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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

Since the end of the recession more people are working for employers that offer retirement plans, and plan participation is up, according to a new report from the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute — but most workers still have no retirement plan.

The data in the report is from the U.S. Census Bureau's latest Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) on retirement plan participation, covering December 2011 to March 2012.

Some key takeaways are:

  • 61 percent of all workers over age 16 had an employer that sponsored a pension or retirement plan for employees in 2012, up from 59 percent in 2009.
  • Workers participating in a plan increased to 46 percent in 2012, up slightly from 2009 (45 percent) but below 2003 (48 percent).
  • The vesting rate (the percentage of workers who say they were entitled to some pension benefit or lump-sum distribution if they left their job) stood at 43 percent in 2012, up from 24 percent in 1979.
  • This change is largely due to the increased number of workers participating in defined contribution retirement plans (such as 401(k) plans), where employee contributions are immediately vested, and faster vesting requirements in private-sector pension plans.
  • 401(k)-type plans were considered the primary plan by 78 percent of workers with a plan. Defined benefit (pension) plans were the primary plan for 21 percent of workers.

Take a look at notes from the Retirement Plan Participation: Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Data, 2012

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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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