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PBGC's Guarantees for Single-Employer Pension Plans

What Benefits Are Guaranteed by PBGC in Single-Employer Pension Plans?

PBGC guarantees basic pension benefits, including:

  • Pension benefits at normal retirement age
  • Most early retirement benefits
  • Disability benefits (see exception below)
  • Annuity benefits for survivors of plan participants

PBGC does not guarantee:

  • Health or welfare benefits
  • Life insurance
  • Vacation pay
  • Severance pay
  • Benefits payable because of disability that occurs after the guarantees take effect

To learn more about guaranteed benefits, visit our Guaranteed Benefits page.

When Does PBGC Step In and Pay Benefits?

It's always best for a company to keep its own pension promises. Generally, PBGC steps in and pays benefits:

  • If a sponsoring company seeking to reorganize in bankruptcy proves that it cannot remain in business and continue funding the pension plan 
  • If a plan runs out of money to pay benefits due
  • If a sponsoring company files for liquidation (as opposed to reorganization)

When a pension plan fails, all additional benefit accruals cease. To learn more about plan terminations, and other times that PBGC may step in and pay benefits, please see our Plan Termination Fact Sheet.

How Does PBGC Calculate Retirement Benefits in a Trusteed Plan?

  • The individual pension plan's terms determine the benefits paid, up to certain limits:
  • It is possible to get more than the maximum guarantee, based on the assets the pension plan has when PBGC becomes responsible
  • To learn more about how PBGC calculates benefits, please see our Priority Categories page.

Eligibility for Benefits from PBGC:

A participant who is not yet receiving payments from a terminated plan can begin receiving benefits at the plan's normal retirement date. A participant who met all plan requirements for early retirement on the plan's termination date can start early retirement payments after reaching early retirement age.