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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

PBGC insures traditional pensions. So for years, we told people that we had nothing to do with defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s.

But we're also interested in the retirement security of all Americans. That's why we're considering a program that would deal with the benefits of missing participants in terminated defined contribution plans.

We're looking for feedback from participants, employers, and retirement experts on the value of developing such a program. We need input on the scope of the problem of missing participants and the need for PBGC to take in the benefits and look for people.

Also, we want to understand the value of a database where people can search for their benefits, and the impact that a PBGC program might have on private companies that perform similar services.

According to the Department of Labor, in 2010, the most recent year available, there were more than 650,000 defined contribution plans with 88 million people.  That same year, about 29,000 defined contribution plans, covering some 1.2 million people, terminated.

This effort would expand our finding an unclaimed pension search on the agency's website, where visitors can see if they're owed a traditional pension benefit from one of the failed plans PBGC assumed.

To make good decisions, and before we act, we're inviting the public to weigh in. You can submit your comments through reg.comments@pbgc.gov.

PBGC.gov Goes Mobile

  |   April 30, 2013

The new look of PBGC.gov on a mobile phone.Almost everyone has a smartphone or tablet, and many popular websites and web apps are available in mobile versions. Well now, so is PBGC.gov.

It doesn't require a special link or access code. Simply visit www.pbgc.gov from your smartphone and you'll be redirected to the mobile version housing some of our most visited pages on the site. From the PBGC mobile version, you have full access to much of the same content that appears on our desktop version, including:

  • Workers & Retirees
  • Practitioners
  • About
  • News
  • Blog
  • Rates

You can also perform searches and contact PBGC by phone or email with the simple click of a button.

If you want to opt out of viewing the site in the mobile format, that's simple too! Just click on the "Desktop Version" tab on the bottom of the screen.

Want to see how the mobile version of PBGC.gov looks? Go ahead, grab your smartphone, and visit www.pbgc.gov.

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.  

One of the most important ways PBGC protects retirement security is by working to preserve pensions, not just waiting until they fail. New Chief of Negotiations and Restructuring Sanford "Sandy" Rich will lead that effort.

Rich was selected to lead this department because he knows the inner workings of distressed trading, corporate restructuring, and investment banking; he has more than two decades of experience in the industry.

Now that we've given you a snippet of information about Sandy, allow him to introduce himself.

Check out his introductory video on YouTube.

A commonly asked question is how does PBGC determine how much a retiree receives? There's no simple explanation. The short answer is it's sort of complicated.  The longer, more detailed answer is that the amount a retiree receives is dependent on a multitude of factors specified by law, one of which is the maximum guarantee limit, which is adjusted yearly.

Common Misconception: The guarantee limit is often misunderstood to be the maximum benefit PBGC can pay retirees. However, that is not the case.

In many cases retirees receive benefits from PBGC in excess of the maximum guarantee. Whether a retiree receives more than the guarantee depends on a number of factors, including:

1. What the retiree's earned benefit was before the plan terminated

2. How long they've been retired when PBGC takes over

3. The plan's funded status at termination

4. Whether any other limitations apply

FACT: According to a 2006 study, about 85% of retirees who get their pension from PBGC receive their entire earned benefit.

FACT: The guarantee is lower for those who retire early or when there is a benefit for a survivor.

FACT: The guarantee is increased for those who retire after age 65.

Find out more about the maximum insurance benefit.

In anticipation of the potential for Hurricane Sandy to shut down payment processing centers, the agency started sending checks days ahead of our regular schedule.

About 140,000 benefit payment checks are sent from our offices to benefit payees on a monthly basis. With Hurricane Sandy making a strong impact in our region, there is some risk that delivery of those checks may be delayed.

What we're doing: We're seeking more detail about how far into the distribution process the checks got over the weekend. We're also monitoring the USPS website to assess the impact of Post Office closings to PBGC payees. We will also provide data to the Customer Contact Center (1-800-400-7242) if there are major impacts.

On the other hand, there are no delays for those with direct deposit. We strongly encourage everyone who receives their benefit via check to switch to direct deposit through MyPBA (My Pension Benefit Account).  It's timely, safe & secure.