On behalf of our 230,000 members in the state of Maine, AARP Maine applauds the Feb. 27 Press Herald editorial, “Our View: Lack of retirement savings puts generations in peril.” We couldn’t agree more.

Access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan is critical for building financial security later in life. Yet, 46 percent of Maine’s workers ages 18-64 in the private sector – about 235,000 individuals – work for an employer that does not offer a retirement plan option. Roughly 82 percent of these employees make $40,000 or less annually.

About 90 percent of households participating in a workplace retirement plan report that payroll deductions make it easier to save, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. In fact, 62 percent of employees with access to a retirement plan had over $25,000 in total savings and investments, compared to 6 percent of us who save without access to a retirement plan at work.

While Social Security is an important part of retirement security, in Maine the average monthly benefit is just $1,300. Social Security was never intended to be the only source of retirement income, but this is the case for 30 percent of Maine’s retirees.

It is vital for Maine to look at expanding savings options for workers. By helping workers save for their own retirement, Maine could save approximately $23 million in taxpayer contributions for public assistance.

Nationally, AARP endorsed the SIMPLE Plan Modernization Act, which Sen. Susan Collins introduced with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. In Maine, AARP supports L.D. 594, “An Act to Promote Individual Savings Accounts through a Public-Private Partnership.” Sponsored by Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, the bill establishes a Retirement Savings Board to perform a market analysis and feasibility study to address the issue of retirement security in the state.

AARP Maine looks forward to continuing this important discussion. Maine cannot afford to wait any longer. We’re paying for it in the meantime.

Amy Gallant

advocacy director, AARP Maine

Portland


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