A growing crisis faces millions of retirees and our aging workforce. Our people are living longer and many need to work well beyond traditional retirement ages. Yet age discrimination shortens their working lives. The iconic “three-legged stool” of retirement security – pensions, savings and Social Security – has lost two legs and the last, a vital safety net for tens of millions, is being targeted as an unaffordable benefit, increasingly at-risk:
- 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
The Challenge of Retirement Security
Into this moment come those who seek to undermine the program that has lifted and kept America’s elderly out of poverty for nearly a century. In the name of deficit reduction, they argue that fiscal prudence requires cuts to Social Security. In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, at a time of great economic strength, now is the time to strengthen, not weaken this proven social insurance program. .
Respectful Exits is a collaboration of aging workers and age-inclusive employers who are committed to redesigning our unsustainable trajectory of work and retirement in an era of increased longevity. Through a robust campaign of education and action, we promote an agenda of practical and proven changes employers can make to enable longer and fuller participation of all workers across the lifecycle. Cutting Social Security would fly in the face of these potential gains.
Our focus is on private sector change because in the United States of America the conditions of life and retirement are disproportionately influenced by the actions of our business community. Until recently, we have relied on private pensions and modest Social Security to assure sustainable retirements. It is imperative that we begin to broaden the opportunities for an aging workforce and not further weaken Social Security.
Standing with America's Aging Workforce and Retirees
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 candidates’ policy agenda in 2020.
Weakening Social Security will harm present and future retirees and their families and communities. It will be devastating for the disabled and the larger economy. Enabling aging workers to work and save as long as they wish and including Social Security as part of sustainable retirements will strengthen vital demand in our consumer-driven economy.
We, the undersigned, commit ourselves and ask all current public office seekers and office holders to make this simple pledge: