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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Retirement Lane street signMany companies still offer pensions — and with them, retirement income that you can't outlive.  Generation Xers and Millennials with in-demand skills can target jobs with pension plans — but what's the fallback?

Too many don't know. If we filled a room with all of Generation X and Y, and then separated the room in half,  less than half of the people on one side of the room would have made saving for their retirement a top priority, according to research from LIMRA, a research, consulting and professional development organization for insurance and financial services companies.

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‘What is a Pension?’

  |   April 17, 2013

PBGC protects pensions. So, what is a pension? To most people, a pension is a retirement arrangement in which your employer promises you a regular payment from the day you retire, for as long as you live. The amount of your pension usually depends on how long you worked for an employer and your salary with that employer. Ask a retiree, "What is a pension?" and they may say,

"A pension is the $400 per month I receive for my many years of service at Acme Widgets. My pension helps to supplement the $600 per month I receive from Social Security and my retirement savings."

Normally, employees must work for an employer for a certain time period before the benefits they have earned belong to them. After they have done so, they are considered "vested" in those benefits. Today, in some pension plans, you are fully vested after five years on the job. In others, it takes you seven years to become fully vested - but you become vested in increasing portions of your benefit starting at three years. If you've worked for more than one company long enough to become vested in multiple pension plans, you can receive more than one pension payment.

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Surveys: Tell Us the Truth

  |   April 15, 2013

So far, in fiscal year 2013, PBGC has surveyed around 10,000 folks, but what does it mean?

When PBGC comes into someone's life, it may be at a time when everything is broken. Customers have lost jobs, insurance, promise of a comfortable retirement. Death, disease, and disability may bring these trials to a crisis.  While the Corporation can't solve every customer's every problem, it can provide compassionate and responsive service to those who may feel cheated, abused, or simply discarded by the trusted employer who terminated a promised pension.

PBGC can and does measure how many benefit determinations we send out and how fast we issue benefit estimates, which is just part of the story. We won't know about our success in providing information through online sources and by delivering checks, until we hear from the person on the other end. Was it on time by your definition? Was it what you needed? Did we help you understand?

When you tell us the truth, you reveal the opportunities for a process that flows well and makes sense, a graphic that makes a complicated matter clear, a few words that provide assurance and restore a little bit of faith in humanity.

PBGC welcomes your feedback, your questions, and especially your ideas on how we can all work together to make those moments of beauty a more frequent reality for you the customer.

Big Apple logo.

PBGC will pay retirement benefits for more than 200 current and future retirees of Bill Johnson's Restaurants Inc. The eatery has five locations throughout Arizona.

The agency is stepping in because the pension plan doesn't have enough money to pay benefits when due. Also, Bill Johnson's is attempting to reorganize in bankruptcy proceedings and will likely abandon the plan when the case concludes leaving no one to administer benefits.

The restaurant chain operates under the Bill Johnson's Big Apple brand, and its retirement plan, the Defined Benefit Plan of Bill Johnson's Restaurants Inc., will end as of April 4, 2013.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by the company's retirees up to the legal limit of about $57,500 a year for a 65-year-old.

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Renting a new apartment?  Buying a house? Applying for benefits from a government agency?  If so, someone may ask you to prove your income. 

If you get a retirement benefit from PBGC, we'll be happy to verify the amount you receive.  Mail us your request in writing, and we'll send income verification to you or a third party (like a landlord or mortgage company).   

To protect your privacy, we have to be sure you authorize us to send out this information.  So you or the third party will have to follow a few simple steps.  You can find complete instructions on our Income Verification Procedures webpage.  

image of question marks

If you are new to the PBGC family, we know you have a lot of questions. Even if you've been with us for a while, changes in your life or something you hear in the latest news may raise more questions.

Chances are, if you're wondering about it, someone else is, too. That's why we keep an extensive list of FAQs (frequently asked questions) on our website.

From benefit payment options to PBGC's financial condition, we've got it covered. Just click on the link above to see it now.

For future reference, look for the FAQs in the top menu on the main page of PBGC.gov. And, if you are new to PBGC, check out "New to PBGC", a page designed especially for you. 

Still have questions? We're just a phone call or email away.