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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Right now, the Powerball jackpot stands at $425 million, but whoever wins it will probably be broke within a few years. That's what happens to 70% of winners, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.

That made us think about retirement. (We know, we know... what doesn't?)

Lottery winners can choose to take annual payments, pay lower taxes on their newfound windfalls, and have 30 years before worrying about running out of money. But research shows that the vast majority of winners choose to take a windfall lump sum instead.

But those who take the lump sum apparently don't "invest" it so wisely.

So if you're the lucky Powerball winner, unless you plan to keep your job, think twice about how to fund your retirement, and whether to take your winnings all at once. Remember, that gigantic pot of money has to last your whole life, not just a few years.

And even if you don't win the lottery, beware of a lump sum of whatever size. It may look good now, but you take on the risk that you'll outlive it. Most folks do better with guaranteed income.

With recent news of the Detroit bankruptcy, more people are asking about PBGC's role in public pensions. However, by law, PBGC doesn't insure state, county, or city plans.

While we insure most private-sector (non-governmental) pension plans, Congress has also defined exceptions that PBGC does not insure. But for more information about public pensions, please contact the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems

Like the old saying goes "if you don't use it, you lose it." A study of nearly half a million people in France revealed that people who delay retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia.

Read the full Associated Press article on the USAToday website

PBGC will pay benefits for nearly 470 current and future retirees of Butzel Long, a law firm based in Detroit, Mich.

The agency stepped in because the firm would be unable to maintain its pension plan and remain in business.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by the law firm's retirees up to the legal limit of almost $57,500 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.

Recent media reports have suggested that Butzel Long's plan was short by at least $10 million, but that estimate assumed the plan was ongoing. At PBGC, we measure funding on a termination basis, which often reveals a much higher shortfall.

According to our estimates, as of March 20, 2013 (the plan termination date), the pension plan was 47 percent funded with $34 million in assets to pay $73 million in benefits. The agency expects to cover most of the $39 million shortfall.

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 Butzel Long's plan will be notified by letter after the transfer occurs.

More...

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.

NIRS: The retirement savings crisisA new study answers whether the retirement crisis is worse than we thought. The research report concludes that when all working-age families are counted, the typical family has only a few thousand dollars saved for retirement.

The study reveals:

  • The typical working-age household has only $3,000 in retirement account assets; the typical near-retirement household has only $12,000.
  • Four out of five working families have retirement savings less than one times their annual income.
  • The U.S. retirement savings deficit is between $6.8 and $14.0 trillion, depending on the household assets counted.

These findings are contained in a new research report, The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is it Worse Than We Think?, issued by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS).

Read the full study on the NIRS website.