kent conrad jim lockhart

The Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings will examine whether savings rates and available savings vehicles are meeting the retirement goals of Americans and the nation’s investment needs. The initiative will formulate innovative recommendations to increase national savings, improve income security in retirement, and guard against the potential costs of long-term care and loss of income due to disability.

Defined benefit pensions are becoming less common, and retirees are increasingly relying on a combination of defined contribution savings arrangements and Social Security benefits. Many individuals, however, do not have access to payroll-deduction savings plans in the workplace, are not saving enough in these vehicles, or are not properly investing contributions. As a result, millions of Americans may be approaching retirement with inadequate savings to maintain their standards of living.

The core of the initiative will be recommendations to streamline and improve the defined contribution retirement system by increasing personal savings for retirement and improving the effectiveness of tax-advantaged savings vehicles.

The initiative will address important financial security issues, including, but not limited to:

  • The impact of federal policies on private savings. Federal law, including the tax code, has dozens of provisions to encourage saving for retirement and other purposes, as well as others that provide a disincentive to save. The initiative will recommend policy changes to increase savings and retirement security, improve consumer protection, and reduce administrative burden for employers.
  • The finances and operation of Social Security Disability Insurance and its interaction with private disability insurance. The program, which provides near-universal protection against loss of income due to disability for working Americans, is on course for insolvency in 2016.
  • Interaction of Social Security with personal savings, especially those in tax-advantaged retirement savings vehicles. Viewing either Social Security or private savings in isolation leads to an incomplete picture of retirement readiness.
  • The impact of long-term care needs on retirement security. Even for those who have an adequate retirement income, securing it from potential costs related to long-term care can be a daunting task.
  • The role of homeownership and student debt. Home equity can be an important source of retirement security, but student debt may be impeding home purchases and other savings among young Americans.

Leaders and Commission

Commission recommendations will be made by a commission co-chaired by Senator Kent Conrad and the Honorable James B. Lockhart III.

Senator Conrad represented North Dakota in the United States Senate for 26 years and served as the chairman or ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee for 12 years. Lockhart was appointed by President George W. Bush as deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the Social Security Administration and later as director and chairman of the Oversight Board of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. He previously served as the executive director of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation.

The co-chairs will be joined on the commission by a mix of former public officials and nationally recognized experts in savings and insurance.

View all commission members


During 2014 and 2015, the commission will hold roundtables and issue a series of white papers highlighting challenges related to retirement savings, defined contribution accounts, annuities, Social Security Disability Insurance, and the intersection among housing, higher-education debt, and savings. The commission will develop a set of policy recommendations and model their impact on personal savings, retirement readiness, and the federal budget to be presented in a final report in late 2015.

White Papers

A Diversity of Risks: The Challenge of Retirement Preparedness in America

Many Americans are anxious about their retirement prospects. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that not having enough money for retirement is the number one financial worry among Americans. For some, this concern is justified, as they face the daunting prospect of running short of money in their later years. But there is considerable variation in preparedness for retirement, and the challenges are more complicated than many realize.

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Retirement Security Personal Savings


Rethinking Retirement Plans
October 21, 2015

Starting to Save: Innovations for Working America
July 14, 2015

Champions, Critics and Consequences of a New Fiduciary Standard
May 27, 2015

A Bipartisan Opportunity: Improving Retirement Security
May 12, 2015

Making Your 401(k) Last: The Challenge of Lifetime Income in Defined Contribution Retirement Plans
April 1, 2015

Threats to Retirement Security: Longevity, Long-Term Care and Leakage
November 20, 2014

Retirement Security: What’s Working and What’s Not?
July 30, 2014

Launch of the Personal Savings Initiative
April 23, 2014

Staff Analyses

Social Security at 80: Celebrating the Past and Securing the Future
August 14, 2015

Social Security Trustees Warn of Short- and Long-Term Crises
July 23, 2015

Home Equity: Savings for Retirement?
July 7, 2015

The $1.2 Trillion Problem Hurting Americans’ Savings
June 10, 2015

Retirement Boost: How Waiting for Social Security Can Help Increase Your Benefits
April 6, 2015

Four Tips to Help Make Your Savings Last Throughout Retirement
March 31, 2015

Making Your 401(k) Last a Lifetime
March 25, 2015

Barriers to Savings: Asset Tests
March 13, 2015

Disability Insurance Trust Fund Solvency: Act Now and Later
February 27, 2015

Social Security Disability Insurance in Obama’s 2016 Budget
February 3, 2015

Understanding Proposed Reforms to Military Retirement
February 3, 2015

Obama’s Budget Highlights Retirement Security
February 2, 2015

Is MyRA the Only Way
January 26, 2015

Do You Know How Much Your 401(k) Plan Costs the U.S. Government? (They Don’t!)
January 14, 2015

Illinois Enacts Major Retirement Security Legislation
January 7, 2015

Congress to New Federal Employees: Diversify Your Portfolios!
December 22, 2014

Kline-Miller: Making Tough Choices to Improve Solvency for Retiree Plans
December 15, 2014

Lotteries with No Losers Have the Green Light
December 15, 2014

The ABLE Act Would Create New Opportunities to Save for Americans with Disabilities
December 8, 2014

Multiemployer Plans in Trouble
November 24, 2014

Recent Treasury/IRS Regs Encourage Use of Annuities by DC Account Holders
November 17, 2014

Private-sector Defined Benefit Plans and the PBGC
November 10, 2014

Defined Benefit Plans: Where’d They Go?
October 28, 2014

Needing Help: Long-Term Care Risk
October 14, 2014

New Staff Paper Focuses on Diversity in Retirement Preparedness
October 7, 2014

Outliving Your Savings: Longevity Risk
September 29, 2014

U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Holds Hearing on Retirement Savings Reform
September 24, 2014

Leakage: Taking the Money Too Early
September 19, 2014

The Impact of Automatic Features in Defined Contribution Plans
September 11, 2014

Defined Contribution Retirement Accounts: The New Normal
August 20, 2014

Households near retirement don’t have enough savings
June 17, 2014

A Shift to Defined Contribution Retirement Plans
June 10, 2014

Americans are not prepared for financial emergencies
June 3, 2014

Americans are saving less than we used to
May 27, 2014

Prize-Linked Savings Accounts Are Lotteries with No Losers
May 14, 2014

Why is BPC Launching a Personal Savings Initiative?
April 22, 2014

U.K. Budget Proposes Pension and Savings Changes
April 10, 2014