May 25, 2022

Young, Booker Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Americans Build Savings for the Future

WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced theEmergency Savings Act of 2022 to help Americans save for unexpected expenses without having to tap into their retirement accounts. The bill would facilitate convenient and affordable access to workplace emergency savings accounts, improving financial security and reducing retirement savings leakage. 

According to a report by the Federal Reserve, almost half of Americans would struggle to cover an unexpected $400 expense. A recent study found that, in the past year, almost 60 percent of retirement account participants who lack emergency savings tapped into their long-term retirement savings, compared to only nine percent of those who had at least a month of emergency savings on hand.

The Emergency Savings Account Act of 2022 builds upon work by Senators Young and Booker to develop this concept over the last several years, including the Strengthening Financial Security Through Short-Term Savings Accounts Act of 2021.

“We can’t always predict the future, and too many Hoosier families encounter situations where they struggle to cover unexpected expenses through no fault of their own. Unfortunately, this can cause families to dip into their retirement savings, which harms their financial future. Our bipartisan bill would help families create stable emergency savings for unforeseen expenses, while keeping retirement accounts intact for the future,” said Senator Young.

“We know that many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, and that even a small, unexpected expense or emergency can send families into a financial spiral that puts them even further behind. At the same time, for many of these workers, retirement is becoming out of reach,” said Senator Booker. “I’m proud to work with Senator Young to address these savings crises by creating opportunities for workers to build savings for short-term, unexpected costs while also putting them on a pathway for a more financially secure retirement. Building on our past work, this bill will allow employers to offer workplace savings accounts that will make it easier to save, promote financial stability, and help workers build their retirement funds.”

Separating emergency savings from one’s retirement savings account will provide participants a better understanding that one account is for short-term emergency needs and the other is for long-term retirement savings, thus empowering employees to handle unexpected financial shocks without jeopardizing their long-term financial security in retirement through emergency hardship withdrawals.

What they are saying about the Emergency Savings Act of 2022:

Jason Fichtner, Vice President and Chief Economist of the Bipartisan Policy Center said,“Employers have a vested interest in improving their workers’ financial resiliency. Near the top of the list should be helping workers better respond to unplanned expenses so that they can avoid prematurely raiding their retirement savings or pursuing high-cost credit alternatives. Legislation that would make it easier for employers to offer employees automatic, short-term savings vehicles in a manner similar to their 401(k)s is a positive step forward.”

Lynn Dudley, Senior Vice President of Global Retirement and Compensation Policy for the American Benefits Council said, “[T]hank you [Senators Booker and Young] for your leadership with respect to emergency savings and the introduction of the Emergency Savings Act of 2022. This bill reflects your commitment to good bipartisan retirement policy and responds to a critical need for financial protection in cases of unexpected expenses that often present real challenges for many American workers and their families.”

Andrew Banducci, Senior Vice President of the Retirement and Compensation Policy with the ERISA Industry Committee said, “The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) applauds the introduction of the Emergency Savings Act of 2022 and your leadership in addressing critical retirement and savings needs. On behalf of our large employer membership, we look forward to working with you to promote retirement security, emergency savings, and holistic financial wellness for employees, retirees, and their families.”

Chantel Sheaks, Vice President, Retirement Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said,“The fact that nearly 50 percent of Americans would have difficulty paying for a $400 emergency shows that something must be done to help Americans with emergencies savings.  Employers recognize the stress that this can cause for their employees, and that is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the Senate’s efforts to come up with emergency savings solutions, including side car accounts to a 401(k) plan which is in the ‘Emergency Savings Act of 2022’. . . . Given the diversity of the American workforce, employers will need as many options as possible to help alleviate this stress on workers.”

Andrew Lautz, Director of Federal Policy for the National Taxpayers Union said, “Too many Americans are left unprepared when facing a wide variety of expensive emergencies. The Emergency Savings Act from Senators Young and Booker would take a meaningful and thoughtful step in addressing this issue. The bill would allow employers to offer an emergency savings account option to their employees, and would incentivize workers to save up to $2,500 into those accounts with the possibility of an employer match into retirement savings. NTU encourages Congress to support the Emergency Savings Act, and we ask lawmakers to continue building on this effort with additional solutions that unleash the ability of employers, workers, and the entire financial sector to provide for emergency savings.”

Susan K. Neely, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Council of Life Insurers said, “ACLI applauds your commitment toward solutions to help the many American families that lack short-term emergency savings. The Emergency Savings Act of 2022 seeks to address this critical savings need. . . . Thank you for your leadership and bipartisanship on The Emergency Savings Act of 2022. We look forward to our continued collaboration on helping American families address emergency savings.”

Andrew Biggs, Senior Fellow of American Enterprise Institute said, “Establishing rainy-day savings not only helps stabilize household finances against unexpected expenses, but in doing so also protects retirement savings from being drawn down to cover these costs. Automatic enrollment in an emergency savings account is the easiest way to provide these protections.”

Doug Ryan, Vice President of Prosperity Now said, “A longstanding component of our work has been emergency savings programs to help families weather income loss and unexpected expenses. We are writing today to express our support for the Emergency Savings Act of 2022, which the Committee will begin considering soon. We support the bill’s passage.”

Eric Stevenson, President of Nationwide Retirement Solutions said, “Nationwide believes this legislation will give plan sponsors a useful tool to help retirement savers prepare for both long-term and short-term savings needs. . . . Your legislation provides employers with the opportunity to encourage saving for an emergency, alongside saving for retirement – all within a system that the plan participants know and trust.”

Lawrence Holzberg, President of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors said, “The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) is pleased to support your recently introduced legislation, S.4310, the Emergency Savings Act of 2022. We applaud you for your ongoing work in trying to perfect the concept of an addition of an emergency savings account feature to defined contribution retirement plans. . . . In separating emergency savings from retirement savings, we believe your bill would limit retirement account leakage while enhancing participation in retirement plans.”

John J. Kalamarides, CEO of Bear North LLC said, “I applaud the introduction of the ‘Emergency Savings Act of 2022’ and support the bill’s passage. . . . I’ve learned the best emergency savings programs are automatic, principal-preserving, affordable, and allow periodic withdrawals without hassle or penalty. Workplace-based solutions, like the ‘Emergency Savings Act of 2022’, that apply these principles will have a dramatic impact on the 53 percent of families with no liquid emergency savings or less than a month of income saved for emergencies.”

Carl Gagnon, Assistant Vice President, Global Financial Well-Being & Retirement Programs at Unum said,“Our company shares the belief that when employees increase savings, they are more financially secure, less stressed, and more productive. Unum recently (January 2022) launched a voluntary emergency savings program by adding a post-tax savings source to its existing 401k plan. . . . [O]nly a few months into its existence, [the program] has been a success. . . . This supports the notion that when offered a traditional and well-accepted vehicle, employees will save for a rainy day.”

Ida S. Rademacher, Vice President of The Aspen Institute and Executive Director of The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program said,“The Emergency Savings Act of 2022, introduced by Senators Cory Booker and Todd Young, will help address financial wellbeing by allowing employers to offer workers automatic enrollment into retirement-linked emergency savings accounts, which research shows is a best practice for increasing participation in emergency savings. This is an important innovation in savings that researchers on emergency and retirement savings have championed for years.”

Eric J. Pan, President & CEO of the Investment Company Institute said,“[The emergency savings provision in the RISE & SHINE Act] recognize[s] the importance of encouraging workers to save for emergencies by providing employers the option to allow for emergency savings accounts within a defined contribution retirement plan.”

Dale E. Brown, President & CEO of the Financial Services Institute said,“The Emergency Savings Act would help workers prepare for future unexpected expenses without jeopardizing their long-term retirement savings. We are encouraged that the [Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions] Committee has taken a bipartisan approach to retirement security legislation by including the Emergency Savings Act in the Retirement Improvement and Savings Enhancement to Supplement Healthy Investments for the Nest Egg (RISE & SHINE) Act, and we urge Congress to move these crucial pieces of legislation forward.”

Timothy Flacke, Executive Director at Commonwealth said, “We know from our work with households living on low and moderate incomes – who in the US are disproportionately Black, Latin and/or women – that emergency savings is critical for retirement security. Our research with these households in the first year of the pandemic found that respondents with significant emergency savings were half as likely to have tapped their retirement savings. We applaud Senators Young and Booker for prioritizing this important issue and seeking to give employers new options to support both their workers emergency savings goals and retirement security.”

Jeff Cimini, SVP, Retirement Product Management for Voya Financial said, “We know that a lack of emergency fund savings puts retirement at risk. We’ve found from our own retirement plan participant data that individuals without adequate emergency savings are 13 times more likely to take a hardship withdrawal from their retirement account. And those with inadequate savings are 30% more likely to reduce their plan contributions. So, it’s clear that the need for emergency savings is inextricably linked to positive retirement outcomes. We are strongly encouraged that ensuring all Americans have the resources they need for a successful retirement remains a priority among lawmakers, and fully support Senators Young and Booker for prioritizing the emergency savings needs of individuals. At Voya, we remain in favor of programs that can help increase opportunities for greater retirement savings and ultimately help to improve the overall financial wellbeing of all Americans.”

Erica York, Senior Economist, and Garret Watson, Senior Policy Analyst, at the Tax Foundation said, “[T]he Emergency Savings Act of 2022, offered by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Todd Young (R-IN), [ ] would give employers the option of establishing workplace emergency savings accounts for employees of up to $2,500 in contributions. . . . Emergency savings accounts would help reduce the incentive to take a loan against or liquidate retirement accounts, which are also often subject to penalties for early withdrawals.”

Bill text can be found here. More information on the bill can be found here and here.