President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden,
We are writing to urge the Biden-Harris administration to create an inter-agency retirement security task force to ensure that this critical kitchen-table issue is not overlooked in the national economic recovery effort and beyond.
The proverbial three-legged retirement stool is shakier than ever. Social Security and Medicare face financing shortfalls, while pension plans have largely disappeared for younger workers. At the same time, rising life expectancies, soaring health care and long-term care costs, and rock-bottom interest rates have created new risks to retirement security.
Americans simply are not saving enough to cover the gap, with many ending up short of funds later in life: Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research estimates that half of households—including three-quarters of low-income households—are at risk of not being able to maintain their standard of living in retirement. The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that the aggregate retirement deficit for all households aged 35 to 64, taking into account current Social Security retirement benefits, is $3.83 trillion. Moreover, this issue exemplifies the pervasive inequities your administration has commendably promised to address: Retirement readiness is especially low among workers with low incomes, people of color, and women.
While COVID-19 and the resulting recession have made it even harder for working Americans to achieve secure retirements, the challenge long predates the pandemic and, without your administration’s leadership, will remain after the current crisis passes. Retirement security must be part of building back better.
As organizations that share an interest in and concern for our nation’s retirement readiness, we know that student loan debt, short-term liquid savings, job security, financial literacy, and access to retirement plans all affect workers’ long-term financial wellbeing. These issues, however, are segmented across different agencies in the executive branch, each focusing on a single piece of an interconnected challenge.
That’s why we are calling for the creation of a standing inter-agency task force with leaders from the Executive Office of the President, Department of Labor, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Social Security Administration, Department of the Treasury, Securities and Exchange Commission, White House Gender Policy Council, and other relevant parts of the federal government to convene and collaborate on solutions to address retirement security. Building on the strengths of our existing retirement system, the task force can help advance public policy that considers short- and long-term financial challenges the same way workers do—holistically.
We ask for an executive order to establish this body and require a biannual report to the president and the American public summarizing its work and priorities. We also call for the task force to host a biannual summit that invites a diverse group of stakeholders and experts to discuss some of the most pressing issues in retirement policy.
With millions of Americans at risk of falling short in retirement, time is of the essence. A majority of Americans worry about running out of money in retirement, making it the country’s most common financial worry. Public policy can address many of the urgent challenges facing workers’ retirement savings and income. Our aspiration is for the task force to look broadly at households’ ability to achieve financial security and save during their working years—including issues such as student loan debt, emergency savings, and financial capability—as well as their ability to sustain a lifetime of income and maintain their standard of living in retirement.
Much work needs to be done to fill the gaps in our retirement system, which is why our organizations are all partners in the Funding Our Future (FOF) initiative. The FOF effort is premised upon three key goals agreed to by the 50 organizations in the coalition: (1) make it easier for Americans to save at all ages; (2) help them transform nest eggs into retirement income; and (3) ensure that Social Security continues to be financially stable, for both current and future retirees. The coalition works to highlight the gaps in our existing system, encourage more people to save, and promote solutions that improve financial security for older Americans.
We thank you for your leadership on this issue and look forward to hearing the next steps that your administration will take to support households across the country as they plan and save for retirement. We stand ready to help you work towards our shared vision of ensuring a dignified retirement for all Americans.