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Financial Resilience for Our Longer Lives

Let's ring in 2015 by working together on solutions

Financial resilience, group of people, Jo Ann Jenkins column

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Let’s work together to find economic solutions to match the needs of individuals 50-plus and their longer life expectancies.

En español l We begin the new year by welcoming a new generation — Gen X — to AARP, and a new Congress to Washington. If one message came through from November's elections, it is that Americans don't want empty New Year's resolutions; they want New Year's solutions.

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At AARP, we will work with the new Congress, private enterprise, nonprofits and all of our members to find solutions. One area we will emphasize is financial resilience.

We want to help create an America where individuals 50-plus have the financial resources and opportunities to match their longer life expectancy. Here's where we will concentrate our efforts.

Social Security

Social Security is the foundation of retirement income security. For the last two years, we have called upon Congress to lead a national discussion about the future of Social Security. That hasn't happened. So, in 2015 — in conjunction with Social Security's 80th birthday — AARP will initiate a national discussion about how to ensure the program is strengthened and can provide an adequate benefit for today's and tomorrow's beneficiaries. We recognize that it may take time to reach a solution on Social Security's long-term solvency. But if we don't begin the discussion now, the solution will lie further into the future.

Workplace Savings

Increasing private retirement savings is critical to overall economic growth and to individuals' future income security. Yet millions of Americans either do not have any retirement savings or have saved far less than they will need for an adequate retirement. In 2015, AARP will focus on passing state laws to create tax-deferred payroll deduction saving plans to increase both the number of people who save and the amount they save. We will also increase our efforts to educate all workers on the need to save sufficient amounts for their retirement and how to do it. Payroll deduction combined with automatic enrollment has proved to be an efficient and effective way to achieve these goals.

Work

Almost half of all employees ages 45 to 70 envision working well into their 70s and beyond. For some this is a choice; for others, a necessity. In 2014, we worked to raise awareness of the changes taking place in today's workforce, influence employer perceptions and approaches to 50-plus workers, end age discrimination in the workplace and develop best-in-class skill-building resources oriented to the needs of 50-plus workers.

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In 2015, we will continue to expand our resources for people 50-plus on how to find a job, manage their careers, start a business and stay competitive in a workplace where technological savvy and quick adaptation are in demand.

We believe that anyone 50-plus who wants or needs to work should be able to work. It's not only essential to achieving financial security, it also benefits our economy and society.

Fighting Fraud

Identity theft, investment fraud and other scams cost Americans $18 billion last year. People 50-plus are often targets because they tend to have more assets. AARP's Fraud Watch Network tracks the latest scams and alerts you to the ones most prevalent in your area, shows you how con artists steal your money and provides a phone number you can call to talk to volunteers who are trained in how to spot and report fraud. In 2015, we want to increase the Fraud Watch Network to help protect your nest egg.

The National Center for Health Statistics says a child born in 2012 has an average life expectancy of 78.8 years, and that a person turning 65 can expect to live an additional 19.3 years, both new records. We want all Americans to have the financial resources and opportunities to match these longer life expectancies. Please join us in this effort.

Jo Ann Jenkins is the chief executive officer of AARP.

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