WASHINGTON – In an important step forward to help workers – especially low-wage workers – adapt to the changing nature of America’s workplace, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of approximately $100,000 in funding through the new Portable Retirement Benefits Planning grant program.
Administered by the department’s Women’s Bureau, the program seeks to assist those workers who have traditionally lacked access to an employer-provided retirement benefits program (including independent contractors) or are otherwise less likely to have income from pensions or assets. Changing work arrangements in the high- and low-tech sectors place a greater importance on need for millions of workers – whether they are employees or independent contractors – to be able to take benefits from job to job to ensure greater retirement security.
“These grants are a continuation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s ongoing efforts to support innovation aimed at increasing the availability of retirement savings options and making such benefits more portable. Such efforts are critical to ensuring that more Americans can enjoy retirement security in this changing economy,” said Sharon Block, senior counselor to the secretary of labor and principal deputy assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.
The department will award two to four grants between $25,000 and $75,000 each to nonprofit organization. The grants are intended to help such organizations develop certain program planning activities needed to initiate development of portable retirement benefits programs for their stakeholders or target populations. Such activities must involve assessing the challenges and barriers unique to low-wage workers with little to no retirement savings, researching opportunities to expand or build new portable retirement vehicles, or identifying associated legal constraints that would need to be addressed before implementing these types of programs.
Retirement security is essential to ensuring American workers’ long-term economic security – but retirement wealth has not kept pace with the nation’s aging population and other economic and demographic changes. Today, one out of three workers does not have access to a retirement savings plan, including half of workers at firms with fewer than 50 employees and more than three-quarters of part-time workers.
The Funding Opportunity Announcement outlines the grant priorities, evaluation factors, and application guidance for up to four competitive grants. The closing date for receipt of applications related to this announcement is Aug. 26, 2016.