Solutions for retirement issues

SANDUSKY If company pensions decline and Social Security payouts shrink, how can retirees fund their
May 24, 2010



If company pensions decline and Social Security payouts shrink, how can retirees fund their future?

And if they have to make do with less, what can they cut from their budget?

The video of the entire Solutions forum will be available later this afternoon.

A panel of financial advisers and local experts answered thosequestions and others Tuesday night at the Register's Solutions town hall seminar -- the second of six sessions designed to offer advice in challenging times.

Several questions concerned what would happen to workers' pensions if General Motors or another automaker goes bankrupt.

"I think that the majority ofpeople's pensions will beprotected," said Brett Kinzel, a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch.

The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. protects the pensions of 44 million workers, but often the arrangements provide retirees less than they expected -- sometimes up to 60 percent less.

Kinzel said he thinks because of the economic and political climate, the government would try to ensure autoworkers receive as much of their pensions aspossible.

The panelists stressed, however, that no one knows how the recession will play out.

One thing is certain -- workers will have to take more responsibility for their retirement savings.

Not only are guaranteed pensions becoming rarer, UBS vice president for investments Brian Allen said, many employers no longer match 401(k) contributions.

"We're going to be more and more on our own," he said.

Another certainty is at some point -- after the Baby Boomers retire and there are fewer workers to replace them -- Social Security will start paying out more than it takes in.

To maintain the system, changes will have to happen.

"I'm 43," Kinzel said, "and if you're younger than me, there's a chance that your benefits could be reduced or your taxes could be increased."

The best way to ensure financial security in retirement, said George Steinemann, senior vice president of Citizens Wealth Management, is to work longer in order to save more.

In more immediate terms, there are many retirees and working people having trouble making ends meet as prices for necessities increase.

Serving Our Seniors executive director Sue Daugherty said the first step to resolving that problem is to figure out where your money is going.

"...Look at the things you can do to live and get by with less," she said. "It's the first thing, and it's the unpleasant thing because you might have to go without the cable, without the cell phone and all these things we've become accustomed to."

If that's not enough, public assistance may be available.

More information on how to take advantage of such assistance will be available at the next Solutions forum, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sandusky State Theatre.