A growing and lethal crisis faces millions of retirees and our aging workforce. Americans are living longer and many need to work well beyond the traditional retirement age of 65. This challenge has only been intensified by the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked on the economy.
The iconic “three-legged stool” of retirement security—pensions, savings and Social Security—has lost two legs. The remaining leg, Social Security, is an essential safety net for tens of millions. Yet at this moment, when it is needed more than ever, it is being attacked as a budget-busting benefit. The numbers tell a frightening story:
- In 1980, half of private sector workers had defined benefit pensions; today less than 15% do
- 50% of workers 50-64 have less than $14,000 in savings to finance 20-30 year retirements
- Social Security pays an average of $1,372 a month (1,196 for women vs. 1,503 for men)– half the income of 50 percent of seniors and 90 percent of total income for 1 in 4
Respectful Exits is a collaboration of aging workers and age-inclusive employers committed to redesigning our unsustainable trajectory of work and retirement in an era of increased longevity. Through a campaign to change short-sighted employer practices, we enable fuller participation of all workers across the lifecycle. Cutting Social Security while we restore the other elements of livable retirement would erase most potential gains.
From our different perspectives—prospective and current recipients, employers large and small, office holders and office seekers—we say simply: Social Security must be preserved and strengthened. Future cuts should not be on any political candidate’s policy agenda in 2020. They would be devastating to individuals, families, communities and the consumer economy.
We, the undersigned, commit ourselves and ask all current public office seekers and office holders to make and seek support for this simple pledge: