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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Last Friday marked the official start of the 2014 holiday shopping season. And today, as many gear up to score "Cyber Monday's" best deals, many Americans are still struggling. And that includes a number of PBGC's customers. That struggle is reflected in the increased number of inquiries we have received about loans or payment increases.

PBGC does not have the authority to make loans. If you are not yet retired, however, you will have several options as to how your benefit can be paid. Options include different benefit levels for your surviving spouse or other beneficiaries. "Your PBGC Benefit Options" provides more information about these options for meeting your financial needs.

While Congress provided for cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for Social Security benefits, it did not establish similar measures for PBGC payments. Your benefit amount will not increase with inflation.

We know how important every penny is these days, so know that you can count on PBGC to pay you the maximum amount allowable by law, and that your payment will be made on time every month.

PBGC: A Year in Review

  |   November 18, 2014

With members of Congress, President Gerald R. Ford signed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act(ERISA) of 1974 on Monday, September 2, 1974. ERISA established the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

On Sept. 2, PBGC celebrated its 40th year of protecting pensions. And yesterday, PBGC released its FY 2014 Annual Report, highlighting the agency's accomplishments and areas for improvement. The review period covers Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2014.

PBGC's deficit increased to $62 billion in FY 2014, up from $36 billion the year before. The deficit increase is largely driven by the declining financial condition of a few multiemployer plans. The deficit in the multiemployer program grew to $42.4 billion, compared with $8.3 billion last year.  This increase is largely due to the fact that several additional multiemployer plans are now expected to run out of money within the next decade. But the single-employer program's deficit saw an improvement and dropped to $19.3 billion, down from $27.4 billion in 2013.

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As more of our customers seek online service, we continue to look for ways to make our website easier to navigate. The following tools will help you reach your online destination quickly and easily:

  • A-Z index: Similar to the index in the back of a book, this feature lists the name of every page and our most popular documents. If you're not sure where you found that page you were reading last week, here's where you can track it down.
  • Search: This improved page links you to our most popular pages, such as the unclaimed pension search page. You can also use the search bar at the top of every page to search the entire site. Need help getting started? Visit our Search Help page for tips.
  • Glossary: We aim to write in plain language, but in the complicated world of pension benefits, sometimes a technical term is needed. For that reason, we've included a glossary of technical terms.

Links to these and other key features, such as FAQs, Spanish content, and contact information, are located at the top of every page.

But wait, there's more! We also have tools to help you determine if you're in the right place, and if not, where else to look.

Our New to PBGC page explains what we do. Our Finding a Lost Pension page helps track down a pension from your past, and our External Resources page provides channels for further pension information.

We hope you'll have a look around, see some things of interest, and maybe even tell your friends. Happy surfing!

Photo: Alice Maroni

Earlier this month, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez visited PBGC to praise the agency for its good works and to acknowledge PBGC's 40th anniversary. At the same time, the agency officially ushered in a new era of leadership.

Alice Maroni was introduced as the Acting Director. Maroni is no stranger to the agency, serving as Chief Management Officer for the past three years. During his talk, Perez praised Maroni with a vote of confidence, saying the agency will be well-served by her leadership. "You are in very good hands with Alice." he said. "And we have all the confidence in the world, as I suspect you do as well, in her many talents."

Those talents were honed by a distinguished career in public service. Maroni spent a decade at the Smithsonian as Chief Financial Officer, before coming to PBGC in May 2011. Prior to that, she held leadership and management positions at the Department of Defense and on Capitol Hill.

"If you know me, then you know that I am committed to the mission of PBGC," Maroni said in her first agency wide address as Acting Director.

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PBGC and Open Government

  |   September 15, 2014

We'd like to highlight some recent updates to PBGC's Open Government webpage. The page includes important PBGC data sets, underlying data that supports PBGC programs. Additionally, the page provides information about how the American public can provide input to help make PBGC's work and performance even better and more engaging.

In accordance with the President's Open Government Initiative, PBGC has posted an updated version of its Open Government Plan [PDF], version 3.0. Our Plan reflects input from senior policy, legal, and technology leadership in PBGC, as well as our customers and visitors.

We've posted two new data sets: Multiemployer Pension Plan Terminations, Mergers, and Insolvencies and Summary of Changes; both are updated annually. These data sets present machine accessible downloadable information that was previously unavailable online.

These data sets can be used to increase agency accountability, improve public knowledge of the agency and its operations, create economic opportunity and further the agency's mission.

PBGC welcomes stakeholder input on these data sets and other ways PBGC can promote the values of transparency, participation and collaboration in government.

To help us do a better job of serving you, please consider the following:

  • What PBGC data or content should we make more readily available?
  • Which PBGC online service or data would you like to be easier to use?
  • Which PBGC service would you like to use on your mobile device?

Please direct feedback to Opengov@pbgc.gov.

This entry is part of a series of blog posts that looks back and commemorates the agency's work.

PBGC 40th Anniversary Logo

The big blows are landed

The fight to save pensions intensified, as financial crisis led to broken promises and end-runs on pension security. Iconic companies moved to end pension security and the number of people served by PBGC continued to rise.

We started the decade with annual benefit payments to participants surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time.

As 2001 started, PBGC took over two Trans World Airlines' pension plans. These plans covered 36,500 former workers and retirees and were underfunded by about $700 million. By the end of the year annual benefit payments by PBGC to participants surpassed the $1 billion mark for the first time.

TWA was merely the first big blow of many that decade.

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