According to an annual study by Mercer and the Australian Centre for Financial Studies, the United States retirement-income system has ranked 10th for two years running when examining factors like overall pension benefits, the likelihood that the system will be able to provide benefits in the future, and the integrity of private retirement plans.

Robert Powell, editor of Retirement Weekly, writes in a column for MarketWatch that the Mercer Melbourne researchers offered five ways that the U.S. system could rise beyond its 10th-place rating on the index:

1. Raise the minimum pension for low-income beneficiaries.
2. Adjust the level of mandatory contributions.
3. Improve vesting benefits.
4. Reduce plan leakage pre-retirement leakage by further limiting the access to funds
5. Introduce a requirement that part of the retirement benefit must be taken as an income stream.
 
These certainly aren’t groundbreaking ideas, and the researchers’ advice basically boils down to: Make people save more over a longer period of time and make sure they don’t go on a spending blitz during the accumulation phase or the distribution phase.

All well and good, researchers. But to my eye, employers have tried those things and then some  — all to little avail.

Personally, I’m ready to throw my hands up at the entire problem. What do you think? What would be your recommendations for rescuing retirement in the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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