SSA Experts Urge Caution on Retirement Crisis Rhetoric

Two former Social Security executives took to the editorial pages of the Wall St. Journal to contest the findings of many recent studies, representing Americans as woefully underprepared for retirement. They argue that the methodology of these studies, relying on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, fails to account for additional income retired Americans may be receiveing through programs such as IRAs and 401(k)s.

“The Census Bureau’s definition of income, however, includes only payments made on a regular, periodic basis,” the authors argue. “So monthly benefits paid from a defined benefit pension or an annuity are counted as income, while as-needed withdrawals from 401(k)s or IRAs are not.”

While acknowledging that pension reform is certainly necessary, the authors claim that misrepresenting the actual state of the nation’s retirement programs hinders such efforts and serves the interests of no one.

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