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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

‘What is a Pension?’

  |   April 17, 2013

PBGC protects pensions. So, what is a pension? To most people, a pension is a retirement arrangement in which your employer promises you a regular payment from the day you retire, for as long as you live. The amount of your pension usually depends on how long you worked for an employer and your salary with that employer. Ask a retiree, "What is a pension?" and they may say,

"A pension is the $400 per month I receive for my many years of service at Acme Widgets. My pension helps to supplement the $600 per month I receive from Social Security and my retirement savings."

Normally, employees must work for an employer for a certain time period before the benefits they have earned belong to them. After they have done so, they are considered "vested" in those benefits. Today, in some pension plans, you are fully vested after five years on the job. In others, it takes you seven years to become fully vested - but you become vested in increasing portions of your benefit starting at three years. If you've worked for more than one company long enough to become vested in multiple pension plans, you can receive more than one pension payment.

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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.  

PBGC, Taxes, and You

  |   March 25, 2013

As the income tax deadline approaches, here is some important information about PBGC benefits and taxes.

While PBGC is required to withhold federal income tax, we do not withhold for state taxes. If your state has an income tax, you may owe tax on your PBGC benefit. To find out more, contact your state tax office (Excel file, 14.4 KB).

Also, if you receive a benefit from PBGC, we report the amount annually to the IRS.

For income tax purposes, each January PBGC sends you an IRS Form 1099-R that states the amount we paid you the previous year.

If you need a Form 1099-R for 2012 and haven't received it, PBGC will get you one.

The IRS has a tool, "Is My Pension or Annuity Payment Taxable?" that will help you determine if your pension or annuity payment from an employer-sponsored retirement plan is taxable.

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.

Do you have any idea where the United States ranks when it comes to retirement security? You guessed first place? No, that's not it.

Second? Not that either.

In fact, the U.S. barely made the top 20 ranking. The U.S. ranked number 19, among 150 countries listed by retirement security, behind many Eastern and Western European countries, according to Natixis Global Asset Management firm.

The Natixis Global Retirement Index "gauges how well retired citizens live in 150 nations" based on 20 measures of health, wealth, quality of life and "material well-being" that affect citizens' retirement security.

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