Few things are more important to a secure and dignified retirement than Social Security. It plays a large role in the economic well-being of Latinos. According to the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, Latino and African American households have significantly less in retirement savings than white households, and about half of elderly Latinos receive more than 90 percent of their income from Social Security.
President Obama has pressed consistently to ensure that Latinos, and all Americans, recover from the lingering economic depression so that they can have a strong foundation for retirement. At the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, he pointed out in his remarks that every budget request submitted to Congress has included a proposal to automatically enroll workers without access to a workplace retirement plan in an IRA. Soon after that, the U.S. Department of the Treasury launched myRA, a simple, safe, and affordable new savings option for those who don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at work.
Regardless of the efforts of President Obama and others, the responsibility to save for retirement is on each of us. Social Security offers a basic level of protection, but it was never meant to be the only source of post-retirement income. Unfortunately, only 27 percent of Latinos between the ages of 21 and 63 participate in an employment-based retirement plan.
Our retirement security depends on us making a commitment to put money away, particularly at the beginning of our careers. A 25-year-old who begins saving $100 a month and earns five percent interest will have more than $150,000 at the age of 65.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, one of the things we can celebrate is the economic progress of Latinos in this country. The latest Census data states that in 2015 Latinos saw the fastest growth in median household income and access to health insurance coverage and the largest declines in poverty rates. To continue that progress, we must also think about how we create safe and secure retirements for ourselves and for our families. President Obama has said, “If you’ve worked hard all your life, you deserve a secure retirement.” Social Security does its part in securing your today and tomorrow, but this means we should do our part and take advantage of the opportunities that allow us to save to make sure we have a dignified retirement.