After years of hard work, one’s golden year is a time for relaxation and leisure. However, the American retirement dream is fading into a distant fantasy for numerous individuals. 

As people age, financial instability becomes increasingly prevalent, transforming retirement into a luxury attainable by only a select few. 

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) underscores this harsh truth in a recent report. He highlights the daunting obstacles confronting those on the brink of retirement or contemplating it.

As the chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Sanders prioritizes resolving this crisis. He wants to leverage this momentum to unveil the extent of the retirement crisis in America. 

His aim is to find solutions that ensure all individuals, not solely the affluent few, can retire with dignity and security.

The Troubling Truth

The National Retirement Risk Index, cited in Sanders’ report, reveals a troubling revelation. Nearly half of all American households are on track to experience a decline in their quality of life post-retirement. 

The predicament is even more dire for 56% of low-income and 45% of middle-income households. These individuals are facing the prospect of being unable to sustain their standard of living once they reach 65. 

Disparities widen when examining wealth distribution. Around 73% of the least affluent face risk, compared to just 28% of the wealthiest.

Sanders’ report succinctly states a fundamental truth — “After a lifetime of hard work, Americans deserve to retire with dignity.”

However, the existing retirement system primarily serves the interests of Wall Street. It leaves numerous workers confronting the possibility of an economically unstable retirement. 

Need for Reform

The urgent need for reform becomes evident as a growing number of older Americans live perilously close to the poverty threshold. 

According to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, more than half of Americans have incomes of $30,000 or less yearly. These individuals are within the 65 and above age range. Nearly a quarter manage incomes between $10,000 and $19,999 annually.

The Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances uncovers another troubling issue — insufficient retirement savings. Only 42% of Americans aged 75 and older, and 51% of those between 65 and 74, possess retirement accounts. 

This absence of a financial safety net is concerning. It’s particularly concerning that approximately 10% of older Americans already live below the poverty line — a number that would skyrocket to 38% without income from Social Security. 

Despite this, the U.S. Social Security benefits lag behind those of many other wealthy nations. It currently provides less than 40% of a worker’s earnings, which is lower than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) average of 51.8%.

Resolution to the Crisis

In addressing this crisis, Sanders and other lawmakers proposed several legislative solutions to bolster Social Security benefits. They also aim to institute automatic savings accounts for children and establish retirement accounts for individuals without employer-provided options. 

These initiatives are vital, considering that many older Americans struggle financially. They work with their condition, but they still support their adult children while the latter navigate their economic hurdles. 

The discourse surrounding retirement and financial security has never been more pressing. It underscored the urgent necessity for systemic reforms. These changes guarantee that retiring with dignity will be achievable for all Americans.

Seek Advice from Finance Experts

Individuals feeling uncertain about their financial preparedness for retirement should seek guidance from a financial advisor. This step is crucial in gaining clarity and assurance regarding their plans. 

A financial advisor shares a wealth of knowledge and expertise in retirement planning. They also provide tailored strategies that fit an individual’s financial circumstances, objectives, and risk tolerance.