From Phyllis C. Borzi, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security:
Women have made enormous strides over the past three decades, in the workplace and beyond – and it's important to reflect on the men and women who fought for the changes that have led to greater gender equality. One of those changes was introduced 29 years ago: The Retirement Equity Act became law, ushering in important protections for America's workers and their families.
As the assistant secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, one of my chief responsibilities is to oversee the administration and enforcement of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which sets minimum standards for pension plans.
ERISA was and is an important law that protects the retirement savings of America's workers, but the law's original text had some significant shortcomings, and those shortcomings disproportionately affected women.
ERISA has strict prohibitions against the "alienation of benefits," so that creditors could not claim an employee's pension benefits. But as written in 1974, this also meant that divorced women were unable to obtain their fair share of their ex-husband's retirement benefits – even if a woman had forfeited a career of her own in order to support a husband or raise the couple's children.
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.
See 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.
The proposed Secure, Accessible, Flexible and Efficient (SAFE) Retirement Plan is outlined in the Center for American Progress's (CAP) report "American Retirement Savings Could Be Much Better." The SAFE Plan would combine elements of a traditional defined benefit pension — including regular lifetime payments in retirement, professional management, and pooled investing — with elements of a defined contribution plan, such as predictable costs for employers and portability for workers.
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.