Pensions/Retirement Savings

Saving for retirement and the Golden Years is one of the most important goals families can undertake. Families cannot and should not rely solely upon Social Security as their only financial means for their retirement years. Employees and their families should take advantage of retirement savings options provided by their employers such as traditional defined benefits, retirement plans or 401(k) plans. In addition, individuals and small business owners should take advantage of the tax benefits of opening Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or SIMPLE retirement plans.

When I was the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, I helped ensure that employees’ and their families’ pensions were secure through the enactment of the Pension Protection Act of 2006. This landmark law made changes to Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and other retirement laws that require employers to live up their pension promises made to employees. It also expanded 401(k) retirement accounts so that employees would be automatically enrolled in the accounts in order to receive the matching employer funds. In addition, the Act provided greater security and transparency of retirement accounts.

As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I will continue to work to ensure that additional safeguards are put into place for retirement savings. Individuals and families should have greater access to 401(k), IRA and other retirement savings accounts and the financial literacy and education to make the right investment decisions for those savings. Policies and practices must be put in place to keep traditional defined-benefit retirement plans healthy. I will find new ways to strengthen existing retirement plans while seeking new ways for families and small businesses to participate in future defined-benefit retirement plans.

During these hard economic times, it is understandable to utilize 401(k) accounts for emergency funds. However, many are using their retirement accounts as ‘rainy day’ funds, and it is difficult to pay themselves back. I will continue to find solutions to the hardships Americans face to ensure a secure, responsible retirement fund for all.