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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Line chart: ACSI Index. Retiree Results from 2009 to 2013: 89, 87, 90, 89 and 90. Federal Government Aggregate from 2009 to 2012: 69, 65, 67 and 68.PBGC's FY2013 Annual Report, released Friday, provides a detailed summary of our year — both successes and areas for improvement.

The 125-page review of the agency covers the period beginning Oct. 1, 2012 and ending Sept. 30, 2013.

PBGC's deficit increased to about $36 billion in FY2013, up from about $34 billion last year.

Opening with messages from PBGC Board Chair, Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez and PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum, the report examines ways to improve the agency's financial health and highlights our great scores in customer service.

Retirees receiving benefits continue to rate PBGC as one of the best in government for its commitment to customer service. The agency ranks in the top 3 percent in a survey measuring 154 categories of customer responsiveness. Retirees gave PBGC a score of 90 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), more than 20 points above the government average. A score of 80 or higher is considered excellent, whether for a government agency or a private business.

Aside from our distinguished customer service, the report also discusses three overarching goals:

  • Preserve plans and protect pensioners
  • Pay pension benefits on time and accurately, and
  • Maintain high standards of stewardship and accountability

Since you're a Retirement Matters subscriber, you've been kept abreast of PBGC news as it happens. This report can give you further insight on the year in review at PBGC.

See the full FY2013 Annual Report (PDF).

Maximum Yearly Guarantee. 2012 $56,000. 2013 $57,500. 2014 $59,320.Beginning in 2014, the maximum yearly guarantee for a 65-year-old retiree will be almost $59,320 – a 3.2% increase from the $57,500 rate in 2013.

Most retirees who get their pension from PBGC – almost 85 percent according to a 2006 study  – receive the full amount of their promised benefit. In some cases, retirees can receive more than the PBGC maximum guarantee.

The PBGC maximum guarantee is based on a formula prescribed by federal law. Yearly amounts are higher for people older than age 65 and lower for those who retire earlier or choose survivor benefits.

If a pension plan ends in 2014, but a retiree does not begin collecting benefits until a future year, the 2014 rates still apply. For plans that terminate as a result of bankruptcy, the maximum yearly rates are guided by the limits in effect on the day the bankruptcy started, not the day the plan ended.

The increase is not retroactive and applies only to single-employer pension plans. The maximum guarantee limit for participants in multiemployer plans is $12,870 with 30 years of service, which has been in place since 2001.

For more information, see PBGC's Maximum Monthly Guarantee Tables or a previous blog post "Making Sense of the Maximum Insurance Benefit."

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: 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.

Happy Labor Day from PBGC

  |   August 30, 2013

For more than 100 years, every Labor Day, America has celebrated working people's contributions. Labor Day is observed and celebrated in different ways all across the country by people in every walk of life. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

And after our working lives, we can continue to contribute to the country's strength and prosperity through secure retirements. When retirees can rely on their own secure retirement income, the economy wins, and that means workers win too.

PBGC wishes every American a safe and happy Labor Day. We reaffirm our commitment to protecting the more than 40 million American workers in private pension plans, to paying benefits for a million and a half people whose companies could not, and to fighting for American retirement security as part of every worker's American dream.

For a more in-depth look at the meaning of Labor Day, visit DOL's Labor Day 2013 webpage

Follow Us on Twitter

  |   August 29, 2013

twitter logo: light-blue background with the outline of a white bird in the centerSee the string of messages in the lower right-hand corner of this blog page? That's PBGC's Twitter feed. You can easily access the full feed on Twitter by clicking the famous Twitter bird under "Follow PBGC" to the right.

We use Twitter to spotlight our day-to-day efforts to protect pensions. When you follow us, you'll get quick bits of information to keep you in the know about PBGC. And each day you'll find a new fact about pensions, a link to a relevant article, or a news update about retirement security.

If you're among the more than 800,000 retirees who rely on PBGC for monthly income, you'll be first to get a link to your retiree newsletter.

If you work in the pension field, we'll tweet our monthly interest rates, premium filing updates, and news of important regulatory changes.

If you like one of our tweets and want to share it with friends, please favorite the tweet or simply retweet it, and help us spread the word as we work to save America's pensions.

Follow us at https://twitter.com/USPBGC