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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

In anticipation of the potential for Hurricane Sandy to shut down payment processing centers, the agency started sending checks days ahead of our regular schedule.

About 140,000 benefit payment checks are sent from our offices to benefit payees on a monthly basis. With Hurricane Sandy making a strong impact in our region, there is some risk that delivery of those checks may be delayed.

What we're doing: We're seeking more detail about how far into the distribution process the checks got over the weekend. We're also monitoring the USPS website to assess the impact of Post Office closings to PBGC payees. We will also provide data to the Customer Contact Center (1-800-400-7242) if there are major impacts.

On the other hand, there are no delays for those with direct deposit. We strongly encourage everyone who receives their benefit via check to switch to direct deposit through MyPBA (My Pension Benefit Account).  It's timely, safe & secure.

Logo of Pemco World Air Services Inc.

Were you collecting or planning to collect a pension from Pemco World Air Services Inc.? If so, we've got news for you.

As of Wednesday, October 3, 2012, PBGC became the trustee of the Pemco World Air Services Inc. Pension Plan, which has some 1,252 participants, including 380 retirees.

Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, Pemco primarily provided aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services to commercial air carriers.

The company filed for bankruptcy on March 5, 2012 and the bankruptcy court approved the sale of their assets on August 9, 2012.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by the company's retirees up to the legal limit of $56,000 a year for a 65-year-old.

Participants with questions about their pension benefits should contact PBGC Customer Service at 1-800-400-PBGC (7242).

Weekly Pension News Round-Up

  |   September 14, 2012

Here's what made headlines this week in pension news:

The New York Post publishes, "Biz gets pensions break."

"Going to work for the government has always come with an ironclad promise: Your pension benefits will be there when you retire," The Sacramento Bee.

PBGC will pay retirement benefits for over 500 current and future retirees of B'nai B'rith International, a Jewish advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. 

The agency stepped in because B'nai B'rith wouldn't have been able to pay its bills or stay in business unless the plan was terminated.

The B'nai B'rith pension plan ended as of April 30, 2011. PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by the organization's retirees up to the legal limit of $54,000 a year for a 65-year-old. More...

There are a number of websites and online tools to help with retirement planning.  In particular, retirement calculators are one of the most useful tools in helping future retirees figure out how much to save for retirement. Although this tool, in its many variations, can be extremely helpful, very few actually provide detailed instructions on how best to use them. Fortunately, CBSNEWS.COM features Steve Vernon's tips on using retirement calculators:

  • Tip #1: What rate of return do you expect on your retirement savings?
  • Tip #2: When do you expect to retire?
  • Tip #3: How long will you live?
  • Tip #4: How much retirement income do you need?
  • Tip #5: Should you include Social Security benefits?

Read the CBSNEWS.COM full article:http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505146_162-57494187/5-tips-for-using-retirement-calculators/.

 

One big job for PBGC is to make sure that companies with pension plans finance those plans and PBGC's safety net. The best outcome is always for a company to keep its own pension plans. But when it can't, we also fight in court to recover the money that the company owes for its pensions.

A recent case involved the Daytona Beach, Fla. News-Journal, a newspaper in receivership  meaning that a court ordered the sale of the paper. The business owed PBGC $15 million for pension benefits that the newspaper owed its employees but that PBGC is now paying.

But in court, another creditor made a claim for an amount greater than the value of the entire business, based on its former ownership of the company. A Florida court gave that claim priority  leaving PBGC and others out in the cold.

A PBGC staff attorney researched Florida law and found that the court had made an error. With that information PBGC successfully appealed the ruling. Florida law says that claims arising from debt get priority over claims arising from ownership. The appeal kept PBGC's claim alive and may yet enable PBGC to collect significant funds from the newspaper.

"The decision supports the general rule that debt comes before equity," said Chief Counsel Izzy Goldowitz, "so it's an important precedent."

Read the appeals court's full decision. [PDF]