The Pension Gamble Premieres Tonight

America is in the midst of a pension crisis: Around half of all states haven’t saved nearly enough money to pay for the benefits they’ve promised to government workers — and the total shortage adds up to trillions of dollars.

Who is responsible — and what is at stake for the country’s teachers, police, firefighters and other public employees?

Those questions are at the heart of The Pension Gamble, a new FRONTLINE investigation that comes to PBS tonight.

In the , producers Marcela Gaviria and Nick Verbitsky and correspondent Martin Smith trace how state governments have withheld pension contributions to cover shortfalls, and waged risky bets on Wall Street.

“This is a story about having your retirement, that you thought was secure, go south — and it’s a story that impacts millions of Americans,” says Smith, who with Gaviria previously investigated another element of retirement in America, the 401(k) industry, in 2013’s The Retirement Gamble.

Now, Smith goes inside the volatile fight over pensions playing out in Kentucky, a state whose once-flush pension system for its police, firefighters, teachers and other public workers is now among the worst-funded in the nation.

It’s a fight with broader consequences for public employees everywhere — and it’s a documentary you won’t want to miss.

The Pension Gamble premieres tonight at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. on PBS stations (check your local listings) and online at

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