As we've previously mentioned on Retirement Matters, PBGC is not affected by the federal government shutdown. If you count on us for your pension benefit, you will be paid on time.
However, if you get your health care coverage through the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Health Care Tax Credit (HCTC) Program, you may be affected by the shutdown. If you participate in the HCTC Program, please read the following message from the IRS HCTC Stakeholder Engagement Team:
“10/1/13 - The IRS HCTC Program is operating with a significantly reduced staff and capacity during the current government shutdown. The HCTC Program will mail invoices and make payments to health plans for current Monthly Participants. Please be sure your payment is received by the due date listed on your HCTC invoice. If you do not receive an invoice, please refer to a previous monthly invoice for your HCTC account number and consider making an online payment. You can also obtain a blank payment coupon on this website.
“The HCTC Customer Contact Center will be closed. If you have a health coverage or payment-related emergency you can call and leave a message at 1-855-379-0440; however please note that not all callers leaving a message at this number will receive service. This mailbox is being used to provide limited service to current monthly HCTC Participants only, who are facing an emergency health coverage or insurance payment issue. We apologize, in advance, for our inability to provide greater service at this time. Thank you for your understanding.
“When the federal government reopens, the HCTC Program will resume regular processing of all Registration Forms, Family Member Registration Forms, and Reimbursement Request Forms received by the October 1st cutoff for processing in advance of the 1/1/14 expiration of the Health Coverage Tax Credit.”
Please note that PBGC does not have further information about HCTC coverage. If you have a question, please call the HCTC Customer Contact Center and leave a message at 1-855-379-0440.
Should the government shutdown, PBGC will stay open for business. All of us at PBGC—federal employees and contractors—will remain on the job. We will continue to pay benefits to the retirees who depend on us, to do our other work, and to honor our obligations.
This is not new. PBGC stayed open throughout the government shutdowns in 1995-96. That's because PBGC is different from most government agencies: Our funds are paid for by insurance premiums and plan assets, not taxpayer dollars.
As always, PBGC regards it as especially important to continue to do our work well, diligently, and with the dedication America's workers and retirees deserve.
While the U.S. faces a retirement crisis, other countries have implemented programs that provide a better level of economic security in retirement. As compared to the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands provide higher retirement income for citizens through social security and universal/quasi-universal employer retirement plans.
These findings are in a new research brief, Lessons for Private Sector Retirement Security from Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands authored by John A. Turner, PhD, Pension Policy Center director, and Nari Rhee, PhD, National Institute of Retirement Security manager of research.
"Americans are struggling to save for retirement," says Rhee. "The typical family has only a few thousand dollars saved. Yet, other advanced countries are doing a far better job of enabling older populations to have economic security in retirement. We hope our research provides insight and ideas for U.S. policymakers working to improve Americans' economic insecurity." Download the full research brief.
The National Institute on Retirement Security originated the content of this post.
Since the end of the recession more people are working for employers that offer retirement plans, and plan participation is up, according to a new report from the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute — but most workers still have no retirement plan.
The data in the report is from the U.S. Census Bureau's latest Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) on retirement plan participation, covering December 2011 to March 2012.
Some key takeaways are:
- 61 percent of all workers over age 16 had an employer that sponsored a pension or retirement plan for employees in 2012, up from 59 percent in 2009.
- Workers participating in a plan increased to 46 percent in 2012, up slightly from 2009 (45 percent) but below 2003 (48 percent).
- The vesting rate (the percentage of workers who say they were entitled to some pension benefit or lump-sum distribution if they left their job) stood at 43 percent in 2012, up from 24 percent in 1979.
- This change is largely due to the increased number of workers participating in defined contribution retirement plans (such as 401(k) plans), where employee contributions are immediately vested, and faster vesting requirements in private-sector pension plans.
- 401(k)-type plans were considered the primary plan by 78 percent of workers with a plan. Defined benefit (pension) plans were the primary plan for 21 percent of workers.
Take a look at notes from the Retirement Plan Participation: Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Data, 2012.
Last week, there was a Kodak moment that all of the company's employees and retirees could be proud of.
On Tuesday, Eastman Kodak Co., known for its iconic film business, ended a 20 month bankruptcy proceeding with its two pension plans intact. That means the nearly 63,000 people covered by those plans will have a more secure retirement.
When companies seek bankruptcy protection it doesn't automatically mean that plans will be shut down and come to us. During Kodak's bankruptcy, we were on the unsecured creditors committee and we worked with them to ensure the plans would continue.