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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

'Don't Believe the Myths'

  |   December 10, 2012

Whether retirement is knocking on your door or decades away, you should have a financial plan in place to help you reach that milestone. Bloomberg Business News published an article that debunks some of the myths about retirement. As the article states, "We're living increasingly in a "yoyo" economy -- short for "you're on your own."

According to the article, here are some of the most common myths about retirement:

MYTH NO. 1: It's OK to postpone saving for retirement until other needs are taken care of.

MYTH NO. 2: Medicare will take care of almost all your health care needs.

MYTH NO. 3: You'll need far less income in retirement to maintain the same standard of living.

MYTH NO. 4: You can claim Social Security early and still get full benefits later.

MYTH NO. 5: You should rely heavily on bonds rather than stocks as you get older.

MYTH NO. 6: Any retirement target-date fund will allow you to "set it and forget it."

MYTH NO. 7: You'll be able to make up a savings shortfall by retiring later or working part-time in retirement.

Read the full article, "7 retirement planning myths debunked."

Weekly Pension News Round-Up

  |   November 30, 2012

Here's what made headlines this week in pension news:  

By way of the Associated Press, WTOP circulates "Federal agency takes over 2 RG Steel pension plans."

The Seattle Times runs "Don't jump for lump sum offer."

PBGC will pay retirement benefits for more than 1,300 current and future retirees of RG Steel, the nation's fourth-largest flat-rolled steel producer with steelmaking facilities located in Sparrows Point, Md.; Warren, Ohio, and Wheeling, W.Va. Additional finishing facilities are in Yorkville and Martins Ferry, Ohio.

RG Steel and its seven affiliates are liquidating in bankruptcy. PBGC has trusteed the two pension plans RG sponsored - the RG Steel Warren, LLC Hourly Employees Pension Plan ("Warren Plan") and the RG Steel Wheeling, LLC Pension Plan ("Wheeling Plan"). 

In bankruptcy, RG Steel has sold practically all of its assets.  Most of the buyers are liquidators, none of which assumed the pension plans.  PBGC initiated termination because of RG Steel's liquidation in bankruptcy and the forthcoming abandonment of the pension plans. More...

A commonly asked question is how does PBGC determine how much a retiree receives? There's no simple explanation. The short answer is it's sort of complicated.  The longer, more detailed answer is that the amount a retiree receives is dependent on a multitude of factors specified by law, one of which is the maximum guarantee limit, which is adjusted yearly.

Common Misconception: The guarantee limit is often misunderstood to be the maximum benefit PBGC can pay retirees. However, that is not the case.

In many cases retirees receive benefits from PBGC in excess of the maximum guarantee. Whether a retiree receives more than the guarantee depends on a number of factors, including:

1. What the retiree's earned benefit was before the plan terminated

2. How long they've been retired when PBGC takes over

3. The plan's funded status at termination

4. Whether any other limitations apply

FACT: According to a 2006 study, about 85% of retirees who get their pension from PBGC receive their entire earned benefit.

FACT: The guarantee is lower for those who retire early or when there is a benefit for a survivor.

FACT: The guarantee is increased for those who retire after age 65.

Find out more about the 2013 maximum insurance benefit.

PBGC Retirees ACSI Scores: 89 in 2008. 88 in 2009. 87 in 2010. 90 in 2011. 89 in 2012. Federal Goverment Aggregate: 69 in 2008. 69 in 2009. 65 in 2012. 67 in 2011.

PBGC's FY2012 Annual Report, released today, gives insight on the work we've been doing here at the agency. The roughly 120 page report covers the period that ended September 30, 2012.

The report kicks off with messages from the PBGC Board Chair, Hilda L. Solis and PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum, and highlights our great scores in customer service.

Retirees who rely on PBGC for their pension benefits rate the agency as one of the best in government.

We received a score of 89 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). That's 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).  For retirees, the ease of applying for benefits and the reliability of monthly payments are of high importance, and they gave us high ratings in both categories. 

Aside from our stand out customer service, the report also features:

    • Our efforts to Preserve Pensions at American Airlines and other companies
    • Our Insurance Programs
    • Our approach on curbing PBGC's Deficit

Ominous clouds

Today's reality is that Americans are deeply concerned about the future of their retirement. According to a recent Pew Research survey, 4-in-10 American adults aren't as confident about their finances for retirement as they were in 2009.

The survey highlighted 35 to 44-year-olds as the age group most concerned about their retirement.

Why the concern? An NBCNEWS.COM article said Americans started to feel pessimistic about their retirement futures beginning in 2009 following the nation’s economic collapse. The gloomy outlook worsened this year.

So, the question is — are you worried about retirement?

Read the full NBCNEWS.COM article and the Pew Research survey.