRF looks “forward to joining with others in this important work” to help older adults improve their financial well-being.

Among the facts highlighted in the brief are:

  • The private sector has not sufficiently supported worker savings, and pensions, envisioned as a critical pillar of late life security, are increasingly rare. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, in 2016 just 62.1% of pre-retirement U.S. households participated in a retirement plan.


  • A lifetime of confronting systemic inequities around gender, race, and sexual orientation has contributed to many older adults’ financial struggles. The RRF brief highlights statistics showing that “older women of all ages are more likely than men to live in poverty.”


  • Social insurance programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, have not kept up with inflation. The brief points to a 2018 study by the Senior Citizens League showing that “Social Security benefits have lost 34% of their buying power since 2000.”


We are honored and grateful that RRF shines a special spotlight on the Pension Rights Center, which is a long-time grantee of the foundation. The brief describes the PRC as a “stalwart advocate since 1976” that has “developed a strategic approach, with the support of several RRF grants, to reform the pension system and improve the financial security of older people.”

“PRC exemplifies how thoughtful collaboration can lay the groundwork for system reforms to help older people,” RRF says in the brief.  The Foundation says that we: provide “training and technical support to a network of seven regional centers around the country that help people recover lost pensions”; “protect divorced older women” by making the process of getting a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) more accessible; and use advocacy to protect “retirees from pension cuts due to insolvency of multiemployer pension plans and promoting solutions to stem this crisis.”

The Issue Brief also highlights other key projects funded by RRF to help bolster economic security, including the Illinois Pension Assistance Project, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Boston, to provide pension counseling and individual advocacy to older adults in Illinois; the Social Security Works Education Fund to empower and activate people to lift up the importance of Social Security; and WISER (Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement), which is launching a Financial Caregivers Project to provide a one-stop clearinghouse for information on the financial aspects of caregiving.

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