Photo provided courtesy of Drexel University's Earle Mack School of Law
From the Pension Rights Center:
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), the law governing private retirement plans, has changed quite a bit since it was signed into law in 1974. There have been numerous amendments, court cases, regulatory actions and other developments. ERISA has had such an impact on Americans' everyday lives that it has become a field of law unto itself.
ERISA buffs frequently come together to explore the law as it is now and to discuss how it impacts current and future retirees. But an in-depth exploration of ERISA's past is a much rarer occurrence. On October 25, 2013, lawyers, actuaries, and other professionals from all corners of the pension world gathered in Philadelphia for a unique, day-long discussion of the history behind the law. The topic? ERISA at 40 - What Were They Thinking? An Oral History of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.*
The symposium, hosted by Drexel University's Earle Mack School of Law and co-sponsored by the Pension Rights Center and the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, was organized by Norman Stein and James Wooten. Norman Stein is a Drexel University law professor and PRC Senior Policy Advisor and James Wooten is a professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and author of The Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974: A Political History. Participants in the symposium represented a Who's Who of ERISA, including Assistant Secretary of Labor of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Phyllis Borzi, and J. Mark Iwry, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Retirement and Health Policy. The symposium also featured several individuals with ties to the Pension Rights Center: PRC Board members Dan Halperin, Regina Jefferson, and Ian Lanoff; Fellows Dianne Bennett, Bill Bortz, Frank Cummings, Bob Nagle, and Henry Rose; and PRC's Director, Karen Ferguson.
The Wall Street Journal CFO Network Annual Meeting 2013 wrapped up last month. PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum participated in an interview session titled "The Great American Pension Crisis: Funding Past Promises and Future Retirement."
In his interview with Gabriella Stern, Deputy Managing Editor, WSJ Digital Network, Director Gotbaum focused on how U.S. companies will tackle mounting pension obligations in the coming years.
Dallas Salisbury, President and CEO, Employee Benefit Research Institute, also offered perspectives.
Take a look at the Dow Jones video recording of the interview. NOTE: The video may take a minute or two to fully load.
Often times, people don't know what the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is, or what we do. Unfortunately, many find out about us when we have to assume responsibility for their pension plans either by way of company bankruptcy or the company's inability to pay retirement benefits.
A quick history lesson: On September 2, 1974, President Ford signed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), creating a federal pension insurance program and an agency — the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation — to run it. The agency was created to encourage the continuation and maintenance of private-sector defined benefit pension plans, provide timely and uninterrupted payment of pension benefits, and keep pension insurance premiums at a minimum.
Now that you know how we got started, we'd like to tell you a little about how we operate.
As our director Josh Gotbaum likes to put it, PBGC is similar to the FDIC, but instead of protecting depositors of insured banks, we protect pensions.
FACT: We protect the retirement incomes of more than 44 million American workers in more than 27,500 private-sector defined benefit pension plans.
So, what's a defined benefit plan?
FACT: A defined benefit plan provides a specified monthly benefit at retirement, often based on a combination of salary and years of service.
FACT: We are not funded by general tax revenues.
So, how is the revenue generated?
FACT: We collect insurance premiums from employers that sponsor insured pension plans, earn money from investments, and receive funds from pension plans we take over.
Visit our Web site to learn more about who we are and how we operate.