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PBGC Blog: Retirement Matters

PBGC will pay retirement benefits for more than 830 current and future retirees of Noble Health Systems Inc., which operates Noble Hospital, a 97-bed acute-care hospital in Westfield, Mass.

The agency stepped in because the hospital can't pay its pension obligations and remain in business.

PBGC will pay all pension benefits earned by the hospital's retirees up to the legal limit of $54,000 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.

According to PBGC estimates, as of April 15, 2011, the pension plan was 61 percent funded with $28 million in assets to pay $46 million in benefits. The agency expects to cover $17.8 million of the $17.9 million shortfall.

The company's pension plan ended on April 15, 2011, because at that time Noble Health had ended expectations among participants that they would continue to earn benefits.

PBGC can provide general information now and will be able to answer more detailed questions once it takes responsibility for the pension plan. Noble Health’s pension plan participants will be notified by letter after the transfer occurs.

For additional information, please 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), email us at mypension@pbgc.gov, or visit Noble Health System’s plan-specific webpage, PENSION PLAN FOR EMPLOYEES OF NOBLE HOSPITAL.

Additionally, Noble Health retirees who get their pension from PBGC may be eligible for the federal Health Coverage Tax Credit. For more information, see PBGC’s Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) FAQs.

Noble Health's patient population declined over the years leaving the hospital to cover its operating expenses with a patient base composed predominantly of Medicare or Medicaid patients, with the remainder composed of privately insured and self-pay customers.

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