can you afford to retire

Student Handout

Viewer's Guide

Introductory note:
Until recently, most workers expected to retire with a pension that would provide them with a fixed source of income for the rest of their lives. The pension, combined with some income and health benefits from the governmentıs Social Security and Medicare programs would, they reasoned, allow them to have sufficient income to retire. Familiarize yourself with the terms below to help you understand the major shift that has occurred in retirement planning and benefits.

Part One Directions:
Review the following terms prior to watching the documentary.

Part Two Directions:
Review the questions below before watching the film and be prepared to answer them after you view the documentary. Take notes as you watch to help you in the discussion that will follow.

  1. 401(k) plans were authorized by Congress in 1978 and became popular in the 1980s.

    • What was the original purpose of 401(k)s?
    • What is their role now?
  2. Discuss what Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren means when she says in the documentary: "Bankruptcy is a way to take legal promises and burn them."
  3. After United Airlines declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, one person in the documentary says, "Everyone lost except Tilton [United's CEO] and the banks." Based on what you saw in the film, explain what this statement means.
  4. Name three specific ways that the life of United Airlines flight attendant Robin Gilinger changed after United Airlines restructured.
  5. All workers do not participate in 401(k) programs.

    • Give one reason why some workers do not participate.
    • Give one factor that correlates to which workers will be successful with their 401(k) investments.