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PBGC Guarantee Limit for Single-Employer Plans Increases for 2018

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PBGC Guarantee Limit for Single-Employer Plans Increases for 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 30, 2017

WASHINGTON - The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation announced today the guarantee limits for single-employer plans that fail in 2018.  The following table shows those limits for sample ages and payment forms.

Applicable
Age1
Annual Maximum
Single Life Annuity
Annual Maximum
Joint & 50% Survivor Annuity2
70 $107,975 $97,178
65 $65,045 $58,541
60 $42,279 $38,052
55 $29,270 $26,343
1In general, this is the age PBGC starts paying the benefit, but special rules apply for plans that fail while the sponsor is in bankruptcy.  See Maximum Monthly Guarantee Tables webpage for details.
2Assumes both spouses are the same age. Different amounts apply if that is not the case.
 

Amounts for other ages and other years are posted on a table on PBGC's website. The increase is not retroactive; payments to retirees whose plans failed before 2018 will not change. 

Although the limits shown above generally apply for participants whose plans fail in 2018, if a plan fails in 2018 during a plan sponsor’s bankruptcy that began in an earlier year, the limits in effect for that earlier year apply.

The guarantee for multiemployer plans has not changed.

Single-employer Plan Guarantee Limit

The guarantee limit is a cap on what PBGC guarantees, not on what PBGC pays. In some cases, PBGC pays more than the guarantee limit.  Whether that happens depends on the retiree's age and how much money the plan had when it terminated.

The single-employer guarantee formula provides for:

  • Periodic increases in the amount of the guarantee for plans terminating in different years. 
    • The annual changes are linked to increases in wage base information issued by the Social Security Administration. 
    • The guarantee limit for 2018 is about 1% higher than 2017’s limit.
  • Adjustments based on the participant’s age and adjustments for retirees who choose a payment form that continues payments to a beneficiary after the retiree's death.

In most cases, the single-employer PBGC guarantee limit is larger than the pension earned by people in such plans. In fact, according to a 2006 study, almost 85% of retirees receiving PBGC benefits at that time received the full amount of their earned benefit. (For more information see the entry "Making Sense of the Maximum Insurance Benefit" in PBGC blog, Retirement Matters.) 

For more information about how the single-employer guarantee works, see PBGC's fact sheet Pension Guarantees.

Multiemployer Plan Guarantee Limit

The PBGC maximum guarantee for participants in multiemployer plans is also based on a formula prescribed by federal law. Unlike the single-employer formula, the multiemployer guarantee is not indexed (i.e., it remains the same from year to year) and does not vary based on the retiree's age or payment form. Unlike the single-employer formula, it varies based on the retiree's length of service. In addition, the multiemployer guarantee structure has two tiers, providing 100% coverage up to a certain level and 75% coverage up to a second level. For example: for a participant who retires with:

  • 20 years of service, the current annual limit is 100% of the first $2,640 and 75% of the next $7,920 for a total guarantee of $8,580 per year.
  • 35 years of service, the annual limit is 100% of the first $4,620 and 75% of the next $13,860 for a total guarantee of $15,015 per year.

The multiemployer guarantee limit has been in place since 2001.

For more information about how the multiemployer guarantee works, see PBGC's fact sheet Pension Guarantees.

Single-employer Plans and Multiemployer Plans

The PBGC guarantee limit is not the only factor that distinguishes PBGC’s Single-employer and Multiemployer Programs. PBGC runs two separate pension insurance programs: single-employer and multiemployer. While each program is designed to protect pension benefits when plans fail, they differ significantly in the level of benefits guaranteed, the insurable event that triggers the guarantee, and premiums paid by insured plans. By law, the two programs are financially separate.  Assets of one program may not be used to pay obligations of the other.   For more information about the differences between the two, see the related PBGC Retirement Matters blog entry: PBGC’s Two Pension Insurance Programs: Single-Employer and Multiemployer.

About PBGC

PBGC protects the pension benefits of nearly 40 million Americans in private-sector pension plans. The agency operates two separate insurance programs — one covering pension plans sponsored by a single employer and another covering multiemployer pension plans, which are sponsored by more than one employer and maintained under collective bargaining agreements. PBGC is currently responsible for the benefits of about 1.5 million people in failed pension plans. PBGC receives no taxpayer dollars. Its operations are financed by insurance premiums, investment income, and, for the single-employer program, assets and recoveries from failed single-employer plans. For more information, visit PBGC.gov.

PBGC Number: 
17-08
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