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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Happy Labor Day from PBGC

  |   August 30, 2013

For more than 100 years, every Labor Day, America has celebrated working people's contributions. Labor Day is observed and celebrated in different ways all across the country by people in every walk of life. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

And after our working lives, we can continue to contribute to the country's strength and prosperity through secure retirements. When retirees can rely on their own secure retirement income, the economy wins, and that means workers win too.

PBGC wishes every American a safe and happy Labor Day. We reaffirm our commitment to protecting the more than 40 million American workers in private pension plans, to paying benefits for a million and a half people whose companies could not, and to fighting for American retirement security as part of every worker's American dream.

For a more in-depth look at the meaning of Labor Day, visit DOL's Labor Day 2013 webpage

American Retirement Savings Could be Much betterThe proposed Secure, Accessible, Flexible and Efficient (SAFE) Retirement Plan is outlined in the Center for American Progress's (CAP) report "American Retirement Savings Could Be Much Better." The SAFE Plan would combine elements of a traditional defined benefit pension — including regular lifetime payments in retirement, professional management, and pooled investing — with elements of a defined contribution plan, such as predictable costs for employers and portability for workers.

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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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With recent news of the Detroit bankruptcy, more people are asking about PBGC's role in public pensions. However, by law, PBGC doesn't insure state, county, or city plans.

While we insure most private-sector (non-governmental) pension plans, Congress has also defined exceptions that PBGC does not insure. But for more information about public pensions, please contact the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems

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.

PBGC will pay benefits for nearly 470 current and future retirees of Butzel Long, a law firm based in Detroit, Mich.

The agency stepped in because the firm would be unable to maintain its pension plan and remain in business.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by the law firm's retirees up to the legal limit of almost $57,500 a year 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.

Recent media reports have suggested that Butzel Long's plan was short by at least $10 million, but that estimate assumed the plan was ongoing. At PBGC, we measure funding on a termination basis, which often reveals a much higher shortfall.

According to our estimates, as of March 20, 2013 (the plan termination date), the pension plan was 47 percent funded with $34 million in assets to pay $73 million in benefits. The agency expects to cover most of the $39 million shortfall.

PBGC can provide general information now and will be able to answer more detailed questions once we receive the pension plan's records. Participants in Butzel Long's plan will be notified by letter after the transfer occurs.

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