Remarks by Karen Ferguson at the PBGC’s 40th anniversary forum (January 12, 2015)

Remarks by Karen Ferguson at the PBGC’s 40th anniversary forum (January 12, 2015)


On January 12, 2015, The Pension Rights Center co-sponsored a forum, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency that insures most private pension plans. PRC Director Karen Ferguson delivered the following remarks to open the event:


Welcome. The Pension Rights Center is absolutely delighted to co-sponsor this 40th anniversary event with the PBGC and the Chamber of Commerce. Although we differ on some issues, we all share a commitment to the voluntary private retirement system – and to making it work for working people.

Today is cause for great celebration – celebration of an extraordinary law and an extraordinary agency. 

As all of you know, the law was enacted to ensure that reasonable pension expectations would be met – to put an end to broken pension promises. And, at least until last month, the law has realized that objective to an amazing degree.

The PBGC’s mandate within the law is three-fold:

  • to ensure the uninterrupted payments to retirees;
  • to keep premiums at the lowest level consistent with carrying out its obligations under the law; and 
  • to encourage the continuation and maintenance of voluntary private pension plans. 

The PBGC has also been an astounding success in achieving its objectives.

Today we will look back to learn things about the law and about the PBGC that some of us may never have known – we may even learn how close we came to not having a PBGC at all.

And we will talk about the future – how to make sure that American workers will have a “predictable, secure income for life.”

I think we may find out this afternoon that concepts to achieve this objective have already been developed – for example, you may have read about the high marks that the American Academy of Actuaries recently gave to USA Retirement Funds and another innovative shared-risk plan design. 

What if a modest guarantee and a modest premium were to be added to these models? That might just assure both the retirement security of workers and the future of the PBGC.

The PBGC’s mandate to encourage the continuation of voluntary private pension plans puts it in a unique position to take the lead in pursuing these and other ideas. We hope very much hope that today’s conference will be a spur to encouraging the PBGC and all of you here to embark on this all important effort.

The need is great. As many of you know, the fear of running out of money in retirement is the #1 financial concern of Americans today.

Happy 40th anniversary to the PBGC and ERISA. We look forward to 40 more years of ensuring that pension promises are kept.

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