Sabelhaus said the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) might be better suited to capture retiree income and account flows. The SCF captures data on the income and wealth of U.S. families, including IRAs and 401(k)s.
Using the SCF reveals that resources available to retirees are more substantial than the CPS suggests. The increases for low-income individuals, however, are substantially smaller than those at the top of the income distribution.
He said the shift from defined-benefit plans to defined-contribution plans will only increase the need to measure retirement income and financial status in a different way.
Sabelhaus also noted that the demographic profile of retirees might be evolving as well. He said the increased participation of people age 65 and older in the workforce not only changes the definition of a retiree, it also increases their income and may have an impact on the solvency of Social Security.
President Obama plans to ask Congress to reduce tax benefits for high-earning 401(k) investors as part of his 2015 budget. The president wants to limit the value of all tax deductions, defined contribution exclusions and IRA deductions to 28 percent of income.