This morning things were abuzz at the National Press Club as Retirement USA (an initiative of the Pension Rights Center and other partnering organizations) launched “Wake Up, Washington!” Month. The month is dedicated to raising awareness among policymakers about the Retirement Income Deficit faced by millions of Americans. We learned that the Retirement Income Deficit in this country is $6.6 trillion – meaning the amount of money Americans ages 32-64 need but do not have to provide an adequate nest egg for their retirement.
So Retirement USA has decided the time is now to tell Washington to wake up, protect Social Security and fix our broken patchwork private retirement income system.
There are many problems contributing to the current retirement income crisis, but without faces and real life stories, retirement policy looks like a jumble of numbers that doesn’t always resonate. That is why the lynchpin of “Wake Up, Washington!” Month is the launch of the Story Bank. Anyone anywhere with something to say can add their story to the bank. For 34 years the Pension Rights Center has been dedicated to protecting retirement security for workers and retirees, but no one, not even the PRC can truly show the depth of the crisis quite like those of you out these experiencing it every day.
The Story Bank already has a compelling video and wonderful stories from people falling all along the retirement security spectrum. Shareen Miller, who shared her story at this morning’s press conference, explains in her story about how she loves her current job despite the fact that it does not provide her with health or retirement benefits. She and her husband are facing the fact that as they get older they won’t be able to continue working and yet they don’t have enough saved to supplement their Social Security and pay for their needs in retirement. As she puts it, “we need to ensure that after a lifetime of hard work, every American is able to retire with dignity.”
Teresa Law also shares her story of working as a home care worker caring for elderly patients while she herself says, “I don’t see how I’m ever going to be able to stop working.” She and her husband had to use their 401(k) savings to pay for basic living needs when he was injured. Now they face the prospect of living off nothing but Social Security in retirement.
These startling stories are just a sampling of what is happening to workers all across our country. They show why now is the time for policymakers to wake up and address the retirement income crisis. For more information on “Wake Up, Washington!” Month, visit the Retirement USA website at www.retirement-usa.org.