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Idahoans and their well-earned retirement savings

by SEN. MIKE CRAPO/Contributing Writer
| August 4, 2022 1:00 AM

Idahoans work very hard. Some work well beyond a typical retirement age. Having the retirement savings necessary to enable Idahoans to choose whether to work, rather than needing to work, in senior years can better ensure a secure and enjoyable retirement. As Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, I worked with Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to craft the Enhancing Americans Retirement Now (EARN) Act that would expand opportunities for Americans to increase their retirement savings and improve workers’ long-term financial well-being. The Committee approved the EARN Act unanimously (28-0), paving the way for its enactment.

Retirement savings statistics based on survey data including statistics published by Annuity.org are concerning:

According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement, the median total household retirement savings across all workers is approximately $93,000;

Women have smaller retirement savings overall, with an average $57,000 saved, compared to men’s $118,000;

Forty-eight percent of workers believe they do not make enough money to adequately save for retirement; and

Twenty-two percent of Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement, while 15 percent have no retirement savings whatsoever.

In 2019, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act to expand opportunities for Americans to save for retirement. The EARN Act builds on the SECURE Act and will increase participation in retirement plans, strengthen and encourage private retirement savings, and make it easier for employers to offer retirement plans. The EARN Act strengthens retirement savings in a fiscally-responsible way by:

Encouraging small businesses to adopt retirement plans through increasing the retirement plan startup tax credit and making plans more attractive for small businesses;

Making it easier for part-time workers to participate in retirement plans by decreasing the number of years part-time workers need to work to be eligible to participate in plans;

Providing workers and retirees the ability to save more and save longer by increasing the age workers are required to start taking distributions;

Improving options for retirees by expanding the use of annuities and incentivizing the purchase of long-term care insurance; and

Helping first responders, firefighters and those with special needs save for retirement.

The bill also makes many important changes that allow flexibility for emergencies, like penalty-free withdrawals for terminally-ill patients, domestic abuse survivors and those affected by federally declared disasters. This comprehensive bill makes changes to support retirement savings beyond what can be listed in this column. For more information, a summary of the bill can be found on the Senate Finance Committee website, at www.finance.senate.gov.

I frequently hear from small business owners in Idaho who tell me how expensive and cumbersome the rules are to offer their employees a retirement plan. These employers want to provide retirement benefits, but it is just not economically feasible. Additionally, our economy is constantly changing. People are working longer. Workers are changing jobs more often and the number of ‘gig workers’ is on the rise. Our retirement system must adapt with this changing landscape so every worker has a chance to save for a secure retirement. The EARN Act would help address these concerns as it would encourage workers to save so they can enjoy a secure retirement. I look forward to the EARN Act becoming law.

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Mike Crapo represents Idaho’s First Congressional District in the U.S. Senate. He can be reached at crapo.senate.gov.

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