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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

MyPBA  (My Pension Benefit Account) is our secure online service that lets you, the participant, handle certain common transactions with PBGC.

Participants in PBGC-trusteed plans can use PBGC's fast, free, and secure online service tool to apply for pension benefits, update contact information, adjust federal income tax withholding, and more.

Since generations accustomed to using technology are joining the ranks of retirees, this helps PBGC in enhancing technological resources, making your interactions with PBGC easier and more user-friendly.  

The old system, which came online around 2004, has been decommissioned, while the new MyPBA recently got a facelift complete with features designed to give participants a more convenient option to calling the agency's Customer Contact Center.

Some of the new and improved items include:

  • login
  • registration
  • email communications

About 250,000 participants with MyPBA accounts are expected to use the new MyPBA system at some time in the future.

But, if you wish to call PBGC's Customer Contact Center, we'd still like to hear from you!

PBGC will pay benefits for 27 current and future retirees of Wrightco Technologies Inc., a for-profit educational center located in Ebensburg, Pa.

The agency stepped in because Wrightco's pension plan is unable to pay retirement benefits.

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

The Wrightco Technologies Inc. Cash Balance Plan will end as of June 28, 2013.

Retirees will continue to get benefits without interruption, and future retirees can apply for benefits as soon as they are eligible.

PBGC can provide general information now and will be able to answer more detailed questions once we receive the pension plan's records. Participants in Wrightco's plan will be notified by letter after the transfer occurs.

For additional information, please email us at mypension@pbgc.gov or call 1-800-400-7242 (8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST, Monday - Friday) (TTY/ASCII: call 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 1-800-400-7242).

Wrightco was founded in 1989 and provides high-tech training in areas such as fiber optics and data communications. After several years of poor financial performance, the company sought Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Johnstown, Pa., on July 18, 2012.

How PBGC is changing the narrative on Retirement Security

From J. Jioni Palmer, Director, Communications and Public Affairs:

Photo of J. Jioni Palmer, Director of Communications & Public Affairs, CPAD

J. Jioni Palmer
Director of Communications & Public Affairs

I've always been fascinated by storytelling: The Harry Potter series, This American Life, Grimm, The Twilight Zone, The New Yorker and just about anything by Walter Mosely. Books, movies, radio, print or online periodicals, fact or fiction, it doesn't matter. Interesting characters and a compelling narrative rivet me.

I also particularly like watching commercials and I'm constantly amazed by the brilliance of ad writers who can develop the scene, introduce relatable characters and tell a complete story in 30 or 60 seconds. Beyond hawking products or pushing ideas, I find commercials offer interesting insights on the zeitgeist of a particular demographic, culture or society.

Today, in almost any hour of evening television, sandwiched between myriad commercials for insurance companies and the latest solution to make housecleaning a breeze, you'll see spots about encouraging the viewer to plan for retirement.

One really resonates with me because it echoes a true story we at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation tell a lot lately: people are living longer but retirement security isn't keeping pace. In the commercial, the narrator asks people to place a blue sticker along a timeline next to the age of the oldest person they've ever known. Not surprisingly, there are many dots ranging between 80 and 110. The spot closes with, "How do you make sure you have enough money to enjoy all of these years?"

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor PBGC endorses the products or services of the sponsor.

Since its inception in 1974, PBGC has been at the forefront of protecting the retirement security of the American people in defined-benefit pension plans offered by private companies. Now, most people probably don't know the agency exists, let alone think about us until the business they work for goes belly-up and they hear talk that the pension they've been looking forward to is about to evaporate.

Fortunately, PBGC does exist, and the safety net it provides allows most workers and retirees to keep the full promised benefit they've earned over many years.

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PBGC will pay retirement benefits for more than 830 current and future retirees of Noble Health Systems Inc., which operates Noble Hospital, a 97-bed acute-care hospital in Westfield, Mass.

The agency stepped in because the hospital can't pay its pension obligations and remain in business.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by the hospital's retirees up to the legal limit of $54,000 a year for a 65-year-old.

Retirees will continue to get benefits without interruption, and future retirees can apply for benefits as soon as they are eligible.

According to PBGC estimates, as of April 15, 2011, the pension plan was 61 percent funded with $28 million in assets to pay $46 million in benefits. The agency expects to cover $17.8 million of the $17.9 million shortfall.

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‘What is a Pension?’

  |   April 17, 2013

PBGC protects pensions. So, what is a pension? To most people, a pension is a retirement arrangement in which your employer promises you a regular payment from the day you retire, for as long as you live. The amount of your pension usually depends on how long you worked for an employer and your salary with that employer. Ask a retiree, "What is a pension?" and they may say,

"A pension is the $400 per month I receive for my many years of service at Acme Widgets. My pension helps to supplement the $600 per month I receive from Social Security and my retirement savings."

Normally, employees must work for an employer for a certain time period before the benefits they have earned belong to them. After they have done so, they are considered "vested" in those benefits. Today, in some pension plans, you are fully vested after five years on the job. In others, it takes you seven years to become fully vested - but you become vested in increasing portions of your benefit starting at three years. If you've worked for more than one company long enough to become vested in multiple pension plans, you can receive more than one pension payment.

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Weekly Pension News Round-Up

  |   March 15, 2013

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

The Journal Gazette publishes, "Retiring securely a rising concern."

HeraldNet runs, "Pensions part of system that actually works right." 

SmartHR Manager blogs about "More Pension Sponsors Considering Lump-sum Payouts."