The Treasury Department expanded myRA Wednesday from a pilot project to a starter account for low- and middle-income workers who don’t have retirement plans available at their workplaces nationwide.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called myRA an important step to helping solve the nation’s retirement savings gap by helping create a habit of savings.

He said myRA should appeal to many eligible small savers because this Roth IRA has no start-up cost, no fees, no minimum contribution requirement and there is no risk of losing money. The interest rate is about 2 percent. The money is invested in government securities.

“It is safe, simple and affordable,” said the Treasury secretary.

There are three ways savers can contribute to the plan:
• Payroll deduction
• Contributions from their checking and savings accounts on a one time or recurring basis.
• Designating part or all of their federal tax refund to their myRA.

Savers can contribute as little as a few dollars up to $5,500 per year (or $6,500 per year for individuals who will be 50 or older by the end of the year.)

Money can be withdrawn tax-free and without penalty at any time for emergencies.

When a balance reaches the myRA cap of $15,000, the sum can be transferred to a private-sector Roth IRA.

Treasury Chief Economist Karen Dynan recently said myRA is a complement to efforts by states to start small-business retirement savings programs.

The creation of myRA was announced initially in President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address.

Anyone can sign up at whether or not they are employed.