Pension fund agency in $34B hole

Nov. 17, 2012 at 10:58 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The federal safety net for pension plans for private U.S. companies said its budget deficit hit a record $34 billion as of the end of its fiscal year.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which takes over private sector pension plans when they fail, has asked Congress to allow it to set its own premiums, "the way other government and private insurers do," agency Director Joshua Gothbaum said in a statement.

Congress has rebuffed PBGC's request to set its own premiums in the past, as this would raise the cost of the pension protection, which might force some businesses to close or to give up on their pension plans, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Congress, which determines rate hikes for the agency, has not raised PBGC rates in recent years, the Post said.

The agency is funded by insurance premiums, investments on $85 billion worth of assets and funds absorbed from bankrupt companies.

PBGC assets grew by $4 billion during the past fiscal year but its long-term liabilities grew by $12 billion.

"PBGC may face for the first time the need for taxpayer funds. That is a situation no one wants," Gothbaum said.

The deficit comes as an increasing number of Americans are concerned about retirement. A recent study by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research found 53 percent of Americans have retirement plans that will not support their current standard of living.

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