What is START? START (Save Toward A Retirement Today) is a bipartisan bill under consideration by the Washington legislature. If passed, START will make it easier for people to begin saving for their retirement by creating a simple, convenient and voluntary retirement savings option for the self-employed and employees of small businesses in Washington state.

Why is START needed?

  • Retirement plans for small businesses and the self-employed are limited, costly and difficult to use. 77% of small businesses employees (fewer than 100 workers), and 86% of very small business employees (fewer than 10 workers), do not have access to a retirement savings plan at work.(1)
  • That leaves many workers with no way to save for retirement at work – except for Social Security, which isn’t enough to rely on. More than half of Washingtonians rely primarily on Social Security for their retirement income – but the average monthly benefit is just $1,230/month.(2)
  • When you don’t have good options, you can’t make good choices. That’s why 1 in 4 Washington residents (462,000 people) age 45-64 have less than $25,000 in savings – and nearly 3 out of 5 middle-class Washington retirees can expect to outlive their financial assets.(3)(4)

How will START work? START is a private-public partnership that opens new markets to business. Managed by private sector firms under contract with the Washington State Investment Board, START will offer participating businesses and the self-employed basic, low-cost, age-indexed retirement funds, helping reach a long-unserved market: moderate-income employees of small businesses in Washington state.

How is START better? An affordable, flexible option for small businesses and the self-employed, START will offer a “plug and play” retirement savings option featuring low overhead, optional employer contribution, and employee auto-enrollment. Employees choose from a few simple, high-quality products with reasonable fees and low investment requirements – and their plan can follow them from job-to-job.

START is supported by Washington’s small business owners:(5)

  • 73% agree Washington should do more to help small businesses prepare for retirement.
  • 63%  support “START” legislation to make it easier for the self-employed and small businesses to have a basic retirement option. 
  • 60% would offer a retirement plan if an affordable option was available that fit their needs.

(1) “Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2011,” EBRI Issue Brief 378 (Nov. 2012), p. 11. Calculations based on data presented.
(2) US Social Security Administration
(3) “Not Making the Grade: 2013 Survey Of Financial Decisions Among Washington State Adults Ages 45-64”, AARP Research & Strategic Analysis, April 2013
(4) “Retirement Vulnerability of New Retirees in Washington”, Americans for Secure Retirement, 2010.

(5) “Opinion Poll: WA Small Businesess Concerned About Retirement”, Small Business Majority Press Release, January 23, 2014


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