Retirement Plans


The private retirement system provides a robust and growing foundation for millions of Americans’ retirement security through defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s, as well as IRAs and individual annuities. In fact, nearly 80% of full-time workers have access to workplace retirement plans and more than 80% of those with access participate in the plans. Employer-based retirement plans play a vital role in creating a safe and secure retirement. To help even more American families prepare for retirement, the life insurance industry is committed to working with policymakers to advance balanced solutions to expand access and increase savings.

ACLI Position

ACLI supports proposals that create more choices for employers and workers, encourage participation in workplace-based plans and IRAs, and promote increased use of annuities to guarantee lifetime income. We strongly support proposals that call on employers to annually illustrate the monthly income workers can expect in retirement based on their current retirement savings account balances. We also support issuing regulatory guidance to facilitate the use of annuities in retirement plans.

Policymakers should continue to explore ways to encourage Americans to plan for a lifetime income in retirement. ACLI supports educational initiatives that highlight the role annuities can play in helping workers save and guarantee lifetime income in retirement—especially those without access to workplace retirement plans.

Today's workers face two hurdles: how to accumulate savings for retirement and how to manage savings to last throughout retirement. Annuities offer solutions to both sides of the retirement equation. They provide ways to save and then can turn savings into a steady stream of income for life.

There has been increased interest among policy-makers about the role annuities play in creating lifetime income in retirement. In 2014, the IRS and U.S. Department of Treasury made it easier Americans to access guaranteed lifetime income options. New rules were released to encourage Americans’ use of longevity annuities—products that protect those planning for the long-term by providing payments at later ages, for example, at age 85. The new rules enable these products to be provided in 401(k) plans and IRAs.

Notably, our nation's largest employer—the federal government—in 2011 began to annually illustrate to participants in its defined contribution plan (the Thrift Savings Plan) how much monthly annuity income workers can expect in retirement from current account balances.

We support initiatives that encourage defined contribution plan sponsors to include annuity distribution options in their plans. ACLI also supports the Lifetime Income Disclosure Act, which would require defined contribution plan sponsors to provide workers with an illustration of how their retirement savings translate into guaranteed monthly income payments in retirement. This provision, as well as provisions that would clarify the current annuity selection safe harbor and provide lifetime income portability, were included in the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2016, which unanimously passed the Senate Finance Committee on September 21, 2016.

Publications and Resources

The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA) of 2016
(September 2016) On September 21, 2016, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA) of 2016. ACLI supports this bipartisan bill.

NERA Study Released on DOL Retirement Regulation
(March 2015) On March 16, SIFMA released a new study entitled, Review of the White House Report Titled 'The Effects of Conflicted Investment Advice on Retirement Savings,' from the National Economic Research Associates (NERA). The study identifies flaws in figures cited in the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors Report and frequently reiterated by supporters of a proposed retirement regulation from the Department of Labor. Download the full study. (PDF)

Variable Annuities: Consumer Information
(February 2015) A variable annuity is a unique retirement product offered by life insurers that helps people grow their savings tax-deferred and offers a guaranteed stream of lifetime income in retirement. Learn more from ACLI's downloadable PDFs.

ACLI Testimony for Hearing on Maintaining the Disability Insurance Trust Fund's Solvency
(February 2015) ACLI submitted testimony on February 25 to the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee for their Maintaining the SSDI Trust Fund’s Solvency hearing. Download the full testimony. (PDF)

Federal Solutions to Retirement Security
(February 2015) The U.S. private retirement system is strong and provides savings options for millions of Americans. Common-sense improvements can strengthen our private retirement system. Learn more from ACLI's fact sheet (PDF).

Think Tank: Better Financial Security in Retirement? Realizing the Promise of Longevity Annuities
(November 2014) The Brookings Institution highlights how recent trends in the retirement landscape have precipitated a need for products that offer protection against longevity risk. Download the complete report (PDF)

GAO Report Shows Small Businesses Helping Growth of Defined Contribution Plans
(April 2014) The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report (PDF) demonstrating that small employers have had a significant role in the growth of defined contribution plans. According to the GAO, more than 90 percent of retirement plans that have been formed in recent years have been defined contribution plans, with the overwhelming majority of those plans set up by small employers. 

Report: Building Retirement Security Through Defined Contribution Plans
(February 2014) Professors Jeffrey R. Brown and Scott J. Weisbenner, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, discuss in a new report why employer-sponsored defined contribution (DC) plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are such an important part of the U.S. retirement system. Download the complete report (PDF).

ACLI Guides: Understanding Retirement Plan Fees

Guide for Participants
Retirement Plan Fees Disclosed in New Format
ACLI developed a guide to help you understand the fees associated with managing and servicing your workplace retirement savings plan. It describes the fee information you receive annually and explains how to compare the true costs of different investment options. Download the Guide (PDF).

Guide for Fiduciaries
Employers: Understanding Retirement Plan Fees
Under new Labor Department rules, employers now receive more detailed information about the fees and expenses associated with their retirement plans. ACLI developed a guide to help employers understand the requirements and better compare the fees charged by different service providers. Download the Guide (PDF).

See Also

Governor Kempthorne's Letters to Sponsors of the Lifetime Income Disclosure Act
ACLI supports the Lifetime Income Disclosure Act, (S. 868 and H.R. 2055), which would give workers an important new information resource to help them boost their retirement security. ACLI President and CEO Dirk Kempthorne wrote to thank the sponsors of the legislation: Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Reps. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Mark Pocan (D-WI). 4/06/2017

Letter to Senate Sponsors
Letter to House Sponsors

Governor Kempthorne's Letters on DOL Proposal's Impact on Retirement Security
ACLI President and CEO Governor Dirk Kempthorne wrote to Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), co-chairs of the Senate Finance Committee Savings and Investment Working Group, thanking the Senators for their work on emphasizing the negative impact that the U.S. Department of Labor's proposed fiduciary rule would have on the financial and retirement security of American families. 7/13/2015

Letter to Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Letter to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)