Skip to main content

About PBGC

How PBGC Operates

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) protects the retirement benefits of more than 40 million workers and retirees. For more information on PBGC and the people we help, please visit our Who We Are page.

Where the money comes from

  • PBGC revenue does not come from the use of general fund tax dollars
  • It is derived from:
    • Insurance premiums paid by nearly 26,000 insured defined benefit pension plans
    • assets from terminated trusteed plans
    • Investment income
    • Recoveries from companies that sponsored failed plans
  • Net premium revenue totaled about $2.7 billion in 2012

Two Pension Insurance Programs

  • The single-employer program protects nearly 33 million workers and retirees in about 24,000 pension plans
  • The multiemployer program protects about 10 million workers and retirees in about 1,500 pension plans. Multiemployer plans are set up pursuant to collective bargaining agreements involving more than one unrelated employer, generally in one industry.
  • If a single-employer plan fails and PBGC becomes responsible for it, the agency directly pays benefits due to retirees (and future retirees) up to legal limits.
  • PBGC does not directly pay the benefits of people in failed multiemployer plans. Instead, the agency provides financial assistance to the plans themselves, which continue to pay retirees.

Find out if your pension plan is insured by searching our single-employer list or our multiemployer list of defined benefit pension plans.

What Happens When PBGC Takes Over Your Plan

PBGC reviews your plan's records to determine what benefits you will receive. To ensure PBGC has the correct information, we will ask you to complete an information form.

  • If you are already receiving a pension, PBGC will continue paying you without interruption during our review
  • These payments will be an estimate of the benefits that PBGC can pay under the insurance program
  • It may be less than you were receiving from your plan, but it will be paid in the annuity form you chose at retirement
  • If you have not yet retired: Four months before you want your benefits to begin, request an estimate from PBGC. (Strongly recommended)
  • Three months before you want your benefits to begin, start your application by using our online service. Or, call our Customer Contact Center toll-free at 1-800-400-7242. (For TTY/ASCII users call toll-free at 1-800-877-8339).
  • PBGC pays most benefits by electronic direct deposit, but you may still receive your benefit by paper check if you prefer.