Providing Guaranteed Income a Priority for Americans

October 9, 2008 ( - A special edition of the Transamerica Retirement Survey reveals that Americans want the next President and Congress to focus on guaranteeing retirement income.

According to a Transamerica press release, when survey respondents were asked what top three priorities the new President and Congress should focus on to improve Americans’ ability to achieve a financially secure retirement, the majority of survey respondents (57%) cited fully funding Social Security in its current state to ensure Americans receive their guaranteed benefits.

Thirty-four percent of the respondents overall cited educating Americans early by implementing financial literacy curriculums in the schools; however, among full-time workers, the second priority behind fully funding Social Security was to encourage 401(k) plans to pay benefits in a form that guarantees a set level of monthly income, regardless of how long they live (34%, compared to 28% for respondents overall).

Other priorities for the next administration cited include:

  • Provide tax credits to workers (earning up to $50,000 of annual income) who make contributions to an IRA or a 401(k) plan (or a similar plan). (26%)
  • Provide incentives for the purchase of long-term care insurance. (24%)
  • Ensure that all workers have the ability to contribute to a 401(k) plan (or a similar type of plan). (21%)
  • Ensure that all workers not covered by a 401(k) plan (or similar plan) have the ability to make regular IRA contributions at the workplace through payroll deduction. (20%)
  • Privatize Social Security by creating individual savings accounts. (18%)
  • Encourage financial education at the workplace through employer incentives and other reforms. (15%)

Americans' confidence in their ability to retire comfortably has declined significantly over the past year, according to the Transamerica survey.

The press release said 45% of adult Americans are less confident in their ability to achieve a financially secure retirement than they were 12 months ago. Only 14% claim to be more confident.

The majority of Americans (57%) cite "just getting by" or "paying off debt" as their greatest financial priority, while only 12% cite "saving for retirement."

Among survey respondents who identified themselves as full-time workers, only 54% claim to be confident in achieving a comfortable retirement - a decrease from 59% in the Ninth Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, conducted nearly one year ago. Only 18% of full-time workers cite "saving for retirement" as their greatest financial priority right now, down from 27%.

However, the survey revealed positive signs that many are staying on track with their retirement savings. Participation rates are holding steady among full-time workers who have access to a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan, with 77% currently participating. In addition, 31% of participants have increased their contribution rates into their retirement plans in the last twelve months, while only 11% have decreased their contribution rates or stopped contributing.

The Special Edition Transamerica Retirement Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies between September 5 and September 9, 2008, among 3,258 U.S. adults age 18 years and over, including 861 full-time workers of for-profit companies with 10 or more employees.