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Era of do-it-yourself retirement planning

Many Americans are concerned about their retirement security.

They hear frequently that the social security system could run out of money. Earlier this month, for instance, the Social Security Reform Commission, a high-level group of government appointees, agreed the pension system needs new revenue, or cuts in benefit growth, totaling between $150 billion and $200 billion this decade.

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Moreover, with corporate bankruptcies at near-record levels, there's widespread worry that many private pensions will fail despite the existence of a government corporation that insures them.

Considering the political pressures, Congress will probably patch up the social security system and rescue its private pension guaranty corporation if needed. Nonetheless, many people are taking a stronger interest in providing directly for their postretirement welfare.

This section explores these problems and some of the opportunities for providing greater financial security in retirement years.