Retirement Security

About this Policy

All people deserve the right to retire with dignity. Unfortunately, our national retirement savings crisis has left older adults with insufficient savings to meet their basic needs. As more and more businesses fail to offer a retirement savings option for their employees, this trend will only get worse.

FIAI led the campaign to address this crisis in Illinois. After more than 5 years of advocacy, in 2015 Illinois became the first state to enact legislation, the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program, that will automatically enroll private-sector workers without access to an employment-based retirement plan into such a savings program.

Policy Highlights


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    Retirement Insecurity in Illinois

    Before the Secure Choice Savings Program, over 2.5 million workers in Illinois lack access to an employment-based retirement plan. That means that over half of the private sector workforce is expected to retire on Social Security alone, along with any savings they are able to accumulate without a payroll deduction at work, because their employers don’t provide access to pensions, 401(k)s or IRAs. This problem is spread throughout the state, affecting at least 50% of private sector workers in every legislative district. This inability to easily save for retirement through work is contributing to increased retirement insecurity and an over-reliance on Social Security. Learn more.

    Illinois workers need access to easy and convenient tools to build retirement savings. Without them, more people will experience a drastically reduced quality of life in retirement.

    Victory: Illinois Secure Choice

    What is the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program?

    Secure Choice is a new program for Illinois workers that launched in 2018. It is one way to help private sector workers save their own money for retirement.

    Am I eligible to participate in Secure Choice?

    If you work at an employer that has been operating for at least 2 years, employs 25 or more workers a year, and doesn’t already offer you a qualified retirement savings option, then you are eligible to participate in the program. If you fall outside of this description, you may be able to participate another way. More information on eligibility is available at the Secure Choice website.

    How does Secure Choice work?

    Workers are automatically enrolled in the program, but can choose not to participate. Workers that don’t opt-out can choose to save a portion of their paycheck into a Roth IRA through automatic deductions from their paycheck. During enrollment, workers may choose an account type and determine their level of contribution. For the worker who chooses the default option, they will contribute 5% of every paycheck to a target date life-cycle fund. A worker can change their investment amount and type.

    What’s next?

    The Illinois State Treasurer is administering the Illinois Secure Choice Program on behalf of the Secure Choice Board.  After three phases of enrollment in 2018 and 2019, Illinois Secure Choice is being fully implemented.

    FIAI advocated for the successful implementation of Secure Choice, with a focus on ensuring that the program design takes into account the unique needs of low-income workers and workers of color. Learn more about the barriers to retirements savings faced by low-income workers and implementation considerations that will help ensure full and equitable access to the program.

    We are also working to raise awareness and equip local nonprofits and workers with information about the new program. Download and share our fact sheets about Secure Choice in English, Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, and Tagalog.

    Content related to this policy

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    Webinar: Secure Choice, a New Retirement Savings Program in Illinois

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