The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) protects the retirement incomes of over 34 million American workers in private sector defined benefit pension plans. A defined benefit plan provides a specified monthly benefit at retirement, often based on a combination of salary and years of service. PBGC was created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to encourage the continuation and maintenance of private sector defined benefit pension plans, provide timely and uninterrupted payment of pension benefits, and keep pension insurance premiums at a minimum.
PBGC is not funded by general tax revenues. PBGC collects insurance premiums from employers that sponsor insured pension plans, earns money from investments and receives funds from pension plans it takes over.
In fiscal year 2020, PBGC paid for monthly retirement benefits, up to a guaranteed maximum, for more than 984,000 retirees in more than 5,000 single-employer plans that cannot pay promised benefits. Including those who have not yet retired and participants in multiemployer plans receiving financial assistance, PBGC is responsible for the current and future pensions of more than 1.5 million people.
The maximum pension benefit guaranteed by PBGC is set by law and adjusted yearly. For plans that end in 2021, the maximum guarantee for workers who retire at age 65 is $72,409.08 yearly ($6,034.09 monthly). The guarantee is lower for those who retire early or when there is a benefit for a survivor. The guarantee is increased for those who retire after age 65.
PBGC is headed by a Director who is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Board of Directors consists of the Secretaries of Labor, Commerce and Treasury, with the Secretary of Labor as Chair.
In accordance with its Customer Service Plan, PBGC serves a range of customers with disparate interests and expectations.
First are the 1.5 million people to whom the agency pays or owes pension benefits, whether directly or through financial assistance to multiemployer plans. These participants in private-sector 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. These practitioners and plan administrators expect PBGC to promptly and accurately process their premium payments, dispense reliable advice and rulings, and resolve issues affecting their plans quickly and responsively. Practitioners include plan sponsors and pension professionals such as lawyers, accountants, and actuarial consultants.
PBGC also serves a range of customers interested in retirement planning and pension plans, such as:
- Federal Agencies and State Government
- General Public
- PBGC Employees and Contractors