Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits.
Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Biggs has been interviewed on radio and television as an expert on retirement issues and on public vs. private sector compensation. He has published widely in academic publications as well as in daily newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Biggs co-vice chair of a blue ribbon panel tasked with analyzing the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and how governments can securely fund plans in the future.
Biggs holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.
Principal Deputy Commissioner, 2007; Deputy Commissioner for Policy, 2006-2007; Associate Commissioner for Retirement Policy, 2003-2006, Social Security Administration
Associate Director, National Economic Council, White House, 2005
Social Security Analyst, Cato Institute, 1999-2003
Staff Member, President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, 2001
Director of Research, Congressional Institute, 1998-99
Ph.D., government, London School of Economics
M.Sc., financial economics, University of London
M.Phil., social and political theory, Cambridge University
It's common to hear that Americans face a "retirement crisis." In response, progressives have come up with their own solutions; including expanding Social Security and having the government run retirement plans for workers. In reality, though, the crisis is vastly overstated.
Washington Senator Patty Murray has introduced the Retirement and Income Security Enhancements – or “RAISE” – ACT, which would increase Social Security benefits for single women and children, financed by a new tax on high earners. Some of the RAISE Act’s provisions make sense. But the plan itself is a bad idea.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) claimed at a recent congressional hearing that 92% of Americans are unprepared for retirement. Other senators noted studies claiming that 53% to 84% of Americans will have inadequate income in old age.
Americans do not face a “retirement crisis”: while we may read in the newspapers that vast majorities of Americans are underprepared for retirement, the best research – including sophisticated modeling undertaken by the Social Security Administration – shows a more optimistic picture.
On July 15 the Congressional Budget Office rolled out updated projections that show a precipitous decline in Social Security's solvency. The program's 75-year deficit has nearly quadrupled since 2008, and the trust fund's exhaustion date has moved forward by nearly 20 years.
In a July 29 hearing of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, we highlighted how faulty data and weak analysis have led many policymakers to erroneously conclude that the American system of retirement saving simply isn’t working.
If the amount of press ink used to report a study is any indicator of its contribution to public understanding, the National Institute on Retirement Security's (NIRS) 2013 report, "The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse than We Think?" might be the gold standard on the subject of retirement security.
It is now conventional wisdom that Americans face a retirement "crisis," in part because Social Security benefits are seen as inadequate. For instance, the Social Security Administration's website explains that "most financial advisers say you'll need about 70% of your pre-retirement earnings to comfortably maintain your pre-retirement standard of living."