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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Monthly CalendarWho's participating in National Save for Retirement Week? We are!

Now, you may be asking yourself, "What exactly is this week, and is this the only time I'm supposed to save for retirement?"

To answer your second question...Of course not!

Here's the answer to your first question:

National Save for Retirement Week was created to raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement. National Save for Retirement Week is held every year during the third week of October. The week provides an opportunity for employees to reflect on their personal retirement goals and determine if they are on target to reach them.

This effort started in 2006, when Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) introduced the first resolution establishing the week-long focus on retirement. Their goals were to elevate public knowledge about retirement savings and to encourage employees to save and participate in their employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Today, plan sponsors and plan participants around the U.S. take part in this important seven-day event. We invite you to participate with us by staying tuned for a blog post a day, right here on Retirement Matters

Updated on 10/17/2013

If you get your health care coverage through the Internal Revenue Service's HCTC Program, you should know that the program is in the process of returning to regular operations. For more information, please call the HCTC Customer Contact Center at 1-855-379-0440.

About 11,000 PBGC benefit recipients participate in the Health Care Tax Credit Program, administered by the Internal Revenue Service. If you get your health care through HCTC, please read the following important message from the IRS:

"10/10/13 - Due to the federal government shutdown, the HCTC Program is currently closed and unable to issue payments to Health Plan Administrators on behalf of Monthly HCTC Participants. Although invoices were mailed to Monthly HCTC Participants in October, a timely payment to Health Plan Administrators cannot be guaranteed at this time. Any payment made to the HCTC Program during the shutdown will be processed upon receipt. For anyone who has already paid, or plans to pay, the HCTC Program in October, a payment will be issued to your health plan as soon as the government reopens and the HCTC Program becomes operable. To prevent a lapse in your health coverage, the HCTC Program suggests that you make a 100% payment directly to your health plan administrator in October and then claim the yearly HCTC for that payment when you file your 2013 federal income tax return. We understand the financial hardship facing our HCTC Participants and apologize that we cannot provide greater support at this time."

Please note that PBGC has no further information about the status of HCTC.

Photo: Academy President-Elect Tom Terry, PBGc CEO Josh Gotbaum, Academy President Cecil Bykerk

Academy President-Elect Tom Terry, PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum, Academy President Cecil Bykerk
Source: American Academy of Actuaries

PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum addressed the American Academy of Actuaries board last week. He applauded the academy's discussion paper, "Risky Business: Living Longer Without Income for Life," and encouraged the group to continue its lifetime income initiative. Gotbaum also discussed PBGC's efforts promoting sound retirement systems, and provided several ideas for how Congress, the public, and employers could each do their part to make sufficient lifetime income a reality.

In August, an analysis by the academy supported the methods used by PBGC to calculate the agency's financial position. "The Pension Committee of the American Academy of Actuaries believes the methods and assumptions used by the PBGC produce a reasonable representation of the PBGC's current obligation and deficit," the group said.

Editor's note: Portions of this blog post were reprinted from This Week with permission from the American Academy of Actuaries.

Message to HCTC Participants

  |   October 2, 2013

As we've previously mentioned on Retirement Matters, PBGC is not affected by the federal government shutdown. If you count on us for your pension benefit, you will be paid on time.

However, if you get your health care coverage through the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Health Care Tax Credit (HCTC) Program, you may be affected by the shutdown.  If you participate in the HCTC Program, please read the following message from the IRS HCTC Stakeholder Engagement Team:

10/1/13 - The IRS HCTC Program is operating with a significantly reduced staff and capacity during the current government shutdown. The HCTC Program will mail invoices and make payments to health plans for current Monthly Participants.  Please be sure your payment is received by the due date listed on your HCTC invoice. If you do not receive an invoice, please refer to a previous monthly invoice for your HCTC account number and consider making an online payment. You can also obtain a blank payment coupon on this website.

The HCTC Customer Contact Center will be closed.  If you have a health coverage or payment-related emergency you can call and leave a message at 1-855-379-0440; however please note that not all callers leaving a message at this number will receive service. This mailbox is being used to provide limited service to current monthly HCTC Participants only, who are facing an emergency health coverage or insurance payment issue.  We apologize, in advance, for our inability to provide greater service at this time. Thank you for your understanding.

When the federal government reopens, the HCTC Program will resume regular processing of all Registration Forms, Family Member Registration Forms, and Reimbursement Request Forms received by the October 1st cutoff for processing in advance of the 1/1/14 expiration of the Health Coverage Tax Credit.

Please note that PBGC does not have further information about HCTC coverage. If you have a question, please call the HCTC Customer Contact Center and leave a message at 1-855-379-0440.

Photo: PBGC Director, Joshua GotbaumShould the government shutdown, PBGC will stay open for business. All of us at PBGC—federal employees and contractors—will remain on the job. We will continue to pay benefits to the retirees who depend on us, to do our other work, and to honor our obligations.

This is not new. PBGC stayed open throughout the government shutdowns in 1995-96. That's because PBGC is different from most government agencies: Our funds are paid for by insurance premiums and plan assets, not taxpayer dollars.

As always, PBGC regards it as especially important to continue to do our work well, diligently, and with the dedication America's workers and retirees deserve.

Collage of images - a photo of the Euro currency symbol, a photo of Australia on a globe, and the Canadian flag

While the U.S. faces a retirement crisis, other countries have implemented programs that provide a better level of economic security in retirement. As compared to the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands provide higher retirement income for citizens through social security and universal/quasi-universal employer retirement plans.

These findings are in a new research brief, Lessons for Private Sector Retirement Security from Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands authored by John A. Turner, PhD, Pension Policy Center director, and Nari Rhee, PhD, National Institute of Retirement Security manager of research.

"Americans are struggling to save for retirement," says Rhee. "The typical family has only a few thousand dollars saved. Yet, other advanced countries are doing a far better job of enabling older populations to have economic security in retirement. We hope our research provides insight and ideas for U.S. policymakers working to improve Americans' economic insecurity." Download the full research brief.

The National Institute on Retirement Security originated the content of this post.