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Customer Service Fact Sheet

Background:

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, established by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, protects the pensions of workers and retirees in private-sector defined benefit pension plans. Created in 1974, PBGC administers two insurance programs that together protect the pensions of more than 40 million working people in nearly 26,000 active plans. Today, PBGC has responsibility for the pensions of 1.5 million people in more than 4,500 single-employer and multiemployer pension plans that could not pay promised benefits. PBGC pays $5.5 billion annually in pension benefits, either directly or through financial assistance to multiemployer plans. We finance our operations primarily through insurance premiums paid by the corporate sponsors of PBGC-insured pension plans and investment earnings. PBGC receives no funds from general tax revenues.

Who Are PBGC's Customers:

PBGC serves a range of customers with disparate interests and expectations. First are the 1.5 million people whose present and future pension benefits depend on the Corporation. Participants in plans now administered by PBGC depend on PBGC for their retirement security and expect quick, accurate benefit determinations and prompt, uninterrupted benefit payments. PBGC's customers also include the companies with PBGC-insured plans and the pension professionals who assist them. They expect PBGC to promptly and accurately process their premium payments, dispense reliable advice and rulings, and resolve issues affecting their plans quickly and responsively.

PBGC's Customer Service Philosophy:

In an era of rising customer expectations, it is not enough to merely meet customers' expectations; PBGC aims to surpass customers' expectations. Based on the best practices in the private sector, PBGC has adopted this approach to customer service: (1) identify customers; (2) ask customers what they want; (3) set standards so people know what to expect; and (4) measure and publicize the results.

Initiatives:

To help reach its service goals, PBGC instituted a "one call does it all" approach, which is reflected in the Corporation's Customer Service Pledge. This means that a customer has to make just one telephone call to PBGC to get any question answered or problem resolved. If PBGC does not have the answer immediately, the Corporation will call the customer back as soon as it has the answer.

The Corporation has made it easier for customers to get in touch by providing customer service centers with toll-free telephone numbers. As sources of additional help, PBGC also designated two problem resolution officers, one for plan participants and the other for companies and pension professionals, each of whom may be contacted by email. [To reach PBGC, participants may call 1-800-400-PBGC or email participant.pro@pbgc.gov; plan sponsors, plan administrators and pension professionals may call 1-800-736-2444 (or 202-326-4242 if in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area) or email practitioner.pro@pbgc.gov.]

For plan participants, PBGC has:

  • made it easier for people to apply for PBGC benefit payments through simpler procedures;
  • made publications and other written materials, including letters, easier to understand;
  • begun regular newsletters and more frequent communications to better inform people about PBGC activities and procedures;
  • provided important, easy-to-find information and Internet-based around-the-clock electronic service on its website;
  • provided a Missing Participant List on the Internet to help reunite people with "lost" pensions from former employers and a booklet, "Finding A Lost Pension," to help people search for missing or forgotten pensions; and
  • begun providing benefit estimates within 15 days of their request.

For companies with PBGC-insured plans, plan administrators, and pension professionals, PBGC has:

  • simplified procedures and eased deadlines for termination of fully funded plans;
  • issued a new publication to help small businesses understand the requirements of the pension insurance program;
  • changed the premium filing deadline so companies can submit their PBGC premium payment and annual information report for the Internal Revenue Service (Form 5500) on the same date using the same information;
  • accelerated processing of requests for premium refunds and waivers of premium penalties, made premium-related form letters easier to understand and provided an Internet-based around-the-clock service for filing and paying PBGC premiums electronically;
  • provided less burdensome penalties for late payment or underpayment of premiums and reduced penalties for plans that voluntarily self-correct errors in past payments;
  • introduced an electronic version of the reportable events form on its website that allows employers and plan administrators to complete and file the form by email;
  • simplified procedures for paying premiums and eased filing burdens on plan administrators; and
  • revised its criteria for taking action under the early warning program and published explicit guidance on the program's operation.

Through focus groups, surveys and meetings, PBGC has opened a continuing dialogue with all of its customers to find out what works and what needs improvement. During 2001, PBGC began participating in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to measure the satisfaction of participants in PBGC-trusteed plans with the service PBGC provides. PBGC's ACSI score for participant callers in 2012 was 87 and it was 89 for retirees receiving benefits from PBGC. In 2002, the Corporation began using ACSI to determine the satisfaction of pension practitioners. Its ACSI score for premium filers in 2012 was 76, a high score compared with other regulatory reporting agencies. Its ACSI scores for PBGC.gov, MyPBA (our online tool for participants) and My PAA (our online tool for plan administrators) were 71, 83, and 80, respectively.