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Why Pensions Matter
Source: National Public Pension Coalition

Pensions, in the broadest sense of the term, have existed since ancient Rome. Soldiers in the
Roman army could earn pensions through their military service. The value of these pensions to Roman
soldiers helped to maintain the power of emperors such as Augustus. Pensions for military service have
continued to exist in one form or another in the two thousand years since.

Public pensions for teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other civilian public servants in the United
States are a more recent development. In fact, public pensions as we know them are just over one
hundred years old. Governments began offering pensions because they are the most effective and cost efficient
way for working families to prepare for retirement. Unfortunately, many people today have
forgotten the true value of pensions and why they are so important. This report will explore the history
of defined benefit public pensions in the United States, why they were implemented in the first place,
and why they continue to remain today.

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401(k) Lawsuits: What Are the Causes and Consequences?
Source: Center for Retirement Research

The brief’s key findings are:

  • Employers with 401(k)s are required to administer their plans for the “sole benefit” of workers, a standard that has been the subject of substantial litigation.
  • Recent lawsuits have focused on excessive fees, although inappropriate investment options and self-dealing are other common reasons for suits.
  • Court rulings in these cases often hinge on whether plan fiduciaries follow a “prudent” decisionmaking process, rather than on specific outcomes.
  • Perhaps in part to avoid such litigation, 401(k) sponsors have begun to rely more on low-cost index funds and have taken steps to reduce fees.
  • At the same time, concerns about litigation could dissuade 401(k) sponsors from offering potentially useful innovations, such as lifetime income options.

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Study: Police Officers & Firefighters Are More Likely to Die by Suicide than in Line of Duty
Source: Ruderman Family Foundation

 

A white paper commissioned by the Foundation has revealed that first responders (policemen and firefighters) are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. In 2017, there were at least 103 firefighter suicides and 140 police officer suicides. In contrast, 93 firefighters and 129 police officers died in the line of duty. Suicide is a result of mental illness, including depression and PTSD, which stems from constant exposure to death and destruction.

 

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Modernizing Social Security: An Overview
Source: Center for Retirement Research

The brief’s key findings are:

  • Many policy experts support targeted changes to Social Security benefits for vulnerable groups, such as caregivers, widows, the very old, and low earners
  • Several of these changes have been endorsed by bipartisan groups, which indicates the potential for widespread support.
  • Such changes, by themselves, would raise Social Security’s long-term deficit.
  • But if the cost increases were offset by reducing other benefits, Social Security could be modernized in a way that is both effective and cost-neutral.
  • Further briefs in this series will evaluate the policy options for specific groups in more detail, including potential offsets to cover the costs.
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