January 31, 2013

For additional information:
Jason Hammersla
office 202-289-6700
cell 202-422-4652 (cell)

Senate HELP hearing a good opportunity to examine improving retirement policy

Council urges stable environment for 401(k), pension plans

WASHINGTON, DC — "With the nation's attention focused on both economic growth and deficit reduction, Congress should acknowledge the indispensable role played by pensions and 401(k) plans," said American Benefits Council President James Klein, on the occasion of today's U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee's hearing, Pension Savings: Are Workers Saving Enough for Retirement?

"Retirement savings plans are not only essential for the financial security of 129 million Americans enrolled in over 700,000 employer plans, but the $6.3 trillion in retirement assets is a critical source of investment capital for economic growth. Moreover, as discussions concerning deficit reduction inevitably turn toward entitlement program reforms, it is vitally important to recognize that without a strong employer-sponsored system, the financial pressure on Social Security would be even greater," Klein said.

"Enabling Americans to save more, therefore, is necessary for both economic growth and for ensuring retirement income security," Klein said.

"As successful as these plans are, there is still room for improvement. Employers are now focused on expanding coverage and enhancing benefit adequacy so retirees don't outlive their savings," Klein said. To achieve these goals, the Council recommends:

  • Enhancing 401(k) automatic enrollment and automatic escalation features;
  • Workable rules for hybrid pension plans;
  • A more stable and flexible regulatory environment for the funding of traditional pension plans; and
  • Streamlining notice requirements and permitting increased electronic communication between plans and participants.

"This hearing presents lawmakers with an opportunity to stabilize and strengthen employer-sponsored plans, thereby improving Americans' retirement security while supporting the economy and reducing pressure on federal entitlement programs," Klein said.

For more information on retirement savings, or to arrange an interview with Council policy staff, please contact Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications, at 202-289-6700 (office) or (202) 422-4652 (cell).

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The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.