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Sears' pension plans have more than a $1 billion deficit and have had so for years as they are only 64 percent funded, PBGC recently said.
That's one reason the PBGC exists in the first place: To protect pensioners.
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) says it intends to ask the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to extend, for an additional three years, its approval of the annual information collection for Form 5500 filing, required of defined benefit (DB) plan sponsors.
Pension insurance premiums that are paid by employers to the PBGC are included in the federal budget and are considered "on-budget." This gives the illusion that this revenue can be used for general government spending, even though these premiums cannot be allocated to other government programs besides the PBGC benefit pension plans, the senator explains.
Carol Buckmann, a counsel in the pension and benefits group at law firm Osler Hoskin & Harcourt, also noted a letter sent last fall to the Departments of Treasury and Labor, the PBGC, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by Democratic Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Ron Wyden of Oregon urging the agencies to review the effects of pension de-risking.
Supporters say that the reforms are the only way to prevent some large plans and PBGC's multiemployer pension guarantee system from going bankrupt, which could lead to even sharper pension losses.
If the deficit situation isn't remedied, the agency's 2014 report says, its "multi-employer" program "faces a greater than 50 percent chance of insolvency by 2022; that likelihood reaches 90 percent by 2025." In that event, it says, the only money the PBGC would have available to pay out would be from current premiums.
If a company goes bankrupt and is forced to terminate its pension plan, the PBGC will generally take over making sure that retirees continue to draw pension benefits, at least up to certain limits.
Lawmakers and the executive branch, Klein argued, "sometimes cite the PBGC's self-reported $36 billion deficit to justify new premium increases." However, he said the current PBGC deficit projection is "highly misleading and is based on both today's historically low interest rates and flawed assumptions by the PBGC in the way it determines its financial situation."
The liability provisions for "withdrawal" in MPPAA is also designed to protect the PBGC, as the guarantor of an underfunding liability; and
"If the sale were consummated, Verizon's pensioners would be without ERISA and PBGC guarantees," he adds.
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