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Deficit FAQs

What is the current financial status of the Multiemployer and Single-employer Insurance Programs?

A: PBGC's fiscal year 2016 annual report shows a financial deficit in its Multiemployer Program net position of $59 billion. PBGC's Single-employer Program shows a deficit of $21 billion.

     

FY 2016 Net Position
(as of September 30, 2016)

   Single-employer Program Multiemployer Program
Assets $97B $2B
Obligations $118B $61B
Deficit $21B $59B

   

What is the outlook for PBGC's financial deficit?

A: PBGC is currently in deficit for both the Multiemployer and Single-employer Programs, but their futures appear very different.

In PBGC's most recent Projections Report, we found that the Single-employer Program is likely, but not guaranteed, to come out of deficit over the next decade. Current projections show that it is more likely than not to be in surplus by 2025. However, PBGC's Multiemployer Program is more likely than not to run out of money by the end of 2025. There is considerable risk that it could run out before then.  

By law, the Multiemployer and Single-employer Programs are operated and financed separately. Assets from one program cannot be used to support the other program.

What is the difference between the Multiemployer Program and the Single-employer Program?

A: The Multiemployer Program covers private sector multiemployer defined benefit pension plans. Those are plans created through a collective bargaining agreement between two or more employers and a union.

After a multiemployer plan becomes insolvent, PBGC provides financial assistance to the plan so that the plan can keep running and pay guarantee amounts as set forth in the law. PBGC does not take over the administration of an insolvent multiemployer plan.

The guarantee amounts are not the same as in the Single-employer Program - they vary based on how many years of service you earned and the level of your pension accrual. The guarantee amounts that the law provides under the Multiemployer Program are  significantly lower than those for the Single-employer Program.  

The Single-employer Program covers most other private sector defined benefit pension plans. Most, but not all of them are sponsored by one employer. Some single-employer plans are collectively bargained and some are not. Some plans are not covered by PBGC insurance.

When an underfunded single-employer plan terminates, PBGC steps in to provide guaranteed benefits. In this type of termination, PBGC takes over the plan's assets, administration and payment of plan benefits up to the legal limits.

What will happen to my pension benefits if the Multiemployer Program runs out of money?

A: If PBGC's Multiemployer Program becomes insolvent, the only funds available to support benefits would be the premiums that continue to be paid by remaining multiemployer plans. As a result, our Multiemployer Program would be unable to pay guaranteed benefits at current levels.

If this happens, PBGC's multiemployer premium income will only provide retirees with a small fraction of their benefit.

Can anything be done to prevent the Multiemployer Program from becoming insolvent?

A: Some changes to the law will be needed to stabilize multiemployer pension plans and to extend the solvency of PBGC's Multiemployer Program.

PBGC is committed to working with Congress on long-term solutions.

Where does PBGC get its funds?

A: Operations are financed by insurance premiums set by Congress and paid by sponsors of defined benefit plans. We also earn investment income on those premiums. In addition, in the Single-employer Program, PBGC gets assets from trusteed pension plans, recoveries from the companies formerly responsible for the plans and income from the investment of those funds. PBGC receives no funds from general tax revenues.

How many people does PBGC insure?

A: PBGC guarantees the basic pension benefits of nearly 40 million people in private sector defined benefit pension plans.

  • The PBGC Multiemployer Program covers over 10 million workers and retirees in about 1,400 pension plans.
  • The PBGC Single-employer Program covers about 29 million workers and retirees in over 22,000 pension plans.