Skip to main content

About PBGC

PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

How PBGC is changing the narrative on Retirement Security

From J. Jioni Palmer, Director, Communications and Public Affairs:

Photo of J. Jioni Palmer, Director of Communications & Public Affairs, CPAD

J. Jioni Palmer
Director of Communications & Public Affairs

I've always been fascinated by storytelling: The Harry Potter series, This American Life, Grimm, The Twilight Zone, The New Yorker and just about anything by Walter Mosely. Books, movies, radio, print or online periodicals, fact or fiction, it doesn't matter. Interesting characters and a compelling narrative rivet me.

I also particularly like watching commercials and I'm constantly amazed by the brilliance of ad writers who can develop the scene, introduce relatable characters and tell a complete story in 30 or 60 seconds. Beyond hawking products or pushing ideas, I find commercials offer interesting insights on the zeitgeist of a particular demographic, culture or society.

Today, in almost any hour of evening television, sandwiched between myriad commercials for insurance companies and the latest solution to make housecleaning a breeze, you'll see spots about encouraging the viewer to plan for retirement.

One really resonates with me because it echoes a true story we at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation tell a lot lately: people are living longer but retirement security isn't keeping pace. In the commercial, the narrator asks people to place a blue sticker along a timeline next to the age of the oldest person they've ever known. Not surprisingly, there are many dots ranging between 80 and 110. The spot closes with, "How do you make sure you have enough money to enjoy all of these years?"

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor PBGC endorses the products or services of the sponsor.

Since its inception in 1974, PBGC has been at the forefront of protecting the retirement security of the American people in defined-benefit pension plans offered by private companies. Now, most people probably don't know the agency exists, let alone think about us until the business they work for goes belly-up and they hear talk that the pension they've been looking forward to is about to evaporate.

Fortunately, PBGC does exist, and the safety net it provides allows most workers and retirees to keep the full promised benefit they've earned over many years.

More...

Looking Back...

  |   October 2, 2012

AA Cartoon image from Roger Schillerstrom

Recently, Business Insurance cartoonist Roger Schillerstrom published a montage of illustrations chronicling some of the highs and lows in the world of pensions over the past decade.

Our communications team also decided to document the agency's history by adding a cool new feature to the Facebook page — a photo movie. With pictures from day one, it highlights important milestones and behind-the-scenes efforts that protect America's pensions.

It's another short and simple way of telling our story.

Check out our Facebook movie timeline (link no longer available).

Photo Credit: Roger Schillerstrom, Business Insurance

Photo Caption: After the PBGC opposes American Airlines' plan to terminate its pension plans, the airline backtracks and agrees to freeze the plans instead, sparing the PBGC from what would have been its biggest-ever loss.

 

The Best-Saved Plans

  |   March 29, 2012

When the best-laid pension plans go away, PBGC is there to help. But the “best-saved plans” are the ones we never trustee.

When an employer proves it absolutely can’t keep its pension plan, PBGC steps in to pay retiree benefits, up to the limits set by law. But it’s a lot better for everybody—especially retirees—when a company can keep its own pension promises without having fall back on our guarantees. More...

Today marked a big victory for American Airlines’ workers and retirees. American has reversed course and decided to keep the pension plans of its non-pilot employees. The pension plans will be frozen, which means that workers won’t earn additional benefits going forward. But they’ll get every dime of the benefits they’ve already earned. When companies terminate plans, many people see pension cuts because of legal limits on the amount PBGC is allowed to pay. Here’s what PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum had to say: “It is great progress and good news that American recognizes it can reorganize successfully and preserve its employees’ pension plans. We’re also glad the company is willing to work with us to preserve their pilot plan too.”