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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Despite substantial economic and market gains, multiemployer pension plans covering about 1.5 million people are severely underfunded, threatening benefit cuts for current and future retirees, according to the FY 2013 Projections Report released today by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. By comparison, the financial situation for private single-employer plans, which cover about 30 million participants, is projected to improve.

Image showing multiemployer plans coverage

As required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, PBGC annually provides an actuarial evaluation of its future expected operations and financial status. The FY 2013 Projections Report (formerly called the "Exposure Report") released today provides a range of estimates of the future status of private pension plans and their effect on PBGC's financial condition, drawn from hundreds of economic scenarios.

Logo: MyPBA

If PBGC is responsible for your pension benefit, the easiest way to transact business with us is through MyPBA, our secure online service.

MyPBA is fast, free, and available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Your online transactions are safe and confidential. You can change your address, sign up for direct deposit, designate your beneficiary, print out your IRS Form 1099-R, and view your payment information.

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If you're a participant in a National Steel pension plan, you may have received a communication claiming that PBGC is conducting a general review of the benefit amounts paid to National Steel participants.

Please be assured that this is not the case. PBGC did not send out any such communication, and is not reviewing National Steel benefits.

We are confident that your pension benefit has been determined accurately and that you are receiving the maximum amount you are entitled to under law.

If you have any questions or receive additional false information purporting to come from PBGC, please feel free to contact us at mypension@pbgc.gov or 1-800-400-7242.

Joshua Gotbaum sitting with Adam Shapiro

In part one of a two-part series, "Insuring Private Pensions," Fox Business reporter Adam Shapiro and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Director Josh Gotbaum, discuss the need for Congress to raise premiums to ensure 42 million Americans receive the pensions they were promised.

By now, you may have read news headlines addressing a study on PBGC premium increases released by the Pension Coalition. In an official PBGC statement, Gotbaum responded saying, "Unlike the FDIC and other Federal insurance programs, Congress has continued to set PBGC premiums and has done so in ways that both underfunds PBGC and is convincing some companies they shouldn't offer pensions at all."

In his interview, Gotbaum explains the specific PBGC-related issues that affect the retirement crisis.

Watch the complete video interview on the Fox Business website.

Photo of Kathleen P. Utgoff

Kathleen P. Utgoff, PBGC Director 1985-89

In its 40-year history, PBGC has had 14 agency directors, including current Director Josh Gotbaum. One among them stands out, however. With Women's History Month underway, Retirement Matters features former agency director Kathleen P. Utgoff.

Among a dozen wood-framed portraits on the 12th floor of the agency's Washington, DC headquarters, one photo stands out. That's because the image depicts the only female ever to serve as PBGC's executive director.

Installed as the agency's seventh director during the Reagan administration, Utgoff led PBGC from 1985 to 1989. When her term ended, who knew that in 40 years of protecting America's pensions, her photo would be the only woman's to grace that wall of fame of former directors?

As the agency celebrates both National Women's History Month with the 2014 theme of Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment, as well as PBGC's 40th anniversary with its theme of Celebrating the Past, Securing the Future, Retirement Matters thought it'd be a good idea to dust off some old Rolodexes and introduce, or in some cases reintroduce Utgoff to PBGC, which she calls "a jewel among agencies."

Cartoon representation of Kathleen P. Utgoff in front of sign reading PBGC Renovation Project. Project Engineer: Kathleen P Utgoff

Reprinted with permission, Business Insurance 1989. © Crain Communications, Inc.

In a 1989 cartoon (pictured left), cartoonist Roger Schillerstrom of Business Insurance depicts Utgoff at the completion of her term. She touted the PBGC Renovation Project as one of her biggest accomplishments.

Some plan participants may have been introduced to the agency under Utgoff's reign, but for those who have no idea who she is, here's "herstory."

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40th anniversary logo

PBGC was just getting started when Vietnam was winding down, President Nixon resigned, the NFL granted a franchise to Seattle, and Americans preferred avocado green kitchen appliances over anything that color on four wheels.

When we started, we churned out plans and memos and reports from typewriters and could smoke on the job, and pensions still seemed to be almost as solidly American as basketball, jazz, and poker.

In the distance, however, the sunrise of change was already hinting at dusk.

Events and crises, economic disruptions and volatility triggered a shift in how pensions were viewed — morphing from promises and pledges that were "solid" to being cast as liabilities on balance sheets. During 40 years our creativity and resourcefulness have been challenged, keyed on what tools we can use to protect Americans.

As we look at our 40 years to see where we came from and how our mission has been steadfast in changing dynamics, here is what part of our world was like when PBGC — as well as 21 of our current employees — was born.

The nation had never seen anything like us: an agency dedicated to saving pensions and protecting those about to lose pensions.

We were then, and we still are.

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