Retirement Policy Program and Health Policy Center
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Older Americans face an uncertain retirement future. Policies are urgently needed to shore up Social Security and Medicare, get health care spending under control, and make staying in the labor force at older ages easier, while still protecting disabled workers. This policy brief summarizes a wide-ranging discussion of retirement issues to explore how public policies might adapt to an aging population.
Falling stock prices cut deep into retirement
accounts in 2008, dealing yet another blow to our
fragile retirement income system. A generation
ago, many retirees could count on guaranteed
monthly pensions, Social Security, and Medicare
for financial and health security. Instead of traditional
pensions, many people approaching retirement
today have 401(k)-type plans that have been
battered by the plunging stock market.
Promised benefits from Social Security and
Medicare are not sustainable in the long run and
will have to be cut unless additional revenues
can be found. Declining home equity, rising
health care costs, uncertain long-term care needs,
low private saving rates, and rising federal
deficits further cloud the retirement outlook.
It all adds up to a retirement dilemma that
will affect all Americans, not only those nearing
retirement. Workers will be expected to finance a
large share of the bill for retirees: fixing government
retirement programs could require higher
tax burdens for everyone. We must think creatively
about solutions that consider the whole
interconnected cycle of work and retirement. In
that spirit, the Urban Institute convened a roundtable
of experts in retirement, aging, health, and
long-term care policy to discuss the new rules of
retirement and explore how public policies might
adapt to the diverse needs of aging baby boomers.
(End of excerpt. The entire brief is available in PDF format.)
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