Fighting de-risking at state level
You know and see that all of our pensions are at risk. Companies across the country are spinning off retiree pensions and cutting benefits. When companies de-risk your pension, they are taking away crucial federal protections from your hard-earned assets. That is why ProtectSeniors.Org is working tirelessly in state capitals to win legislation that will restore those protections and give back the guarantees that are lost.
Over the past few years, several major companies, including GM, Verizon, J.C. Penney, Kimberly Clark and more, have all de-risked retirees’ pensions. If your former employer de-risks your pension, you are dropped from the safety net you now enjoy under ERISA. That is why we urgently need state-level legislation to protect you against pension de-risking.
ProtectSeniors.Org has legislation in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts and we are drafting legislation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that would restore many of the protections you lose when your pension is de-risked. If you live in any of these states, we strongly encourage you to play a part and write to your elected officials about the importance of protections.
Here is where our legislative efforts stand in each state:
In 2015, ProtectSeniors.Org won a victory by helping pass a new law to protect de-risked assets against creditor claims. This law took effect in October 2015. Earlier this year we went back to advocate for even tougher protections for retirees.
HB 5445, “An Act Concerning the Purchase of An Annuity to Fund Pension Benefits,” which expanded upon the law which took effect in 2015, sought financial disclosures to retirees about the health of their de-risked assets and prevented future transfers of pension- annuities to any fiscally unhealthy entities. HB 5445 did not make it to the house floor for a vote, but plans are already underway to submit this bill again.
The New York legislation, S1092A/A6976B, would require companies that convert pensions to annuities to provide proper disclosures to all impacted retirees and prohibit the subsequent transfer of pension benefits without the approval by the New York State Superintendent of Financial Services. The legislation also provides significant creditor protections to retirees.
One of the New York’s most powerful elected officials, Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins, who serves as the Senate minority leader, recently spoke of the importance of the measure to retirees. The bill has been referred to the Insurance Committee chaired by Senator James Seward and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill for further action.
House Bill No. 776, “An act to amend the insurance law, in relation to providing protections to certain retirees from pension de-risking transactions” is currently in the Rules Committee. The proposed legislation would provide retirees with protections comparable to what they had under ERISA.
The bill also prohibits the subsequent transfer of the retirees’ pension benefits without the approval of the Insurance Commissioner that the insurer acquiring the group annuity contract has the financial strength to fulfill its long-term obligations to all retirees. Finally, it would grant retirees sufficient notice that a de-risking transaction is going to occur and it would give them the chance to opt for a lump sum payment instead.
Pennsylvania/ New Jersey:
Legislation providing protections to retirees from pension de-risking is being drafted for introduction in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Speak to us about how we can get the ball rolling in your state too.