Some members of Congress are looking for ways to encourage older workers to stay on the job as they approach and pass the normal retirement age.[@@]
Witnesses talked about “phased retirement” programs and other strategies for keeping older workers in the workforce here today at a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
The baby boomers are aging, life expectancies are rising, and encouraging Americans to continue working later in life could ease the labor shortage that might be created when the boomers leave the workforce, according to Barbara Bovbjerg, a workforce expert at the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
“Federal policymakers may want to consider creating incentives for older Americans who are able to work to remain in the workforce and ensuring that federal policies do not discourage the choice to work longer,” Bovbjerg testified at the hearing. “Doing so could enhance future supplies of skilled workers, bolster economic growth and help many people secure adequate retirement income.”
But Valerie Paganelli, a senior consulting actuary at Watson Wyatt Worldwide, Washington, said federal rules actively discourage employers and older workers from using phased retirement programs, or programs that give workers a chance to shift to part-time work before leaving their employers.
The government gives employers tax advantages for offering qualified retirement plans for employees, but it creates disincentives for all but nominal efforts to fund retiree health plans while workers are still working, Paganelli said.