Some of the retirement savings ideas that emerged from a recent government-sponsored brainstorming meeting could create opportunities for life insurers.
The U.S. Department of Labor posted the final report for the 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings on its Web site.
The summit included talks by retirement savings experts and participation by dozens of statutory and appointed delegates, including members of Congress and representatives from consumer groups, employer groups and the financial services industry.
Participants in a group that generated ideas about ways to help workers nearing retirement proposed reducing current legal restrictions that limit companies’ ability to bundle products such as annuities and long term care insurance.
“This would allow the financial services industry to design unified plans that not only provide for retirement savings, but also cover the rapidly rising health costs that may threaten those savings,” according to the authors of the final summit report.
Members of the near-retiree group also proposed creating a “Retirement Income Security Plan.
The program would support workers who continue to work past age 65 by permitting them to phase in retirement income withdrawals, rather than requiring them make mandatory minimum withdrawals.
The gradually increasing “annuity income would thus supplement earned income, [individual retirement accounts], 401(k)s and Social Security during the early years of retirement and take on increasing importance as the other sources of income dwindle down,” the report authors write.
Members of a section that focused on the needs of low-income workers proposed encouraging workers to take retirement income in the form of lifetime annuities by taxing lifetime annuity and pension distributions at the capital gains rate, rather than at the higher rate imposed on ordinary income.
Advocates of this proposal suggested that the government should create new incentives to annuitize retirement benefits for retirees who earn too little to pay income taxes, the report authors write.
The low-income worker group also proposed excluding retirement savings accounts and 401(k) plan assets from eligibility requirements for food stamps and other welfare benefits.
A copy of the summit final report is on the Web at Document Link