WASHINGTON - The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation announced today the guarantee limits for single-employer plans that fail in 2019. The table below shows those limits for sample ages and forms of payment.
Single Life Annuity
Joint & 50% Survivor Annuity2
|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 for details including amounts for other ages and years.|
|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 PBGC’s Maximum Monthly Guarantee Tables website. The increase is not retroactive; payments to retirees whose plans failed before 2019 will not change.
Although the limits shown above generally apply for participants whose plans fail in 2019, if a plan fails in 2019 due to 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 2019 is about 3.5% higher than 2018’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 payment amount 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. Instead, the multiemployer guarantee 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, 75% coverage up to a second level, and no coverage beyond the second level.
About PBGC Insurance Programs
PBGC’s two insurance programs, Single-Employer and Multiemployer, are operated and financed separately. Assets of one program may not be used to pay obligations of the other.
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.
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.