ORLANDO -- Improving access to lifetime income options is key to solving the retirement crisis.
There are other things that can be done as well, but access is the key, said Mark Shemtob, owner of Abar Retirement Plan Services.
"How do regular people get access to the advice, ideas and solutions they need?" he asked. "What do we do if we don't want them to become wards of the state?"
Shemtob was part of a panel that addressed lifetime income challenges Thursday during the LIMRA 2017 Retirement Conference.
One issue is that defined contribution plan sponsors do not want to offer income options because it means more administrative costs and greater fiduciary exposure, Shemtob said.
"Employers are not going to step up, unless the Department of Labor makes it easy for them to step up," he added. "Even if employers stepped it up, guess what? We still have a big hole."
A second problem is long-term care. How are seniors going to be protected against the potential of financially crippling health care bills?
"I always say long-term care is the best gift you can give your kids," Shemtob said. "Because they don't have to worry about it."
A third significant issue is Social Security. It needs to be modernized, the age limit raised, and automatic adjustments built in, Shemtob said. And raising the age limit should not be as politically sensitive as it seems to be, he added.
"When I speak to young people about it, they say 'Sure, why not?' Because they think they're not getting much anyway," he said. "So there's really not that much objection."
Consumers need to do their part as well, Shemtob said. Why do people retire at age 65? That number came to be the standard when people barely lived to see age 70.
Maybe a phased retirement is the answer, Shemtob said.
"It is incredibly unhealthy to go from working 40 hours a week to zero hours," he said.
Other ideas, such as reverse mortgages, have promise, Shemtob said. After all, experts say the U.S. retirement savings deficit is between $6.8 and $14 trillion.
"We need creative solutions," he said.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at email@example.com.
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