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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

PBGC works to ensure that people who get benefits from us receive them on time — by the first of the month. However, there's one time when that doesn't happen — the beginning of the year.

Typically, if the first of the month falls on a weekend or holiday, direct deposits will usually post before the first of the month. For this reason, June, September, and December 2013 direct deposits arrived before the first of the month. For tax purposes, January is the exception to this rule.

If payments arrived in December, it would result in a tax liability for 2013 instead of 2014. For this reason, your funds will be deposited on Jan. 2, 2014, one day after the New Year.

If you get a paper check (mailed on Dec. 27, 2013), and have not received it by January 7, please call us at 1-800-400-7242 or visit our Contact Us page for other options.

Want to receive future payments more quickly? Remember, PBGC offers direct deposit. It's the most secure and fastest way to receive your payment, and your funds are always available on payday — even if the weather's bad, the post office is closed, or you're out of town. The future electronic direct deposit dates are already mapped out.

To learn more or sign up for direct deposit, please visit MyPBA or call 1-800-400-7242.

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1966 defined "marriage" as a "legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife" and a "spouse as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."

As a result, PBGC changed its policy to recognize same-sex marriages in our administration of benefits in terminated plans under the same rules applicable to opposite-sex marriages.

For a more detailed explanation of how PBGC recognizes marriage, please visit the "Benefits" section of our Workers & Retirees page. 

The legislation that authorizes the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) expires January 1, 2014, and the tax credit will no longer be available.

Some key dates in this program's expiration were/are:

October 1: the HCTC Program will no longer accept new registration forms for individuals or qualified family members who wish to be enrolled into the monthly HCTC program

December 24: The final monthly HCTC payment due date

January 1: HCTC expires

PBGC has a HCTC webpage that details some additional information. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also has a webpage dedicated to periodic updates with important information affecting the HCTC program

Case Study — Furniture Brands Retirement Plan

Often times, mergers and acquisitions happen while employees, both current and past, miss the memo. Mergers and acquisitions are both an aspect of corporate strategy, corporate finance and management dealing with the buying, selling, dividing and combining of different companies and similar entities that can help an enterprise grow.

By now you may be asking what all of this means and how it affects you. Well, we're glad you asked.

Today we announced that PBGC moved to terminate the Furniture Brands International Inc. pension plan. PBGC is stepping in because the company plans to sell the majority of its assets in bankruptcy and the buyer isn't assuming the pension plan.

While you may not realize that the company you work/worked for was previously bought out by Furniture Brands, this bankruptcy case can possibly affect your pension.

If you were ever employed by companies under the Furniture Brands umbrella, this news is for you.

See the full PBGC News Release and the list of pension plans acquired by Furniture Brands International Inc.

PBGC will pay retirement benefits for over 4,100 current and future retirees of Journal Register Company, a leader in local news and information in 10 states.

The agency stepped in because Journal Register Company and its subsidiary Journal Register East, Inc. (plan sponsor) filed voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on September 5, 2012. The companies sold the majority of their assets in bankruptcy proceedings and the buyer did not assume the company's single-employer pension plan.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by Journal Register retirees up to the legal limit of about $56,000 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, the Journal Register pension plan is 51 percent funded with $91.5 million in assets to pay $177.7 million in benefits. The agency expects to cover the $86.2 million shortfall.

For additional information, please email us at mypension@pbgc.gov or call 1-800-400-7242 (8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST, Monday – Friday) (TTY/ASCII: call 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 1-800-400-7242).

Maximum Yearly Guarantee. 2012 $56,000. 2013 $57,500. 2014 $59,320.Beginning in 2014, the maximum yearly guarantee for a 65-year-old retiree will be almost $59,320 – a 3.2% increase from the $57,500 rate in 2013.

Most retirees who get their pension from PBGC – almost 85 percent according to a 2006 study  – receive the full amount of their promised benefit. In some cases, retirees can receive more than the PBGC maximum guarantee.

The PBGC maximum guarantee is based on a formula prescribed by federal law. Yearly amounts are higher for people older than age 65 and lower for those who retire earlier or choose survivor benefits.

If a pension plan ends in 2014, but a retiree does not begin collecting benefits until a future year, the 2014 rates still apply. For plans that terminate as a result of bankruptcy, the maximum yearly rates are guided by the limits in effect on the day the bankruptcy started, not the day the plan ended.

The increase is not retroactive and applies only to single-employer pension plans. The maximum guarantee limit for participants in multiemployer plans is $12,870 with 30 years of service, which has been in place since 2001.

For more information, see PBGC's Maximum Monthly Guarantee Tables or a previous blog post "Making Sense of the Maximum Insurance Benefit."