March 11, 2005

    A policy seminar on Friday, March 11, 2005.

    Holeman Lounge ~ National Press Club ~ 14th and F Streets NW ~ Washington DC

    A Primer on Life Annuities: Choices and Tradeoffs
    Virginia P. Reno, Vice President for Income Security Policy, NASI

    Annuity Protections for Widows: Mandates, Choices and Tradeoffs
    Karen C. Holden, Professor of Public Affairs and Consumer Science, University of Wisconsin

    Martha Priddy Patterson, Director of Employee Benefits Policy, Deloitte Consulting LLP
    Paul J. Yakoboski, Principal Research Fellow, TIAA-CREF Institute

    Joni Lavery, Income Security Research Associate, NASI

    The personal accounts proposed by President Bush would require workers to convert at least part of their accounts into annuities at retirement. An annuity is a contract with an insurance company. The buyer pays a lump sum of money to the insurer and the insurer pays the buyer a monthly income for as long as he or she lives.

    The seminar will examine how annuities might work if personal accounts were to become part of Social Security by drawing on the work of a non-partisan, expert Study Panel convened by NASI. Among the issues to be discussed are: What risks do retirees face? How do annuities meet those risks? How might annuities affect bequests for heirs? What are annuity guarantees and how might they work? How big might annuities be under various assumptions? How can annuities protect widowed spouses and at what cost? Should spousal protection be voluntary or mandatory? Who owns the annuity if a couple gets divorced? What choices might retirees face about when to buy an annuity and what kind to buy?

    Discussants will draw on experience with private retirement benefits, annuities and current retiree annuitization decisions to provide insights about what might be expected if millions of workers are required to or encouraged to annuitize their Social Security individual account.

    Come prepared to hear facts and findings and to ask your questions and share your views on the policy decisions ahead.

    Mark your calendars for future Friday morning Social Security seminars on March 25, April 15, April 29, and May 13, featuring such topics as:
    · Is Social Security Affordable? Sharing Economic Gains
    · Paying Disability and Life Insurance through Individual Accounts: Policy Issues and Options
    · Who Would Provide, Regulate, and Guaranty Solvency of Annuity Providers?
    · Social Security Disability and Survivor Benefits for Soldiers and Contract Workers.

    Karen Holden is a Professor of Public Affairs at the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs and Professor of Consumer Science, both at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches household risk management and program evaluation methods. She served in the NASI expert panel on Uncharted Waters: Paying Benefits from Individual Accounts in Federal Retirement Policy. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Institute on Aging and the Steering Committee of the Center for Demography and Ecology. She also has been a Visiting Economist at the Office of Research and Statistics in the Social Security Administration. Ms. Holden’s research focuses on social and private insurance issues and on public policy issues relating to the economic welfare of the elderly, especially widows. She has also published in the area of disability. A founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, she received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

    Joni Lavery is the Income Security Research Associate at the National Academy of Social Insurance where she made a major contribution to the recently completed Study Panel report, Uncharted Waters: Paying Benefits from Individual Accounts in Federal Retirement Policy. Her current responsibilities include Social Security policy education activities at NASI and a project on Older and Out of Work, which focuses on issues affecting older adults who lose their jobs. Prior to joining NASI, Ms. Lavery was a Presidential Management Fellow, based in the Social Security Administration’s Office of Retirement Policy, where she was a social science research analyst and examined implementation issues in Social Security reform. As a Fellow, she also worked in a Social Security field office and served as a Health and Social Policy Legislative Fellow in the Office of United States Senator Debbie Stabenow. Ms. Lavery earned her Masters degree in Social Work from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where she focused her academic work on income security and social policies affecting older adults. She also served as a senior research assistant with the University’s Center for Mental Health Services Research.

    Martha Priddy Patterson is Director of Employee Benefits Policy Analysis for Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital Advisory Services. She is an attorney and employee benefit consultant with years of experience in employees’ retirement, health, and welfare benefits. Previously, Ms. Patterson was Director of Employee Benefits Policy and Analysis at KPMG Compensation & Benefits. Prior to that, she served as Principal at William M. Mercer. She also was Director of Tax Policy Development for Time, Inc., Partner at O’Connor and Hannan, Associate at Casey, Lane & Mittendorf, and Legislative Director for Congressman Bob Eckhardt. She has authored or co-authored numerous articles including HIPAA Privacy Regulations: An Overview for Employers; Retirement Benefits in the 1990s: 1998 Survey Report; Social Security-What to Do While Waiting for a Cure; Medicare Changes Affect Employers’ Health Plans; and The New Working Woman’s Guide to Retirement Planning. Ms. Priddy Patterson was a co-chair for NASI’s 2003 Strengthening Community: Social Insurance in a Diverse America conference. A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2000, Ms. Patterson received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.

    Virginia Reno is Vice President for Income Security Policy at the National Academy of Social Insurance. She directs and conducts NASI’s research and public education agenda for social security, disability policy, and workers’ compensation. NASI studies she has directed include: Uncharted Waters: Paying Benefits from Individual Savings Accounts in Federal Retirement Policy (2005), Health and Income Security for an Aging Workforce (2003), Evaluating Issues in Privatizing Social Security (1998), and Balancing Security and Opportunity: The Challenge of Disability Income Policy (1996). Before coming to NASI, Ms. Reno held research and policy positions at the U. S. Social Security Administration. Ms. Reno has published articles on Social Security, private pensions, retirement policy, public opinion about Social Security, the income of the elderly, labor force participation of women, and the treatment of women and families in benefit and tax systems. Reno, a founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, served in the U. S. Peace Corps and received her B.A. from the Honors College of the University of Oregon.

    Paul J. Yakoboski is a Principal Research Fellow with the TIAA-CREF Institute. In addition to his research responsibilities, he serves as director of the Institute’s Fellows Program and is editor of Policy Briefs. Yakoboski conducts research on issues related to retirement income security, including saving and planning for retirement and funding retiree health insurance. Prior to joining the Institute, he held positions as Director of Research for the American Council of Life Insurers, Senior Research Associate with the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Senior Economist with the U.S. General Accounting Office. He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and the American Economic Association, and has served as Director of Research for the American Savings Education Council. He received his Ph.D. (1990) and M.A. (1987) in economics from the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) and his B.S. (1984) in economics from Virginia Tech.