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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters
Photo: Academy President-Elect Tom Terry, PBGc CEO Josh Gotbaum, Academy President Cecil Bykerk

Academy President-Elect Tom Terry, PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum, Academy President Cecil Bykerk
Source: American Academy of Actuaries

PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum addressed the American Academy of Actuaries board last week. He applauded the academy's discussion paper, "Risky Business: Living Longer Without Income for Life," and encouraged the group to continue its lifetime income initiative. Gotbaum also discussed PBGC's efforts promoting sound retirement systems, and provided several ideas for how Congress, the public, and employers could each do their part to make sufficient lifetime income a reality.

In August, an analysis by the academy supported the methods used by PBGC to calculate the agency's financial position. "The Pension Committee of the American Academy of Actuaries believes the methods and assumptions used by the PBGC produce a reasonable representation of the PBGC's current obligation and deficit," the group said.

Editor's note: Portions of this blog post were reprinted from This Week with permission from the American Academy of Actuaries.

Message to HCTC Participants

  |   October 2, 2013

As we've previously mentioned on Retirement Matters, PBGC is not affected by the federal government shutdown. If you count on us for your pension benefit, you will be paid on time.

However, if you get your health care coverage through the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Health Care Tax Credit (HCTC) Program, you may be affected by the shutdown.  If you participate in the HCTC Program, please read the following message from the IRS HCTC Stakeholder Engagement Team:

10/1/13 - The IRS HCTC Program is operating with a significantly reduced staff and capacity during the current government shutdown. The HCTC Program will mail invoices and make payments to health plans for current Monthly Participants.  Please be sure your payment is received by the due date listed on your HCTC invoice. If you do not receive an invoice, please refer to a previous monthly invoice for your HCTC account number and consider making an online payment. You can also obtain a blank payment coupon on this website.

The HCTC Customer Contact Center will be closed.  If you have a health coverage or payment-related emergency you can call and leave a message at 1-855-379-0440; however please note that not all callers leaving a message at this number will receive service. This mailbox is being used to provide limited service to current monthly HCTC Participants only, who are facing an emergency health coverage or insurance payment issue.  We apologize, in advance, for our inability to provide greater service at this time. Thank you for your understanding.

When the federal government reopens, the HCTC Program will resume regular processing of all Registration Forms, Family Member Registration Forms, and Reimbursement Request Forms received by the October 1st cutoff for processing in advance of the 1/1/14 expiration of the Health Coverage Tax Credit.

Please note that PBGC does not have further information about HCTC coverage. If you have a question, please call the HCTC Customer Contact Center and leave a message at 1-855-379-0440.

Photo: PBGC Director, Joshua GotbaumShould the government shutdown, PBGC will stay open for business. All of us at PBGC—federal employees and contractors—will remain on the job. We will continue to pay benefits to the retirees who depend on us, to do our other work, and to honor our obligations.

This is not new. PBGC stayed open throughout the government shutdowns in 1995-96. That's because PBGC is different from most government agencies: Our funds are paid for by insurance premiums and plan assets, not taxpayer dollars.

As always, PBGC regards it as especially important to continue to do our work well, diligently, and with the dedication America's workers and retirees deserve.

Collage of images - a photo of the Euro currency symbol, a photo of Australia on a globe, and the Canadian flag

While the U.S. faces a retirement crisis, other countries have implemented programs that provide a better level of economic security in retirement. As compared to the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands provide higher retirement income for citizens through social security and universal/quasi-universal employer retirement plans.

These findings are in a new research brief, Lessons for Private Sector Retirement Security from Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands authored by John A. Turner, PhD, Pension Policy Center director, and Nari Rhee, PhD, National Institute of Retirement Security manager of research.

"Americans are struggling to save for retirement," says Rhee. "The typical family has only a few thousand dollars saved. Yet, other advanced countries are doing a far better job of enabling older populations to have economic security in retirement. We hope our research provides insight and ideas for U.S. policymakers working to improve Americans' economic insecurity." Download the full research brief.

The National Institute on Retirement Security originated the content of this post.

  1. Road sign with the words Retirement Ahead.Americans are deeply worried about retirement. Some 85 percent report that they are highly anxious about their retirement prospects. Read The Washington Post article, "Americans anxious about Retirement."
  2. Pensions are highly cost efficient. They can provide a given retirement benefit at about HALF the cost of an individual 401(k) account because pensions pool longevity risk and achieve better returns by investing for the long term. Read the report, "A Better Bang for the Buck: The Economic Efficiencies of Pensions."
  3. Pension benefits provide critical economic stability and accounted for a $1 trillion in economic output. In 2009, pensions supported some 6.5 million jobs. Read the report, "Pensionomics 2012: Measuring the Economic Impact of DB Pension Expenditures."
  4. Pensions reduce the risk of elder poverty and reduce public assistance costs. In 2010, older American households with pension income were nine times less likely to fall into poverty than those who had no pension income. Read the report, "The Pension Factor 2012: The Role of Pensions in Reducing Elder Economic Hardships."
  5. Americans overwhelmingly support Congressional action to provide all Americans with access to a new type of privately run pension plan. More than 90 percent would favor a new pension plan that is available to all Americans that is portable, and provides a monthly check in retirement. Read the report, "Pensions & Retirement Security 2013: A Roadmap for Policy Makers."

The National Institute on Retirement Security originated the content of this post.

Since the end of the recession more people are working for employers that offer retirement plans, and plan participation is up, according to a new report from the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute — but most workers still have no retirement plan.

The data in the report is from the U.S. Census Bureau's latest Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) on retirement plan participation, covering December 2011 to March 2012.

Some key takeaways are:

  • 61 percent of all workers over age 16 had an employer that sponsored a pension or retirement plan for employees in 2012, up from 59 percent in 2009.
  • Workers participating in a plan increased to 46 percent in 2012, up slightly from 2009 (45 percent) but below 2003 (48 percent).
  • The vesting rate (the percentage of workers who say they were entitled to some pension benefit or lump-sum distribution if they left their job) stood at 43 percent in 2012, up from 24 percent in 1979.
  • This change is largely due to the increased number of workers participating in defined contribution retirement plans (such as 401(k) plans), where employee contributions are immediately vested, and faster vesting requirements in private-sector pension plans.
  • 401(k)-type plans were considered the primary plan by 78 percent of workers with a plan. Defined benefit (pension) plans were the primary plan for 21 percent of workers.

Take a look at notes from the Retirement Plan Participation: Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Data, 2012