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News & Policy

PBGC Takes Over Empire Steel Pensions

December 21, 2001

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) today announced it has taken over two pension plans covering more than 2,400 hourly and salaried employees of Empire Specialty Steel Co., a Dunkirk, N.Y. producer of bar, rod, wire and specialty alloys that closed in July.

"PBGC moved to take over these plans because Empire could no longer fund or administer them," said PBGC Executive Director Steven A. Kandarian. "Because of PBGC's action, the retirement benefits earned by these steelworkers are secure. And those already retired will see no interruption in their monthly checks."

Empire Specialty Steel was formed in 1999 from the assets of bankrupt AL Tech Specialty Steel Corp. Empire's two pension plans have total assets of nearly $137 million to cover benefits totaling around $144 million, according to PBGC estimates.

The Empire plans were terminated as of August 31, 2001. The maximum pension guaranteed for workers in plans that terminate in 2001 is $3,392.05 a month (or $40,704.60 a year) for persons retiring at age 65. The amounts are adjusted for retirees at other ages or those who elect survivor benefits. PBGC estimates that most workers will receive the same benefit they are entitled to receive under the plans.

Workers and retirees do not need to take any action. Anyone with questions about benefits or wishing to retire may contact PBGC's Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-800-400-7242. For TTY/TDD users, call the federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 800-400-7242.

PBGC is a federal corporation created under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to guarantee payment of basic pension benefits earned by more than 43 million American workers and retirees participating in private-sector defined benefit pension plans. PBGC insures nearly 38,000 pension plans. The agency receives no funds from general tax revenues. Operations are financed largely by insurance premiums paid by companies that sponsor pension plans and investment returns.

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PBGC No. 02-10