Congress Will Redefine Future Of Retirement Benefits
By Jim Casey
News in the retiree arena is not often favorable but it sure never stops. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is on a path towards insolvency and benefit plans, particularly multi-employer benefit plans, are teetering. Corporations are shedding their pensions and retirees are holding the bag.
Now, Congressman John Kline (R-Minn.), Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, has presented a proposal to reform retirement plans in our nation going forward, as well as putting forward new measures to try to further shore up the PBGC and address the problem of failing pension plans. The proposal would allow employers more flexibility when it comes to contributing to their employees’ retirement plans and remove some of the protections offered for retirees by the PBGC.
These proposals taking shape in our nation’s capital will have major implications for the security of retirees and their families for now and for years to come. They will also determine the future of workers currently paying into defined benefit plans.
In February 2013, a group made up of union members and employers, organized by the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP), proposed giving failing multi-employer pension plans the ability to alter some retiree pensions and benefit levels in an effort to rescue them from going completely bust. The group also recommended creating a new type of retirement income called a “composite plan” that would provide a hybrid alternative somewhere between a defined benefit and a defined contribution plan.
Congress then passed and President Obama signed into law the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act, which implemented these recommendations. The new changes proposed by Rep. Kline would extend and expand upon that law, including new proposals for the PBGC.
The public comment period for these proposed measures is going on now. In other words, the future of retirement in America has and is now being debated and decided in Washington, D.C. and it is absolutely crucial that we maintain a seat at the table. ProtectSeniors.Org has been meeting with key members of Congress on these very types of issues, including the office of Rep. Kline and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the Congressional committee’s ranking member.
Earlier this year, ProtectSeniors.Org Special Counsel Edward Stone made an in-person presentation to PBGC Director W. Thomas Reeder, impressing upon him and his senior staff the threat that pension de-risking poses to retirees throughout this country. It is rare that an organization such as our own is able to meet with one-on-one some of the federal government’s top regulators. This type of ongoing advocacy is irreplaceable, as our retirement income hangs in the balance with each potential rule or regulatory change.
Equally important, a request that originated with ProtectSeniors.Org has been submitted by members of Congress for the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review our legislation, the Employee Benefits Protection Act (H.R. 1856), which would protect your earned healthcare benefits from being eliminated or cut.
Folks, the train is now leaving the station. The future blueprint of retirement protection is being defined and written. Our leaders in Washington are making decisions – right now – about what benefits you and your loved ones will receive or continue to maintain and how strong the protection of those benefits will be. We can’t afford to sit on the sidelines.
Get involved now. We are on the front lines fighting for you and we need your help. The ordinary citizen isn’t always heard in the halls of power but if we band together we can make our voices loud enough that they must hear us.
Join ProtectSeniors.Org today and together, we can help shape the future of our own retirement. For those who are already members of ProtectSeniors.Org, please seriously consider increasing your financial support. When retiree benefits are reduced, they never bounce back, and when benefits are lost they are gone forever. We cannot allow that to happen. Help us to help you.