August 15, 2001

August 15, 2001 | WebMemo on Social Security

How Personal Retirement Accounts Create Wealth for Low and Moderate-Income Families

The President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security meets today in Washington to discuss how the program can be reformed for future generations. If Congress changes Social Security by allowing workers to invest a small portion of their payroll taxes in in their own Personal Retirement Accounts, their lives can be dramatically different.

A low-income single African American man who is 28 today will have an additional $19,000 at retirement (in inflation-adjusted 2001 dollars), which he could use to buy an annuity that would increase his retirement income by over $150 per month. This represents a full 15 percent increase in his retirement income under current law Social Security.

A 33 year old Hispanic couple earning a combined $37,000 this year could leave a substantial sum to their children through their Personal Retirement Account. If PRA reforms were enacted now, they could leave over $225,000 to their family when they die (which equals nearly $47,000 in inflation-adjusted 2001 dollars).

Finally, two 33 year old middle class teachers could send their grandchildren to an Ivy League college with their PRA funds when they die. They will amass over half a million dollars (or over $110,000 in today's dollars).

About the Author