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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1966 defined "marriage" as a "legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife" and a "spouse as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."

As a result, PBGC changed its policy to recognize same-sex marriages in our administration of benefits in terminated plans under the same rules applicable to opposite-sex marriages.

For a more detailed explanation of how PBGC recognizes marriage, please visit the "Benefits" section of our Workers & Retirees page. 

Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United StatesNew research from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) examines racial disparities in retirement readiness among working-age Americans and households.

The new report calculates the severity of the U.S. retirement security racial divide. The analysis finds that every racial group faces significant risks, but people of color face particularly severe challenges in preparing for retirement. Americans of color are significantly less likely than whites to have an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an individual retirement account (IRA), which substantially drives down the level of retirement savings.

Some of the key findings include:

1. Workers of color, in particular Latinos, are significantly less likely than White workers to be covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan—whether a 401(k) or defined benefit (DB) pension.

2. Households of color are far less likely to have dedicated retirement savings than White households of the same age. At the same time, coverage appears to be positively associated with the existence of dedicated household retirement savings in both groups. 

3. Households of color have substantially lower retirement savings than White households, even after controlling for age and income.

Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United States serves as a companion to NIRS' July 2013 study, The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think?, which documented a significant retirement savings gap among working-age households in the U.S.

Read the full NIRS report, Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United States.

The legislation that authorizes the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) expires January 1, 2014, and the tax credit will no longer be available.

Some key dates in this program's expiration were/are:

October 1: the HCTC Program will no longer accept new registration forms for individuals or qualified family members who wish to be enrolled into the monthly HCTC program

December 24: The final monthly HCTC payment due date

January 1: HCTC expires

PBGC has a HCTC webpage that details some additional information. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also has a webpage dedicated to periodic updates with important information affecting the HCTC program

Case Study — Furniture Brands Retirement Plan

Often times, mergers and acquisitions happen while employees, both current and past, miss the memo. Mergers and acquisitions are both an aspect of corporate strategy, corporate finance and management dealing with the buying, selling, dividing and combining of different companies and similar entities that can help an enterprise grow.

By now you may be asking what all of this means and how it affects you. Well, we're glad you asked.

Today we announced that PBGC moved to terminate the Furniture Brands International Inc. pension plan. PBGC is stepping in because the company plans to sell the majority of its assets in bankruptcy and the buyer isn't assuming the pension plan.

While you may not realize that the company you work/worked for was previously bought out by Furniture Brands, this bankruptcy case can possibly affect your pension.

If you were ever employed by companies under the Furniture Brands umbrella, this news is for you.

See the full PBGC News Release and the list of pension plans acquired by Furniture Brands International Inc.

Elizabeth Warren (AP Photo/Steven Senne)The retirement crisis is real and growing as millions of workers have less access to employer-sponsored plans and are saving less money. As a result, the opportunity of living a secure and comfortable retirement among many workers is gradually decreasing.

This crisis has not gone unnoticed. On Monday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spoke on the Senate floor about the need to address issues of retirement and social security. Throughout the speech, Warren reaffirmed the fact that the nation does face a retirement crisis, contrary to the belief of the Washington Post's recent editorial. Warren also called on Congress to strengthen Social Security rather than to cut benefits that many retirees depend on for their retirement.

As Warren said, "the conversation about retirement and Social Security benefits is not just a conversation about math. At its core, this is a conversation about our values."

Read the full text of the speech.

PBGC will pay retirement benefits for over 4,100 current and future retirees of Journal Register Company, a leader in local news and information in 10 states.

The agency stepped in because Journal Register Company and its subsidiary Journal Register East, Inc. (plan sponsor) filed voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on September 5, 2012. The companies sold the majority of their assets in bankruptcy proceedings and the buyer did not assume the company's single-employer pension plan.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by Journal Register retirees up to the legal limit of about $56,000 for a 65-year-old.

Retirees will continue to get benefits without interruption, and future retirees can apply for benefits as soon as they are eligible.

According to PBGC estimates, the Journal Register pension plan is 51 percent funded with $91.5 million in assets to pay $177.7 million in benefits. The agency expects to cover the $86.2 million shortfall.

For additional information, please email us at mypension@pbgc.gov or call 1-800-400-7242 (8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST, Monday – Friday) (TTY/ASCII: call 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 1-800-400-7242).