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Questions and Answers for Participants in the Dean Foods Consolidated Pension Plan

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Last updated on November 6, 2020

On May 18, 2020, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation took responsibility as trustee for the defined benefit pension plan sponsored by Dean Foods Company. The Dean Foods Consolidated Pension Plan ended as of April 30, 2020. The plan covers nearly 10,000 workers and retirees of Dean Foods Company.

PBGC will update the following questions and answers about the Dean Foods Consolidated Pension Plan as more information becomes available.

PBGC is a federal agency created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to protect pension benefits in private sector defined benefit plans – the kind that typically pay a set monthly amount at retirement. If your pension plan is insured by PBGC and ends without sufficient money to pay all benefits, PBGC’s insurance program will pay you the benefit provided by your pension plan up to the limits set by law.

Yes. PBGC insures the Dean Foods Consolidated Pension Plan. The plan covers nearly 10,000 pension plan participants.

No. The Dean Foods Consolidated Pension Plan remained ongoing and under the responsibility of Dean Foods, until April 30, 2020. While underfunded pension plans may terminate during bankruptcy proceedings, a company’s bankruptcy filing by itself does not terminate a pension plan.

PBGC stepped in to become responsible for the pension plan because it was clear that Dean Foods’ continuation of the plan was no longer possible. PBGC and Dean Foods agreed to terminate the plan as of April 30, 2020, and transferred responsibility for the plan to PBGC.

When an underfunded pension plan is terminated and transferred to PBGC, we notify plan participants and beneficiaries and provide information about their plan and about PBGC.

If you are already receiving a pension benefit, your payments will continue without interruption in the annuity form you chose at retirement.

If you have not yet retired, your payments will begin when you become eligible and apply for pension benefits.

Workers, retirees and beneficiaries covered by the Dean Foods Consolidated Pension Plan should direct all pension benefit communication to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Customer Contact Center.

Visit our Contact Us webpage for more information.

At this time, benefits paid from the Dean Foods Consolidated Pension Plan are estimates of the amounts payable by PBGC. However, PBGC’s preliminary analysis shows that the majority of pension benefits provided under the Dean Foods Consolidated Pension Plan are fully guaranteed.

No. You cannot earn additional pension benefits under your plan after the date the plan terminates.

Note: For some groups of participants, the Dean Foods Consolidated Pension Plan plans were frozen for purposes of benefit accruals in 2002. Furthermore, PBGC’s guarantees are based on service earned as of the date Dean Foods Company entered into bankruptcy, November 12, 2019.

Some pension plans offer their participants lump sum payments for the full value of their pensions, but PBGC generally does not. PBGC pays benefits in monthly payments for life. However, if the total value of your benefit payable by PBGC is $5,000 or less and you have not started receiving monthly payments, you can receive a lump sum from PBGC.

 

Last Updated: August 30, 2021