November 17, 2012 in Business

Pension insurer runs record deficit

Marcy Gordon Associated Press
 

WASHINGTON – The federal agency that insures pensions for more than 40 million Americans last year ran the widest deficit in its 38-year history.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. said Friday that its deficit grew to $34 billion for the budget year that ended Sept. 30. That compares with a $26 billion shortfall in the previous year.

Pension obligations grew by $12 billion to $119 billion last year. Assets used to cover those obligations increased by only $4 billion, to $85 billion.

The agency has now run deficits for 10 straight years. The gap has grown wider in recent years because the weak economy has triggered more corporate bankruptcies and failed pension plans.

If the trend continues, the agency could struggle to pay benefits without an infusion of taxpayer funds.

Agency Director Josh Gotbaum said continued deficits “will ultimately threaten” the PBGC’s ability to pay pension benefits to retired workers.

“There’s no imminent threat that we’re going to stop cutting checks,” Gotbaum said during a conference call with reporters. However, he said, Congress must act “long before 10 years from now” to increase the insurance premiums that companies pay to the agency.

The Obama administration has proposed raising the premiums and tailoring them to the size of companies and their level of financial risk. Under the plan, bigger companies and those at greater risk of failing would pay larger premiums. The fees haven’t been raised in six years.

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus