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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Pennfield Corporation logoPBGC will pay retirement benefits for nearly 580 current and future retirees of Pennfield Corp., an animal feed mill based in Lancaster, Pa.

The agency stepped in because Pennfield sold the majority of its assets in bankruptcy proceedings to agribusiness giant Cargill, Inc. Cargill did not assume responsibility for the pension plan.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by Pennfield 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, Pennfield's plan was 54 percent funded with $15 million in assets to pay $28 million in benefits. The agency expects to cover the entire $13 million shortfall.

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Message to HCTC Participants

  |   October 2, 2013

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.

Photo: PBGC Director, Joshua GotbaumShould 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.

Kodak logo

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.

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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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Informational graphic with silhouette of call center representative on the right. The graph describes the responsibilities of the 70 team members mentioned in the article and the call volume received over the past two years, also mentioned in the article.

When retirees and workers wish to contact PBGC, they first turn to the Customer Contact Center, which does its best to answer every call.

The center is nestled in Kingstowne, Va., outside of the hustle and bustle of Washington. Its representatives are the agency's first responders, making sure no call goes unanswered.

The team of 70 comprised of two federal managers, 13 contact center leadership team members, and 55 customer service representatives, regularly communicate with the Corporation's Field Benefit Administrators (FBA), transferring participants' calls to the FBAs to ensure questions on benefit entitlement are answered. The center also transfers calls to the Corporation's lawyers when participants have inquiries regarding legal matters.

The number of calls received fluctuates each month. From 2010 to 2012, the center received an average of 521,000 calls yearly or about 2,000 every business day.

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