Reports of the inadequacy of retirement savings, which have dominated the news media, are inaccurate, say Social Security experts Andrew Biggs and Sylvester Schieber.
Biggs, a former principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Schieber, a former chairman of the Social Security Advisory Board, is an independent pension consultant.
Some studies claim that 53 percent to 84 percent of Americans will have face income shortages in retirement, they note in The Wall Street Journal
"These statistics are vast overstatements, generated by methods that range from flawed to bogus," Biggs and Schiber write.
"Changing policy based on these fanciful claims would threaten government budgets, not to mention the income security of future American retirees."
A 2013 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) compared retirees' income with the average income in its member countries.
Income for the average U.S. retiree totaled 92 percent of the average American income, compared with 81 percent for Scandinavian countries, 85 percent for Germany and 77 percent for Belgium.
"America's retirement incomes are 53 percent above the OECD average, second highest in the world," Biggs and Schiber note.
They admit that Social Security needs reform, "both to ensure solvency and to better serve low-income retirees."
"And we should improve access to and the use of private saving plans. But the retirement crisis narrative will lead the country down the wrong policy path."
Still, Americans are concerned about their retirement finances.
A new Wells Fargo/Gallup survey
of investors shows that 46 percent are very or somewhat worried about outliving their savings, including 50 percent of non-retirees and 36 percent of retirees.
Social Security represents a major area of angst.
"Clearly Social Security plays a key role in thinking about retirement income, and concerns about the government’s ability to address the system’s financial problems exist for both retirees and non-retirees," says Karen Wimbish, director of retail retirement at Wells Fargo.
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