The energy and spirit of Tom Palome, who was profiled in the Sept. 29 Business section [“Not happening”], are admirable. But the reasons why his "six-figure salary" turned into “working two part-time jobs at age 77” are buried far down in the story. Though he has income from Social Security and a pension, Mr. Palome didn’t set up an individual retirement account (IRA) or take advantage of the tax-deferred savings plans that were available to him during his years as a consultant. Mr. Palome has no retirement assets because, regrettably, he didn’t plan for retirement.
Fortunately — and contrary to the theme of the article — his is not the typical case. Academic research shows that households approaching retirement generally are accumulating sufficient resources to maintain their standard of living after they retire. The majority of Americans approaching retirement (eight out of 10 households) has resources from employer plans or IRAs, with seven in 10 owning retirement assets.
The public understands this: In annual surveys since 2009, about three-quarters of all households have expressed confidence that defined-contribution plans such as 401(k)s can help savers meet their retirement goals. Today’s retirement system is working well for millions of Americans.
Paul Schott Stevens, Washington
The writer is president and chief executive of ICI, which advances the interests of mutual fund companies and their shareholders.