While members of Congress concede that overhauling Social Security is off the table this year, industry officials are optimistic that Congress will finish this year another crucial piece of the retirement savings puzzle: pension reform.
Rep. Bill Thomas (R-California), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was scheduled to release his sweeping retirement savings package–which included Social Security reform–in September. But those plans were derailed when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in late August. Since then, Thomas has focused on providing tax relief to hurricane victims, and has passed two bills providing such relief, with more on the way, according to a spokesperson for Thomas.
The IRS and Treasury Department are also working to provide relief to those affected by the hurricane. In September, the IRS and Treasury said that 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans could make loans and hardship distributions to victims of Hurricane Katrina and members of their families. Withdrawals must be made by March 31, 2006.