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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

PBGC works to ensure that people who get benefits from us receive them on time — by the first of the month. However, there's one time when that doesn't happen — the beginning of the year.

Typically, if the first of the month falls on a weekend or holiday, direct deposits will usually post before the first of the month. For this reason, June, September, and December 2013 direct deposits arrived before the first of the month. For tax purposes, January is the exception to this rule.

If payments arrived in December, it would result in a tax liability for 2013 instead of 2014. For this reason, your funds will be deposited on Jan. 2, 2014, one day after the New Year.

If you get a paper check (mailed on Dec. 27, 2013), and have not received it by January 7, please call us at 1-800-400-7242 or visit our Contact Us page for other options.

Want to receive future payments more quickly? Remember, PBGC offers direct deposit. It's the most secure and fastest way to receive your payment, and your funds are always available on payday — even if the weather's bad, the post office is closed, or you're out of town. The future electronic direct deposit dates are already mapped out.

To learn more or sign up for direct deposit, please visit MyPBA or call 1-800-400-7242.

Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United StatesNew research from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) examines racial disparities in retirement readiness among working-age Americans and households.

The new report calculates the severity of the U.S. retirement security racial divide. The analysis finds that every racial group faces significant risks, but people of color face particularly severe challenges in preparing for retirement. Americans of color are significantly less likely than whites to have an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an individual retirement account (IRA), which substantially drives down the level of retirement savings.

Some of the key findings include:

1. Workers of color, in particular Latinos, are significantly less likely than White workers to be covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan—whether a 401(k) or defined benefit (DB) pension.

2. Households of color are far less likely to have dedicated retirement savings than White households of the same age. At the same time, coverage appears to be positively associated with the existence of dedicated household retirement savings in both groups. 

3. Households of color have substantially lower retirement savings than White households, even after controlling for age and income.

Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United States serves as a companion to NIRS' July 2013 study, The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think?, which documented a significant retirement savings gap among working-age households in the U.S.

Read the full NIRS report, Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United States.

Case Study — Furniture Brands Retirement Plan

Often times, mergers and acquisitions happen while employees, both current and past, miss the memo. Mergers and acquisitions are both an aspect of corporate strategy, corporate finance and management dealing with the buying, selling, dividing and combining of different companies and similar entities that can help an enterprise grow.

By now you may be asking what all of this means and how it affects you. Well, we're glad you asked.

Today we announced that PBGC moved to terminate the Furniture Brands International Inc. pension plan. PBGC is stepping in because the company plans to sell the majority of its assets in bankruptcy and the buyer isn't assuming the pension plan.

While you may not realize that the company you work/worked for was previously bought out by Furniture Brands, this bankruptcy case can possibly affect your pension.

If you were ever employed by companies under the Furniture Brands umbrella, this news is for you.

See the full PBGC News Release and the list of pension plans acquired by Furniture Brands International Inc.

Elizabeth Warren (AP Photo/Steven Senne)The retirement crisis is real and growing as millions of workers have less access to employer-sponsored plans and are saving less money. As a result, the opportunity of living a secure and comfortable retirement among many workers is gradually decreasing.

This crisis has not gone unnoticed. On Monday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spoke on the Senate floor about the need to address issues of retirement and social security. Throughout the speech, Warren reaffirmed the fact that the nation does face a retirement crisis, contrary to the belief of the Washington Post's recent editorial. Warren also called on Congress to strengthen Social Security rather than to cut benefits that many retirees depend on for their retirement.

As Warren said, "the conversation about retirement and Social Security benefits is not just a conversation about math. At its core, this is a conversation about our values."

Read the full text of the speech.

PBGC will pay retirement benefits for over 4,100 current and future retirees of Journal Register Company, a leader in local news and information in 10 states.

The agency stepped in because Journal Register Company and its subsidiary Journal Register East, Inc. (plan sponsor) filed voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on September 5, 2012. The companies sold the majority of their assets in bankruptcy proceedings and the buyer did not assume the company's single-employer pension plan.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by Journal Register retirees up to the legal limit of about $56,000 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.

According to PBGC estimates, the Journal Register pension plan is 51 percent funded with $91.5 million in assets to pay $177.7 million in benefits. The agency expects to cover the $86.2 million shortfall.

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).

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).