PBGC Assumes Easton Hospital Pension Plan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2007
WASHINGTON-The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) today announced it has assumed responsibility for the pensions of about 1,700 current and former employees of Easton Hospital, an acute-care teaching hospital in Easton, Pa.
The PBGC stepped in because the plan was unable to pay benefits when due and would be abandoned following the sale of all the hospital's assets. In October 2001, Easton Hospital sold its properties to Northampton Hospital Corp., a unit of Franklin, Tenn.-based CHS Community Health Systems. The transaction did not include the pension plan.
Easton Hospital retirees will continue to receive their monthly benefit checks without interruption, and other workers will receive their pensions when they are eligible to retire.
According to PBGC estimates, the Easton Hospital Employees' Pension Plan is 57 percent funded, with about $53 million in assets to cover some $93 million in benefit liabilities. The agency expects to be responsible for the entire $40 million shortfall.
The agency will take over the assets and use PBGC insurance funds to pay guaranteed benefits earned under the plan, which terminated on Dec. 31, 2005. The PBGC became trustee of the plan on Oct. 5, 2007. Assumption of the plan's unfunded liabilities will have no material effect on the PBGC's financial statements, according to generally accepted accounting principles.
Within the next several weeks, the PBGC will send notification letters to all plan participants. Under federal pension law, the maximum guaranteed pension at age 65 for participants in plans that terminated in 2005 is $45,614 per year. The maximum guaranteed amount is lower for those who retire earlier or elect survivor benefits. In addition, certain early retirement subsidies and benefit increases made within the past five years may not be fully guaranteed.
Workers and retirees with questions may consult the PBGC Web site, www.pbgc.gov or call 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 for 800-400-7242.
Retirees of Easton Hospital who draw a benefit from the PBGC may be eligible for the federal Health Coverage Tax Credit. Further information may be found on the PBGC Web site at http://www.pbgc.gov/workers-retirees/benefits-information/content/page13692.html.
The PBGC is a federal corporation created under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. It currently guarantees payment of basic pension benefits earned by 44 million American workers and retirees participating in over 30,000 private-sector defined benefit 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 by investment returns.
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PBGC No. 08-04