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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Did you recently receive an Annual Funding Notice? Wondering what it means?

Annual Funding Notices keep you (pension plan participants) informed about the financial status of your pension plan.

Now, you're probably wondering why you received the letter. The answer is simple. You received the letter because employers are required to send an Annual Funding Notice each year to everyone covered by their pension plan.

The notice provides you with information about:

  • How well your pension plan is funded
  • The value of your pension plan's assets and liabilities
  • How your pension plan's assets are invested
  • The legal limits on how much PBGC can pay if your pension plan ends

The bottom line is there is no need to panic. The notice does not mean that your pension plan is ending or that PBGC is taking over payment of your benefit. While PBGC insures your pension, the pension plan remains under the sponsorship of your employer. PBGC does not have any specific information about your benefit.

For questions about your funding notice, pension plan, or individual benefit, please contact your pension plan administrator, not PBGC. PBGC only has information about pension plans that have ended. You can find contact information for the pension plan administrator in the annual funding notice or through the employer sponsoring the plan, typically via the human resources office.

Additional information is available on our Annual Funding Notice for Defined Benefit Pension Plans page. 

Constar Logo

PBGC will pay retirement benefits for more than 4,400 current and future retirees of Constar Inc., a plastic container manufacturer based in Trevose, Pa. just outside Philadelphia.

The agency stepped in because the company is selling the majority of its assets in bankruptcy proceedings and the buyer isn't assuming responsibility for the pension plan.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by Constar's retirees up to the legal limit of about $59,320 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.

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Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United StatesNew research from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) examines racial disparities in retirement readiness among working-age Americans and households.

The new report calculates the severity of the U.S. retirement security racial divide. The analysis finds that every racial group faces significant risks, but people of color face particularly severe challenges in preparing for retirement. Americans of color are significantly less likely than whites to have an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an individual retirement account (IRA), which substantially drives down the level of retirement savings.

Some of the key findings include:

1. Workers of color, in particular Latinos, are significantly less likely than White workers to be covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan—whether a 401(k) or defined benefit (DB) pension.

2. Households of color are far less likely to have dedicated retirement savings than White households of the same age. At the same time, coverage appears to be positively associated with the existence of dedicated household retirement savings in both groups. 

3. Households of color have substantially lower retirement savings than White households, even after controlling for age and income.

Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United States serves as a companion to NIRS' July 2013 study, The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think?, which documented a significant retirement savings gap among working-age households in the U.S.

Read the full NIRS report, Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United States.

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).

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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