Retirement Security - Blog Posts

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April 8, 2016

April 6 was an historic day for consumers.  On that day, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued the so-called Fiduciary Rule.  The Fiduciary Rule, which has been years in the making and has been vigorously opposed by industry, will require retirement investment advisors to act in the best interests of the consumers they are advising.  

January 19, 2016

In 2015, the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act became law.  Under this law, employers with 25 or more employees are mandated to enroll their employees into a retirement savings account that is administered by the State.  Employers who fall below the 25-employee threshold may voluntarily elect to participate in the program. Employees whose employers are participating in the program (whether by mandate or by volunteering) will have the option to opt out of the program.  For those employees who don’t opt out, three percent of their pay will be deposited into the account unless the employee elects a different contribution amount.  Employee enrollment in the program will begin in June 2017. 

January 14, 2016

Millions of low-wage workers and small business employees in the United States are approaching retirement with inadequate savings to supplement Social Security benefits that will replace less than half of their pre-retirement income.  Those workers face a bleak financial future in which their standard of living will be much lower than what they now enjoy as they try to subsist on near poverty-level incomes.

Secure Choice Press Conference
November 16, 2015

This morning it was my honor to join United States Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Senator Daniel Biss, John Rogers of Ariel Investments, and others for a roundtable and press conference to announce the much anticipated proposed rule on retirement savings that will positively impact over a million Illinois private-sector workers. The proposed rule is open for public comments for 60 days.

September 9, 2015

Years ago, as a young married person contemplating starting a family and saving for my children’s college education, I engaged for the first time with a financial planning firm. I learned the hard way the difference between an advisor who earns commissions based on sales of insurance and investment products, and an advisor who works for fees only on a fiduciary basis and does not sell products or earn commissions (such as a fee-only Certified Financial Planner). My initial planner recommended that I invest in a particular 529 college savings plan, without telling me that the recommend plan paid the highest commissions, rather than in a 529 plan with lower costs and better opportunities to grow savings. While I eventually switched my college investments to a lower-cost 529 plan, many people remain stuck in less advantageous college investments because they received advice from advisors who are not acting under a fiduciary standard, which requires that the advisor put the investor’s interests first, not the interests of lining the advisor’s own pockets. Fiduciary standards are needed to protect consumers and help families save more for college.

July 31, 2015

President Obama endorses initiatives to make retirement savings available to workers: “To me, the answer is clear. We need to uphold the basic tenet that says, in America, a lifetime of hard work should be rewarded with a retirement that is secure and dignified,” he wrote. Woodstock Institute agrees with the President, who stated: “This is about more than bank accounts or bottom lines. It’s about the values that make America great — honesty, fair play, dignity. And it’s about our commitment to each other and respecting everyone’s value, no matter how young or old you are.” The President recently called for the Department of Labor to develop rules that will help states set up automatic retirement savings programs for private-sector workers. Woodstock Institute supports this development and calls on the Department to issue the rules quickly. 

April 7, 2015

Millions of Illinois workers struggle to build retirement savings. The tides started to change when former Governor Pat Quinn signed the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program into law. Private sector employers with 25 or more employees who do not offer a retirement savings option will automatically enroll workers into the Secure Choice plan. Employees will fund their Roth IRA accounts through payroll deductions. This achievement could not have been accomplished without the dedicated work of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, a leader in the Secure Choice campaign. Secure Choice’s influence is growing across the country.

February 4, 2015

When then-governor Pat Quinn signed the Secure Choice retirement savings bill into law in January, reporters and policy wonks across the country took notice because the Illinois program could become a model for other states and the federal government.   

 

 

January 6, 2015

Illinois Governor Quinn signed the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program (SB2758) into law on January 4, 2015, establishing the authority for creation of a program that will help millions of private-sector workers in Illinois save  for retirement. 

Springfield
June 9, 2014

The spring Illinois legislative session just came to an end. Here are highlights of what happened in Springfield on issues affecting wealth-building opportunities for Illinoisans:

May 14, 2014
Six years after the financial collapse of 2008, the fight to rebuild our communities has not ended.
Dory Rand
April 18, 2014

As part of Woodstock Institute’s Community Investment Awards event on May 9 in Chicago, we will screen the short documentary film “Fleeced: Speaking Out Against Senior Financial Abuse” and host a panel and audience discussion after the screening.

April 8, 2014

If you work hard, you should be able to retire with dignity. However, over half of private-sector workers in Illinois don't have access to a retirement savings account at their workplace. This leaves a growing number of seniors unable to make ends meet during retirement.

April 2, 2014
One in five older Americans is a victim of financial abuse and fraud. People who have saved for decades can be left with nothing as a result of a financial scam.
Senator Biss
March 26, 2014

As we have documented extensively, there is a looming retirement security crisis in Illinois.

February 7, 2014

Over half of the private-sector workforce in Illinois—that’s more than 2.5 million people—lacks access to an employment-based retirement savings plan, Woodstock Institute research found.

September 24, 2013

For our 40th anniversary, we have secured some incredible keynote speakers you’re sure to enjoy. From a range of backgrounds and expertise, our speakers will make you think differently about the work you do every day.

September 16, 2013

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as tomorrow on devastating cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps). 

Tags: snap
September 12, 2013
As more and more baby boomers retire, the financial security of older Americans is becoming of greater importance to our society.
July 26, 2013

In the early 1970s, Aaron and Sylvia Scheinfeld were unhappy with the state of things in the Chicago region. Redlining, predatory lending, and inequality plagued the area.

Dory Rand
July 17, 2013

Yesterday I celebrated my first five years with Woodstock Institute. When I joined Woodstock as president in 2008, the financial crisis was just getting into full swing and the future was quite uncertain. 

June 14, 2013

Today at its annual Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting, Woodstock Institute announced its “Commitment to Action,” which will further our work to strengthen retirement security.

May 28, 2013

A bill that removes the asset limit for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients in Illinois, making it easier for them to build savings, has passed both chambers of the General Assembly and is on its way to the Governor’s desk. 

August 17, 2010

As bank regulators take a close look at modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) through a series of hearings and public comment period, we’re walking you through some key reasons why CRA must be updated. Last week, we explained how assessment areas don’t fully capture where a bank does business (see the discussion at Huffington Post). Today we’ll explain how CRA applies only to a fraction of the financial industry and why communities need a broader CRA to ensure that all financial institutions are offering safe and sustainable products where they do business.

August 17, 2010

As bank regulators take a close look at modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) through a series of hearings and public comment period, we’re walking you through some key reasons why CRA must be updated. Last week, we explained how assessment areas don’t fully capture where a bank does business (see the discussion at Huffington Post). Today we’ll explain how CRA applies only to a fraction of the financial industry and why communities need a broader CRA to ensure that all financial institutions are offering safe and sustainable products where they do business.

April 5, 2010

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Social Security program designed to help the most vulnerable Americans with disabilities meet basic needs, has seen several successful efforts to encourage recipients to work, but still discourages savings, says a recent Woodstock Institute letter to Illinois lawmakers.

January 22, 2010

According to recent news reports, Illinois’ bankruptcies are going up—and outpacing the rest of the nation. In northern Illinois, bankruptcy filings rose by 38% in 2009, compared to 34.5% growth nationally. The trend looks likely to continue in 2010.

December 4, 2009

The Savings for American Families' Future Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 1961) would expand access to retirement savings for low- and moderate-wealth Americans.

February 26, 2009

Currently about half of all workers lack workplace pensions or retirement plans. Among the President’s many bold ideas outlined in his recent address to Congress and 2010 budget are two little-noticed proposals for helping people build retirement security.

January 21, 2009

President Obama said in his inaugural speech today that “a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended … on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart….”  As we “begin again the work of remaking America,” we need to remember and apply some key messages from the speech to address the economic crisis.