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What You Need to Know About the Secure Choice Program

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Secure Choice is a workplace retirement savings option that could help millions of working New Yorkers save for their futures on the job through portable, payroll-deduction Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). The program was enacted into law as part of the 2018-19 New York State Budget and is still in the process of being implemented.

Secure Choice will provide a convenient and effective way for people to save at work - and continue saving even if they change jobs.

What is the “Secure Choice Savings Program”? A new workplace retirement savings program to help working New Yorkers save for their future – and choose how they live as they age. The New York State Legislature passed a bill in 2021 to require that private companies and not-for-profit organizations which employ at least 10 people and don’t currently provide a workplace retirement savings option offer their employees Secure Choice, and to automatically enroll workers in state-facilitated Secure Choice IRAs unless workers opt out.

The bill will be sent to the Governor, who can sign it into law or veto it.

You can help us urge the Governor to sign the bill by going here.

The program, to be overseen by the State, will be professionally managed by one or more private investment firms. It will offer businesses a convenient, low-cost tool to attract and retain employees and provide workers with an easy and effective way to save - and to continue saving if they change jobs because their IRA will be portable.

The New York Council also passed, and the Mayor signed into law in 2021, a similar Secure Choice program. But it will go into effect only if the Governor vetoes the State bill; if the Governor signs the State legislation into law, the State program will supersede the City’s.

What does the program mean for New Yorkers?  The chance for potentially millions of New Yorkers who work for private companies or private not-for-profit organizations to save through payroll-deduction – the easiest and most effective way to save. Over half of private sector workers in New York State – more than 3.5 million working New Yorkers - have no access to a retirement savings plan at work, which creates a significant barrier toward saving for the future. Over two-thirds of Hispanic New Yorkers working in the private sector lack such access, as do more than 60 percent of Asian Americans and 52 percent of African Americans. Americans are 15 times likelier to save if they can do so at work – 20 times more likely if they can do so through automatic payroll-deduction, which typically results in a 90 percent participation rate.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York state Legislature showed vision in proposing and enacting this game-changing program, which will help correct disparities in New Yorkers’ retirement savings – especially within communities of color (see pages 7-15 here for the language of the original Secure Choice law, and here for this year’s legislation to strengthen the program). When will the program be available? Secure Choice is scheduled to take effect in 2022. The law requires the State to create an oversight board to develop rules and regulations for the program. For more information about retirement savings and tools, visit www.aarp.org/money

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