Local 1000 member lays out intergenerational challenges of retirement security in testimony before Secure Choice Retirement Board


Following are the comments of Local 1000 member Susan Difuntorum, an associate information systems analyst at DDS. She testified on May 26 at the Secure Choice Retirement Board, who is working to provide retirement options for the millions of Californians who don’t have employer-provided pensions.

Hello. My name is Susan Difuntorum. I grew up here in California. I’m a state worker and a veteran. I’m 62 years old and I’m looking forward to retiring in the near future. At this time in my employment I don’t have enough time or make enough money to put into a 401(k) to beef up my retirement. I’m hoping that between my pension and Social Security that I’ll be able to live comfortable during retirement.

 I’m here today, because I’m worried about my and my family’s future.

I’ve worked for the State since 2007, a little over 8 years, and have been counting on the small pension I was promised for working for the state. During my time with the state we state workers have experienced many threats to our pay, threats to our health benefits, threats to our pensions, threats to our livelihood. I’m in constant fear that the next attack will be my pension. 

If my pension was decreased or I lost my pension, I don’t think I could ever quit working and would have to think about having to go back to work. Who’s going to hire me at my age?  I’ve worked hard all my life and played by the rules. Played hard too.  But even if California keeps its promise to me and leaves my pension intact until I die, how secure is the retirement of others and my family?

My daughter also works for the state. This attack on state workers’ pension continues, what will the future be for her or my son-in-law who is a teacher, who does not pay into Social Security? They also have a young son. They don’t make enough to have to take care of me and wouldn’t want them to have to take care of me and provide for themselves and their family; much less be able to build a nest egg for their own retirement. I’m worried and concerned about the future we’re creating for my grandson.

Somewhere we lost the American Dream. Retirement was supposed to be the reward for a lifetime of hard work. But with things the way they are, people working today are and will retire in poverty. That poverty will ripple across generations and devastate the children and grandchildren who have to take care of their parents. I don’t want that future for them or anyone.

The solution to our retirement crisis is clear: The state needs to honor their commitment to state workers and protect their pension. We need to make sure Social Security is kept strong and a reliable resource. We need to move forward with Secure Choice so the millions of working Californians who have no retirement plan will have the opportunity to save for their future. A secure retirement isn’t about how much you can save. It’s about your family, and your community and making California strong.

 Thank you for your time.