Savings & Access

Please see below recent CRI work, media mentions and additional resources on the topic of retirement savings and access.

CRI Publications

State-Facilitated Retirement Savings Programs: A Policymaker’s Guide to ERISA and the Tax Code for IRAs and 401(k)s (Policy Report 21-02, March 2021)

This paper provides policymakers with a primer about ERISA and the Tax Code, how these federal laws and their regulations pertain to IRAs and 401(k)s, and what this means for state-facilitated retirement savings programs. After reviewing the question of ERISA applicability to state auto-IRAs and an overview of the federal Tax Code and IRA rules, it explores how ERISA and the Tax Code rules apply to 401(k)s, including the new rules allowing states (and others) to possibly lower 401(k) costs by sponsoring group 401(k)MEPs and PEPs.

State Benefits of Expanding Access to Retirement Savings (Policy Report 21-01, February 2021) | See State-by-State Interactive Map

This report provides state-level analysis of the benefits of expanding worker access to save for retirement through state-facilitated auto-IRA programs. This report follows CRI’s earlier research on the potential benefits of national universal access to retirement savings options for U.S. workers (See Policy Report 20-02). Included in the analysis are 51 state (and DC) fact sheets that provides information on key state specific metrics including demographic trends related to the  aging of the population, the size of the retirement savings access gap, the projected growth in savings with an auto-IRA program, and the economic and fiscal benefits to the state of adding new savers.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Universal Access to Retirement Savings? An Analysis of National Options to Expand Coverage (Policy Report 20-02, December 2020) | Methodology Appendix

This report analyzes the potential benefits of national universal access to retirement savings options for U.S. workers. It examines how characteristics such as account type (payroll deduction IRA vs. 401(k)), the employers required to participate, and default levels of employee contributions and any employer contributions will drive access, savings, asset growth, and retirement income over time. The economic and fiscal benefits of a national approach to the universal access is enormous, contributing to significant growth in GDP and reduced federal and state spending on benefit programs for the elderly. This report draws from the experience of other countries and from the early state-facilitated retirement programs in the U.S. to make the case that universal access to retirement savings options can be achieved in a simple, cost-effective manner with private market providers ready to compete to offer options for workers.

State-Facilitated Retirement Savings Programs: A Snapshot of Plan Design Features (21-02, May 15, 2021 UPDATE)

This document provides summary information, grouped by plan design model, about the features of the current 15 state-facilitated retirement savings programs (13 states and 2 cities), including the new Virginia and New York City programs.

A Guide to State-Facilitated Retirement Program Features February 29, 2020 UPDATE) – Supporter Access Only
This comparison chart provides a more detailed summary of the features of the current 12 state-facilitated retirement savings programs (11 states and 1 city).

Achieving Economics of Scale in State-Facilitated Retirement Savings Programs: The Case for Multi-State Collaboration (Policy Report 19-01, May 2019)

This final report updates and replaces CRI Working Paper 18-02, published in June 2018. This report outlines several models, based on a multi-state or regional approach, that should be explored for how states can work together to serve more than one state. Although individual states can establish their own state-sponsored retirement savings programs, the consideration of interstate arrangements offers opportunities for states to explore how they can achieve economies of scale to help minimize costs while significantly expanding access to retirement savings options.

2018 Policy Innovation Forum Report: Driving Change to Improve Retirement Outcomes (CRI Policy Forum Report)

On June 19, 2018, the Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives (CRI) convened an invitation-only one-day policy forum with approximately 100 senior industry leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders to examine some of the key challenges designing a retirement savings system focused on improving long-term outcomes to strengthen retirement security for millions of Americans. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the discussion held during this event, covering innovative ideas and proposals for addressing some of the challenges faced in closing the access gap, improving the design and performance of investments in retirement savings plans, and identifying ways to build and deliver more-effective and attractive lifetime income options.

PaperMultiple Employer Plans (MEPs): An Overview of Legal, Regulatory and Plan Design Considerations for States (Policy Report, 17-02, August 2017)

This report provides an overview of how ERISA and the Tax Code, as well as securities and other laws, would apply to a state-facilitated MEP and includes sample model legislation.

vermontpolicyreportPublic Retirement Plan Options for Private Sector Employees/ Employers: A CRI Report to the VT Public Retirement Study Committee (Policy Report, 17-01, January 2017)

This report provides an overview of the retirement security challenges facing the nation and Vermont; outlines the range of plan design options for state-sponsored retirement programs for private sector employers and employees, including legal, regulatory, and plan design considerations; and reviews some early lessons learned from other states that are in various stages of implementing new programs.

PaperState Initiatives: How Federal Laws Apply to Plan Design Features (Policy Report, 14-01, December 2014)

As states contemplate ways to help expand the availability and effectiveness of private sector retirement savings options, they must understand how ERISA and other federal laws would apply to any new program for the private sector.

Publicly Sponsored Private Retirement Programs: A Comparison of Plan Design Options and Features (Policy Brief, 18-01, August 2018)

This policy brief updates an earlier 2016 Policy Brief and compares the legal and design characteristics of different state-sponsored retirement saving programs, including the Payroll Deduction IRA, Multiple Employer Plan (MEPs), Master and Prototype (Prototype), and Marketplace.

Facts and Fallacy About State Retirement Savings Plans (Policy Brief, 17-01, February 2017)

More states are considering the creation of state-facilitated retirement savings plans, but there is considerable misinformation about the different issues and programs.  This brief reviews some of the fallacies and some of the facts behind state-facilitated retirement savings plans.

Lessons from California, Connecticut, and Oregon: How Plan Design Considerations Shape the Financial Feasibility of State Auto-IRAs (16-03)

As a growing number of states move toward establishing retirement savings plans for private sector workers who lack access to an employer sponsored plan, policymakers and stakeholders are very interested in plan cost. States should be encouraged by findings from the financial feasibility studies conducted on state sponsored retirement plans in California, Connecticut, and Oregon. This policy brief describes the lessons that were learned from California, Connecticut and Oregon, and sheds insight into retirement saving program design construction and program structure.

529 College Savings Plans: Lessons for Publicly Sponsored Private Retirement Plans (Policy Brief, 16-02, November 2016)

529 college savings plans have accumulated $266.2 billion across more than 12.7 million accounts. This policy brief looks at the lessons learned from the implementation of state-sponsored college savings plans and discusses some parallels for state-sponsored retirement saving plans.

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