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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

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  |   August 29, 2013

twitter logo: light-blue background with the outline of a white bird in the centerSee the string of messages in the lower right-hand corner of this blog page? That's PBGC's Twitter feed. You can easily access the full feed on Twitter by clicking the famous Twitter bird under "Follow PBGC" to the right.

We use Twitter to spotlight our day-to-day efforts to protect pensions. When you follow us, you'll get quick bits of information to keep you in the know about PBGC. And each day you'll find a new fact about pensions, a link to a relevant article, or a news update about retirement security.

If you're among the more than 800,000 retirees who rely on PBGC for monthly income, you'll be first to get a link to your retiree newsletter.

If you work in the pension field, we'll tweet our monthly interest rates, premium filing updates, and news of important regulatory changes.

If you like one of our tweets and want to share it with friends, please favorite the tweet or simply retweet it, and help us spread the word as we work to save America's pensions.

Follow us at https://twitter.com/USPBGC

American Retirement Savings Could be Much betterThe proposed Secure, Accessible, Flexible and Efficient (SAFE) Retirement Plan is outlined in the Center for American Progress's (CAP) report "American Retirement Savings Could Be Much Better." The SAFE Plan would combine elements of a traditional defined benefit pension — including regular lifetime payments in retirement, professional management, and pooled investing — with elements of a defined contribution plan, such as predictable costs for employers and portability for workers.

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Allied Systems Holdings Inc. logoPBGC will pay retirement benefits for more than 650 current and future retirees of Allied Systems Holdings Inc., a vehicle transportation business based in Atlanta, Ga.

The agency stepped in because Allied Systems is selling the majority of its assets in bankruptcy proceedings and potential buyers haven't agreed to continue the company's three single-employer pension plans.

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

Retirees will continue to get benefits without interruption, and future retirees can apply for benefits as soon as they are eligible.

According to PBGC estimates, Allied Systems plans are collectively 58 percent funded with $45 million in assets to pay $78 million in benefits. The agency expects to cover the entire $33 million shortfall.

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MyPBA  (My Pension Benefit Account) is our secure online service that lets you, the participant, handle certain common transactions with PBGC.

Participants in PBGC-trusteed plans can use PBGC's fast, free, and secure online service tool to apply for pension benefits, update contact information, adjust federal income tax withholding, and more.

Since generations accustomed to using technology are joining the ranks of retirees, this helps PBGC in enhancing technological resources, making your interactions with PBGC easier and more user-friendly.  

The old system, which came online around 2004, has been decommissioned, while the new MyPBA recently got a facelift complete with features designed to give participants a more convenient option to calling the agency's Customer Contact Center.

Some of the new and improved items include:

  • login
  • registration
  • email communications

About 250,000 participants with MyPBA accounts are expected to use the new MyPBA system at some time in the future.

But, if you wish to call PBGC's Customer Contact Center, we'd still like to hear from you!

Right now, the Powerball jackpot stands at $425 million, but whoever wins it will probably be broke within a few years. That's what happens to 70% of winners, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.

That made us think about retirement. (We know, we know... what doesn't?)

Lottery winners can choose to take annual payments, pay lower taxes on their newfound windfalls, and have 30 years before worrying about running out of money. But research shows that the vast majority of winners choose to take a windfall lump sum instead.

But those who take the lump sum apparently don't "invest" it so wisely.

So if you're the lucky Powerball winner, unless you plan to keep your job, think twice about how to fund your retirement, and whether to take your winnings all at once. Remember, that gigantic pot of money has to last your whole life, not just a few years.

And even if you don't win the lottery, beware of a lump sum of whatever size. It may look good now, but you take on the risk that you'll outlive it. Most folks do better with guaranteed income.

Brown gavel sitting on a wood blockThings looked bleak last year for plan funding when a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts said private equity firms didn't operate as trades or businesses, but passive investors in the companies they own. If the ruling was left intact, it would have created a major loophole in this kind of liability for private equity funds connected to pension plans.

At the time, the court considered whether two funds managed by private equity firm Sun Capital were responsible for $4.5 million in withdrawal liability after their company, Scott Brass, a Rhode Island-based metal fabricator, left the New England Teamsters multiemployer plan.

Such distinctions are important because entities engaged in a trade or businesses may be responsible for pension shortfalls in single employer plans and for withdrawal liability in multiemployer plans.

Earlier this year, the Teamsters asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals to revisit the issue and PBGC filed a friend of the court brief supporting their cause.

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