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.

Quick Links

Report: Building Retirement Security Through Defined Contribution Plans (PDF) authored by Professors Jeffrey R. Brown and Scott J. Weisbenner, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Key Facts and Figures: The Strength of the Private Retirement System (PDF).

Retirement Savings and Tax Reform White Paper (PDF): ACLI stresses that government policy should continue to support Americans’ retirement security.

ACLI Policy Issue Brief—State-Run Retirement Proposals (PDF), January 2015

For more information about the private retirement system, visit

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.

Publications and Resources

In the News

ACLI Letter to the Editor: Government Shouldn't Get into the Business of Retirement Plans
The Baltimore Sun, 1/5/2016

ACLI Letter to the Editor: State Retirement Plans
The New York Times, 12/04/2015

Launching Nationwide, MyRA Offers Free Way to Save for Retirement
USA TODAY, 11/04/2015

ACLI Applauds Senate Finance Committee Working Group Report On Improving Americans' Retirement Security

MyRA Retirement Savings Program Launches Nationwide

(November 2015) In November, the U.S. Treasury Department launched “My Retirement Account” or “myRA," a government-sponsored retirement savings initiative. This new program is designed to encourage American families to plan for retirement and can be a helpful tool for those who do not have access to workplace retirement savings plans.

Announced during President Obama’s State Of The Union address in 2014, myRA offers starter accounts that cost nothing to open, have no fees, and savers can contribute as little as a dollar.

Learn more on the myRA website.

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

(Updated 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

(Updated 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).

ACLI Policy Issue Brief: State-Run Retirement Proposals

(Updated January 2015) Information about state-run retirement proposals including an overview, ACLI's position, and other resources. Download the policy issue brief (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)

MyRA: New Retirement Savings Initiative Announced

A new retirement savings account initiative was announced during President Obama’s State Of The Union address, representing an important development in the discussion about boosting Americans’ retirement security.

The “My Retirement Account” or “myRA” will offer a new retirement savings opportunity aimed to help individuals who do not currently have a retirement savings plan at work. Deposits will be easy with payroll deduction and savings investment will be backed by the U.S. government.

Retirement security is a vital issue for Americans of all ages. Today, employer-sponsored retirement plans offer more than 83 million American workers and their families the opportunity to accumulate savings and improve their retirement security. IRAs and individual annuities are available for all workers without access to employer-sponsored plans as well as to supplement retirement savings. The president’s “MyRA plan” will be another useful tool to encourage people to start saving for retirement.

Learn more on the myRA website.

Watch the video: U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios Talks myRA: A New Retirement Savings Account.

ACLI White Paper: Retirement Savings and Tax Reform

(9/16/2014) ACLI continues to urge policy-makers to build on the current retirement savings system and reject any proposals that would limit Americans’ opportunity to save and prepare for their future. Download the white paper (PDF).

Report: Building Retirement Security Through Defined Contribution Plans

(2/10/2014) 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).

GAO Report Shows Small Businesses Helping Growth of Defined Contribution Plans

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released areport in April 2014 (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. 

DOL Draft Proposal for Lifetime Income Illustration

ACLI supports the Department of Labor's draft proposal that would help workers understand how their retirement savings translate into lifetime income. The proposed rule would allow workers to see in their pension statements what their 401(k) account balances would look like if the worker received a monthly check for life rather than a lump sum. Workers could then gauge the amount of money they might need in retirement and accordingly adjust their savings habits and investment strategies.

Read the DOL's May 20, 2013 newsletter, Before It's Too Late: A Retirement Security Update From Assistant Secretary Phyllis C. Borzi, for more information on the proposal. 

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

Comments: Governor Kempthorne Letter on DOL Proposal's Impact on Retirement Security
Posted 7/13/2015. ACLI President and CEO Governor Dirk Kempthorne letters to Sens. Crapo (R-ID) and 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.

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

Report: Our Private Retirement System: An American Success Story
Posted 12/4/2013. ACLI, the American Benefits Council (ABC) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI) have issued a report, Our Private Retirement System: An American Success Story, that makes clear that voluntary, employer-sponsored retirement plans provide a strong foundation of savings for millions of American workers at all ages and income levels.

Download the complete report (PDF).
Download the report summary (PDF).