The dream of a comfortable retirement is slipping away from millions of middle-class Americans. Company pensions are a thing of the past, and the recession has decimated the nest eggs -- primarily 401(k) plans and family homes -- of many baby boomers.
A new poll concludes that most Americans are not planning for their golden years at all. Many are ill-informed about what Medicare covers, the cost of nursing home care and other key retirement issues.
Last month, a House panel held a hearing on retirement security. Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, testified that Americans were poorly prepared for retirement even before the recession began.
The center said 44 percent of Americans in 2006 were "at risk" of having insufficient income for retirement. Members of the "greatest generation" were, by contrast, quite well prepared for retirement. But then they were much better off financially.
Changing the inflation index of Social Security to reduce its cost is justifiable in the context of budget reform and deficit reduction. But the integrity of the program must be protected. For many Americans, it may be all that's left to rely on in the twilight of life.