Retirement Plans


As society and work changes, life insurers are committed to solutions that protect all Americans, regardless of where and how they work, their stage in life, or the economic status of their household. Americans are living longer, and financial security into retirement is a big challenge facing our country. 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 policymakers 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. ACLI has long supported 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.

ACLI strongly support initiatives like the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA), which was introduced by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) in February 2019. RESA expands access to retirement plans for millions of workers, provides lifetime income protection for savers and makes it easier for employers to offer annuities in their plans.

Congress should pass RESA as soon as possible. This legislation would upgrade the successful private-sector retirement system.  

Publications and Resources

Statements for the Record


National Retirement Planning Week (NRPW)
(April 2019) National Retirement Planning Week is April 8-12, 2019. Life insurers are leading providers of retirement solutions, including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457s, IRAs, and annuities, managing 18 percent of all defined contribution plan assets and 14 percent of all IRA assets. More than 16 percent of Americans' long-term savings is in permanent life insurance and retirement annuities.

Variable Annuities: Consumer Information
(March 2018) 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

Assessing Americans' Financial and Retirement Security
(September 2017) Assessing Americans' Financial and Retirement Security is a comprehensive analysis by ACLI that presents a high-level snapshot of Americans' current state of financial and retirement security. Learn more here

For older publications and resources, go to the archive page.

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).