Half of Older Households Have No Retirement Savings

Sanders Cites GAO Study in Push to Expand Social Security

WASHINGTON, June 2 – A new study prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) found that more than half of all American households with someone 55 or older have no retirement savings.

The Government Accountability Office study was requested by Sanders, the lead sponsor of legislation to increase Social Security benefits.

“This report makes it clear that there is a retirement crisis in America today.  At a time when half of all older workers have no retirement savings, we need to expand, not cut, Social Security benefits so that every American can retire with dignity,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ Social Security Expansion Act would make the wealthiest Americans pay the same share of their income into the retirement program as other wage earners. That change would extend the solvency of Social Security through 2065 and allow Social Security benefits to go up.  Under the measure, the average benefit would increase by $65 a month, cost-of-living adjustments would more accurately measure inflation for seniors and the minimum benefit would be raised to lift millions of seniors out of poverty.  

“Social Security is the most successful program in our nation's history. At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we have got to demand that the richest people in this country pay their fair share,”‎ the senator said.

The GAO found that poverty rates are higher for people approaching retirement and people who are 75 and older.  Altogether, 52 percent of households 55 and older have no savings. Forty-one percent of households age 55-64 have zero savings. More than a quarter of households age 55-64 have no pension and a median net worth of only about $9,000.

Four in 10 retirees are very concerned about “not having enough income to get by.” With few other retirement resources, Social Security is the primary source of income for seniors.  GAO has found that without Social Security, 43 percent of seniors 65 and older would be thrown into poverty.  

The GAO report noted that the federal government forgoes $68 billion in revenue each year in retirement savings incentives mainly to benefit the wealthiest Americans.

To read the report, click here.