Raising the required minimum distribution age for America's seniors
© Bloomberg / Getty Images

The United States is home to 54 million seniors who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. As our nation begins to recover, we must continue to support seniors through our current and future health and economic challenges. Taxes and regulations on retirement accounts must change to accommodate new financial burdens seniors face due to this public health crisis.

One significant change that can provide seniors with increased retirement security is to raise the required minimum distribution (RMD) age — the age when seniors must begin to withdraw assets annually from IRAs or 401(k)s. As a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and former state Treasurer for Kansas, increasing retirement security, especially through common sense reforms like RMDs, has been a driving issue for me.

In 2019, Congress passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, originating from Ways and Means. Once signed by President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE, this legislation increased the existing RMD age from 70 1/2 to 72 years.

ADVERTISEMENT

While this measure improved retirement security for millions of Americans, it didn’t plan for a pandemic that would crash a booming economy. It’s critical that lawmakers pass bipartisan legislation to provide workers with relief and encourage an economic recovery. As we continue to see the impact of COVID-19 on our nation, Congress must plan for incoming and future consequences of related shutdowns and changes to our everyday lives.

In October, I introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyLobbying from the center Lawmakers move to oust extremists from military Democrats seize on GOP donor fallout MORE (D-Fla.) to raise the RMD age again — from 72 to 75 years. My legislation — H.R. 8567 — would exempt individuals with cumulative account balances below $100,000 from the RMD rules so they could begin withdrawing funds at any age without incurring a penalty. As the law stands right now, account balances of any size are subject to RMD, only hurting those account holders with lower balances.

These RMD reforms have yet to make it to the House floor on their own, but this bill is included in the new, bipartisan Ways and Means Committee package — the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2020. This package, introduced by Ways and Means Chairman Neal (D-Mass.) and Leader Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyGOP digs in on preserving Trump tax cuts Capitol Police tribute turns political K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (R-Texas), will establish multiple measures to increase retirement security, specifically to help seniors through this health crisis and help workers plan for retirement in these uncertain times.

Raising the required minimum distribution age gives seniors more freedom to choose when they withdraw funds from savings, allowing for better financial planning. Now more than ever, America’s seniors need bipartisan reforms like these so that they may have a financially independent retirement. In what has been a tumultuous year, Congress can work together to give more Americans increased retirement security with common sense solutions.

Ron EstesRonald (Ron) Gene EstesCommerce Bank joins companies halting support for officials who opposed Biden transition READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Raising the required minimum distribution age for America's seniors MORE represents the 4th District of Kansas and serves on the Ways and Means Committee.