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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

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.

Weekly Pension News Round-Up

  |   November 2, 2012

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

After a speech at the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) Annual Conference, PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum was quoted in three articles:

Business Insurance publishes "American Airlines freezes its pension plans."

Washington Jewish Week prints "B'nai B'rith 170 years old and still strong."

In anticipation of the potential for Hurricane Sandy to shut down payment processing centers, the agency started sending checks days ahead of our regular schedule.

About 140,000 benefit payment checks are sent from our offices to benefit payees on a monthly basis. With Hurricane Sandy making a strong impact in our region, there is some risk that delivery of those checks may be delayed.

What we're doing: We're seeking more detail about how far into the distribution process the checks got over the weekend. We're also monitoring the USPS website to assess the impact of Post Office closings to PBGC payees. We will also provide data to the Customer Contact Center (1-800-400-7242) if there are major impacts.

On the other hand, there are no delays for those with direct deposit. We strongly encourage everyone who receives their benefit via check to switch to direct deposit through MyPBA (My Pension Benefit Account).  It's timely, safe & secure.

Weekly Pension News Round-Up

  |   October 26, 2012

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

Both Pensions & Investments and PLANSPONSOR.COM write about the Pension Rights Center in Pension Rights Center asks for moratorium on lump-sum payments and Pension Rights Center Wants Halt on De-Risking.”

The Wichita Business Journal publishes “PBGC files $2.8M tax lien against Hawker retirement contributor.”