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Latin Post: Latinos & Social Security: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members Call for Better Retirement Plans

Sep 30, 2015
In The News

A coalition of national Latino organizations is campaigning to expand pension access for more millions of Latinos working on their retirement plan, and Latino lawmakers are helping engage the debate.

The Latinos for a Secure Retirement's (LSR) summit in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday featured Latino leaders and retirement experts examining the ways to increase access to retirement plans. As LSR noted, despite being one of the fastest growing populations in the U.S., Latinos are less likely to have workplace retirement plans than white Americans, and, as a result, will become "increasingly reliant on modest Social Security."

According to the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), Latinos have a higher life expectancy at age 65 compared to the rest of the population. As the AARP recognized, Latino retirees rely on monthly Social Security checks, and it may be their main source of retirement income. Among Latino males ages 65 and older, the average annual Social Security income was $14,148 in 2013, higher compared to $10,931 for Latinas.

"A secure, comfortable retirement is every worker's dream. And because we're living longer, healthier lives now, we can expect to spend more time in retirement than our parents and 'abuelos' did," SSAnoted. "Achieving that dream is much easier when you plan your finances."

At the fourth annual Retirement Empowerment Summit at the Rayburn House Office Building, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) spoke about Latinos' need to plan a secure retirement.

CHC Chairwoman Linda Sanchez, representative for California's 38th Congressional District, was the keynote speaker at the summit, and recognized that Latinos tend to talk about what they want to do during retirement but not about how to achieve it. Sanchez shared the story about her grandmother, living with $484 a month through Social Security. Sanchez's grandmother had earned minimum wage, thus could not save money for retirement.

"First, we need to start educating our children about the pitfalls of not saving for retirement. And second, we need to protect retirement programs from being compromised," said Sanchez, noting Latinos will comprise 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, which equates to over 100 million people.

"Yet, four out of five Latino households have less than $10,000 in retirement savings," said Sanchez. "In fact, seven in 10 Latinos do not have enough savings to cover three months of living expenses. When you think about it, that's scary. Our community works so hard to achieve the American Dream. But we don't always think about the need to prepare for retirement security."

Sanchez said there is a need to ensure the next generation is prepared for retirement, noting it is as important as immigration reform and voting rights.

As the only Latina in the House Ways and Means Committee, Sanchez has worked on improving financial security for all working families, including Latinos. She introduced the "Strengthen Social Security Act" (H.R. 3118) in 2013 and is among the original co-sponsors of the "One Social Security Act" (H.R. 3150), introduced by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, representative for California's 34th Congressional District -- who also addressed the summit attendees on Wednesday.

Fellow CHC members Raúl Grijlava and Ruben Gallego of Arizona; Grace Napolitano, Norma Torres and Tony Cardenas of California; and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico also engaged in the Retirement Empowerment Summit.