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A Look at America’s ‘Broken Retirement System’

Michael Rainey

Millions of baby boomers are discovering that getting older isn’t getting any easier, thanks in part to a retirement system that fails to deliver security for millions of Americans.

“Every day, 10,000 Americans reach the age of 65,” Will Englund says Monday in The Washington Post, noting that the number will peak at 12,000 a day in 2024. “And every year, fewer and fewer of them have traditional employer-sponsored pensions to support them. The system that was supposed to provide for them is shot through with holes.”

Fewer than half of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 participate in a job-based retirement savings plan, and the pandemic-induced recession will likely push millions of older workers who do have 401(k)s to tap them for emergency funds, reducing their nest eggs. More broadly, the shift from pension plans to market-based retirement accounts has increased the risk for participants of failing to prepare properly in a complex and sometimes confusing financial system.

“We’ve probably peaked in terms of retirement security — and it’s not great,” Monique Morrisey of the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute tells Englund. “And now it’s all downhill. Unless something changes, we’re going to start seeing much more hardship.”

The Post spoke to six Americans who are facing those hardships as they enter retirement. Read Englund’s conversation with baby boomers facing the harsh world of retirement with limited funds. 

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