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Fail to Address Retirement Savings Crisis, Woefully Underfund Services to Help Older NYers Age in Own Homes and Support Family Caregivers

ALBANY, N.Y. – Although the new state budget is being touted as a boon to New York’s middle class, AARP says the 2017-18 spending plan fails to address two critical middle class issues: the growing retirement savings crisis and older New Yorkers’ ability to age in their own homes.

Over half of all private sector employees in New York – more than 3.5 million New Yorkers – lack access to a retirement savings plan at work such as a pension or 401(k).

But the new budget for the fiscal year that began April 1 does not include a state-facilitated workplace retirement savings option for those employees – an option supported by 82% of New York Generation Xers and Baby Boomers, two thirds of New York’s small businesses, and newspapers from Niagara Falls to Long Island.

And even though the Senate’s one-house budget proposal included an additional $5 million for services that support family caregivers in helping older New Yorkers age at home, and the Assembly’s one-house budget plan included an extra $2 million, the final budget adds just $875,000 – far short of the $25 million it would take to make serious inroads in reducing waiting lists for these services around the state.

AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel issued the following statement:

“Millions of New Yorkers lack access to the kind of effective workplace retirement savings plans previous generations took for granted, such as pensions and 401(k)s. Something must be done to make sure all New Yorkers can achieve a middle class retirement – and workers are 15 times likelier to save if they can do so on the job. But our state leaders are sitting on their hands.

“Five other states have already enacted effective workplace savings options, and 80% of New York small businesses think our state should act. What is New York waiting for?

“Our population is aging, and nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers want to age at home. It is inexplicable that the final budget includes just $875,000 for cost-effective services that help middle-class New Yorkers remain in their homes as they age, such as transportation to doctor’s appointments, home-delivered meals and assistance with daily activities – especially when the Senate and Assembly themselves had proposed adding $5 million and $2 million respectively.

“At least 17,000 New Yorkers are stuck on waiting lists for these services; $875,000 hardly makes a dent. This legitimate demand will continue growing, and these services represent the most compassionate and cost-effective way to care for our seniors. The alternative is much costlier, taxpayer-financed nursing homes.”

Background:

Helping New Yorkers Save for a Middle Class Retirement

Legislation known as Secure Choice would give employees who lack access to a workplace retirement savings plan the option to open a Roth IRA at work and contribute their own money through payroll deduction.

Secure Choice has nearly 100 sponsors from both parties in both houses. As an auto enrollment program, it is likely to result in up to 90% participation. Illinois, Oregon, California, Connecticut and Maryland have already enacted similar plans.

A recent AARP NY/Siena College poll found 82 percent of New York Generation Xers and Baby Boomers support a state-facilitated workplace retirement savings option for those who lack access. A separate AARP survey revealed support from 68 percent of the state’s small businesses – while 80 percent think state lawmakers should support a plan to make it easier for them to offer their employees a way to save for retirement.

The Governor himself last year acknowledged the widespread lack of access to retirement plans and called it a growing national crisis.

AARP will continue advocating for Secure Choice during the remainder of this year’s legislative session.

Supporting Middle Class Family Caregivers

Non-Medicaid in-home services for the elderly help middle class family caregivers avoid burnout and personal financial strain – which often lead to unwanted placements of their loved ones in much higher-priced institutional care settings at taxpayer expense.

Nearly 2.6 million family caregivers provide unpaid care worth $31.3 billion annually in New York and should be supported in their efforts. And as the number of potential 45- to 64-years-old caregivers for every New Yorker 80 or older dwindles, from 6.6 in 2010 to 3.5 in 2050, the need for in-home services will continue increasing.

Strong majorities of New York’s Generation Xers and Baby Boomers say those services would help them care for loved ones at home, according to an AARPNY/Siena College survey – which also showed 87% want themselves and their loved ones to receive care at home and just 2% would opt for a nursing home.

Contact: Erik Kriss, ekriss@aarp.org

Follow us on Twitter:  @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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