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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Keyboard with the word, retirement, as a keySimilar to that of a "payday loan," retirees are being offered pension advances with alarmingly high interest rates — rates often higher than those on credit cards.

While financial products like pension advances, which promise quick cash, may appear enticing, keep in mind that the long-term costs are largely hidden from the borrowers.

In an effort to protect your pensions and retirement security, Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, sent a letter to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) requesting documentation and information that could help the Committee identify Americans who may have been targeted by lenders offering lump-sum payments, with potentially illegally high rates of interest repayment, in exchange for a stake in the borrower's pension benefits.

In the letter, Harkin wrote, "Pensions are the bedrock of economic security in retirement for millions and millions of middle-class families. But now, it appears that there are some financial operations trying to siphon a profit off of people's retirement benefits. These unscrupulous companies are offering to buy pensions for a lump-sum. That may sound like a good idea to someone who is facing financial challenges, but long term, it can actually leave them worse off down the road. I hope this bipartisan investigation will shed light on the scope of this issue and uncover the companies that are taking advantage of our nation's pensioners."

Read the full text of the letter.

Here's more useful information: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Investor Bulletin - Pension or Settlement Income Streams: What You Need to Know Before Buying or Selling Them

The Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts released a new report titled "Retirement Security Across Generations: Are Americans Prepared for Their Golden Years?," which provides a glimpse into the uncertain situation facing those who are approaching retirement age.

The report explores the retirement security for different age groups and examines how the Great Recession affected the wealth and retirement security of baby boomers as compared to younger and older age groups.

This research reveals that younger age groups face the greatest prospect of downward mobility in their golden years. 

Among the many significant findings in the study is that Americans born after 1955 carry more debt than have previous generations, and that this age group faces a severe decline in living standards upon retirement.

Read the full report

Retirement Lane street signMany companies still offer pensions — and with them, retirement income that you can't outlive.  Generation Xers and Millennials with in-demand skills can target jobs with pension plans — but what's the fallback?

Too many don't know. If we filled a room with all of Generation X and Y, and then separated the room in half,  less than half of the people on one side of the room would have made saving for their retirement a top priority, according to research from LIMRA, a research, consulting and professional development organization for insurance and financial services companies.

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Renting a new apartment?  Buying a house? Applying for benefits from a government agency?  If so, someone may ask you to prove your income. 

If you get a retirement benefit from PBGC, we'll be happy to verify the amount you receive.  Mail us your request in writing, and we'll send income verification to you or a third party (like a landlord or mortgage company).   

To protect your privacy, we have to be sure you authorize us to send out this information.  So you or the third party will have to follow a few simple steps.  You can find complete instructions on our Income Verification Procedures webpage.  

There isn't any doubt that the economy has taken a big hit in recent years.

As the housing market begins to rebound and the stock market hits a new high, the percentage of Americans who are confident that they will have enough money for a comfortable retirement is the lowest it has been in 23 years.

According to the latest Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) only 13 percent were very confident of having a comfortable retirement, while 38 percent were somewhat confident, 21 percent not too confident, and 28 percent not at all confident.

Some of the biggest factors influencing the drop in confidence are high debt levels, and uncertainty about employment.

Read the 2013 EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey Results.

Couple moving out of their sold home.

Do you get a PBGC pension check?

If so, you've got a long-term relationship going on — with PBGC.

We're happy about that.  But, we want to stay in touch.  

Even if your check is deposited directly into your bank account, PBGC still needs your current street address to keep paying you.

So when you move, be sure to tell us your new address. 

You can do it online with MyPBA.  If you've never used MyPBA, it's easy to get started.

Or, you can change your address through our Customer Contact Center at 1-800-400-7242.  

We'll sleep better knowing where you are.  And, we promise to drop you a line now and then.