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Friday, July 9, 2010

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC): A Fact Sheet

John J. Topoleski
Analyst in Income Security

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a federal government agency established in 1974 by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA; P.L. 93-406). It was created to protect the pensions of participants and beneficiaries covered by private sector, defined benefit (DB) plans. These pension plans provide a specified monthly benefit at retirement, usually either a percentage of salary or a flat dollar amount multiplied by years of service. Defined contribution plans, such as §401(k) plans, are not insured. The PBGC is chaired by the Secretary of Labor, with the Secretaries of Treasury and Commerce serving as board members.

The PBGC runs two distinct insurance programs: single-employer and multiemployer plans. Multiemployer plans are collectively bargained plans to which more than one company makes contributions. The PBGC maintains separate reserve funds for each program. In FY2009, the PBGC insured about 27,900 DB pension plans covering 33.6million people. It paid benefits to 1.3 million people, took in 144 newly terminated pension plans, and had about 201,000 new participants. A firm must be in financial distress to end an underfunded plan. Most workers in single-employer plans taken over by the PBGC receive the full benefit earned at the time of termination, but the ceiling on multiemployer plan benefits that could be guaranteed has left almost all of these retirees without full benefit protection.

Date of Report: June 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 7
Order Number: 95-118
Price: $19.95

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