Research That Matters Today

The Stanford Center on Longevity has released a series of four essays written by research scholar Steve Vernon. These essays outline how defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors can help older workers use their retirement savings to generate reliable, lifetime retirement income.

“Most 401(k) plans don’t offer much help to pre-retirees to turn their hard-earned savings into retirement income,” says Vernon. “If older workers had a simple, “check the box” option for converting their 401(k) savings into lifetime income, then DC savings plans could evolve into true retirement plans.”

The essays describe how plan sponsors can enable this evolution, as follows:

    1. The 5 Most Important Retirement Income Decisions
    2. DC Retirement Plan Sponsors Can Help Improve Critical Retirement Income Decisions
    3. Consider a Default Decision Process for Retirement Income Options in DC Retirement Plans
    4. Retirement Income Statements That Educate and Don’t Dangerously Mislead

The second, third, and fourth essays discuss in more detail how DC plan sponsors, financial institutions, and retirement professionals can help pre-retirees make the decisions described in the first essay.

The essay series draws from research conducted at the Stanford Center on Longevity, in collaboration with the Society of Actuaries.

“Prior generations of middle-income workers may have relied on traditional pension plans, but those plans are no longer prevalent today,” says Vernon. “Our work aims to help middle-income workers who instead will rely on Social Security benefits and savings. 401(k) plan sponsors are in the perfect position to help their older workers make and implement critical retirement planning decisions.”