President Obama Makes Good on Promise to Help Americans Save for Retirement

On January 28, 2014, in his State of the Union address, President Obama challenged Congress to work with him in his effort to help Americans create a secure retirement, pointing out that “most workers don’t have a pension and a social security check isn’t enough on its own.”

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He also announced that the next day he was going to direct the Treasury to create a new way for “working Americans to start their own retirement savings,” and create a retirement savings vehicle called a myRA. Today that promise became a reality.  After a pilot of the program, which began last December, the Treasury announced the national launch of the myRA.

According to AARP, about 55 million Americans don’t have access to retirement accounts.  In addition, a report by the National Institute on Retirement Savings found that the average near-retirement household had only $12,000 in retirement savings.

myRA is designed to remove common barriers to saving, and give people an easy way to get started,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “myRA has no fees, no risk of losing money and no minimum balance or contribution requirements. To make saving easier than ever, you can now put savings into myRA directly from your bank account.”

The Treasury Department calls myRA a good option for people who don’t have access to a retirement savings account at work or those who want to save but haven’t found an easy way to get started.  In order to qualify you must have an annual income of less than $131,000 if you’re single, and $193,000 if you’re married and file joint tax returns. It costs nothing to open an account, as there are no fees and no minimum contributions.

In addition, you can’t lose money because the investment is backed by U.S. Government. The account earns interest at the same variable rate as investments in the Government Securities Fund for federal employees, which returned 2.31% in 2014 and 3.19% over the ten-year period that ended December 2014.

Treasury Secretary Lew acknowledged that the accounts are not a magic bullet that will solve the retirement savings problem the country is facing.

myRA can give people confidence that they’re taking steps in the right direction, and it can serve as a bridge to other savings options that will carry them the rest of the way,” said Lew. myRA alone will not solve the nation’s retirement savings gap, but it will be an important stepping stone for encouraging and creating a nation of savers.”

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