Our daily roundup of retirement news your clients may be thinking about.

Bob Kerrey: Make Social Security payouts more progressive
Many retirees have Social Security as their only source of income, so raising their monthly benefits this year would be a tremendous help to them, writes Bob Kerrey, a former U.S. Senator and governor of Nebraska. Benefits are now calculated at 90% of someone's first $826 of average monthly wages, plus 32% of wages from $826 to $4,980, and 15% of anything over $4,980. He's calling for that first bracket to be raised to $1,150, and the replacement rate to be increased to a full 100%. "Making the benefit structure more progressive will help older, low-income Americans today,"says Kerrey, currently the executive chairman of the Minerva Institute.--The Wall Street Journal

Social Security disability finances just got harder to fix
Fixing the financial woes of the Social Security Disability Insurance program will be tougher than before thanks to the new rules adopted by the House of Representatives, writes Alicia H. Munnell, director of Boston College's Center for Retirement Research. The new rule blocks any move to reallocate portion of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund to the DI fund, although such a transfer "would not be a big deal," Munnell argues. "It would significantly extend the life of the DI trust fund, while not having a serious effect on the life of the retirement portion of the program."  --MarketWatch

No, cheap oil prices probably won’t crash your 401(k)
Although the slump in oil prices can stir market volatility, the trend will hardly affect investors' retirement portfolio, according to this article on Washington Post. That's because the market remains bullish amid the recent volatility, with the Dow Jones industrial average rising over the last year despite the decline in prices. "So as far as 401(k)s go, this is really a moment that underscores the importance of portfolio diversification."  --Washington Post

Time for a national conversation about retirement policy
While improvements in the U.S. retirement system were made on its past weaknesses over the years, there is now a pressing need for a full, national conversation about retirement policy, writes Scoot Cooley, Morningstar's director of policy research.  He says that although the private sector continues to be an innovator, offering a variety of solutions such as target-date funds, public policy in the U.S. has become a laggard. He notes that while other nations have engaged in bold experimentation, the U.S. has stumbled along on its path that has led to half its private-sector workers having no employer-provided retirement plan, while facing a future that could feature cuts in their Social Security benefits. "As part of the debate around U.S. retirement policy, it seems worthwhile to consider their experiences," Cooley writes.  --Morningstar

Do you make these common mistakes with your 401(k) plan?
Many 401(k) participants contribute too little to the plan, but raising that contribution rate by just 1 percentage point every year is a move to correct this mistake, according to an article on The Motley Fool. Sticking to one investment type over the years is another mistake many participants make, and spending more time to understand the markets can help turn things around. Many workers also defer saving for retirement, which is a big mistake, as the money could earn bigger if it is invested over a longer period of time.  --The Motley Fool

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