Maribeth Bersani

A bill that would raise the minimum age at which people would be required to withdraw funds from their retirement accounts is giving hope to senior living advocates that, if signed into law, it would result in older adults having more money to pay for long-term services and supports.

HR 1994, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, among other things would change the minimum distribution age from 70 ½ to 72.

“The average age in assisted living is 85. We don’t know how much people have in their IRAs, but whatever you have, it will continue to grow from 70 1/2 to 72,” Argentum Chief Operating Officer Maribeth Bersani told McKnight’s Senior Living on Thursday, the day the House of Representatives went on to vote to pass the legislation. “And then it just gives you that much more money that you can have when you need it for your long-term services and supports,” she added.

Argentum has been working to educate members of Congress and others about changing lifestyles and retirement security for years, Bersani said.

The act, she added, “really demonstrates that Congress is thinking about how Americans are aging differently. They are finally recognizing that people are living longer, they’re working longer, and they’re probably going to incur greater costs for long-term services and supports.”

Even with passage in the House, the bill still will need to pass in the Senate and be signed into law by the President Trump before a change would occur. So although nothing is assured, the fact that the legislation was introduced by Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and has bipartisan support, suggests that it “has legs,” Bersani said.

The topic has support outside of the House, too. Two similar bills in the Senate and an executive order from the president from August also call for raising the minimum distribution age from 70, Bersani said.

“We have been talking to the Senate about this concept as well,” she said.