How much are public-sector pensions shrinking? Often, a lot

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You’d have to be living in a cave not to have heard that many states are bailing out struggling pension plans by cutting benefits. But how will that affect workers in these states? Researchers who have been sorting through the cuts say the picture isn’t pretty. Some 15 million state and local workers – about […]

The vanishing pension and its discontents

Dallas Salisbury, Employee Benefit Research Institute

If only we could revive the good old pension. You retire after 30 or 40 years at a company, get the gold watch, and the monthly checks start flowing. Many Americans still get those checks, but Corporate America has been running away from defined-benefit (DB) pensions for decades, and many experts see that as a […]

Corporate pension plans are healthier, but they’re still dying

Josh Gobtaum, director, Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

This should be good news: At a time when worry about the retirement security of American workers is rising, traditional pension plans finished 2013 in their best shape last year since the financial crisis of 2008. Yet that may only be setting the table for more corporations to stop offering them. The funding deficit of […]

Retirement confidence bounces back, but only among wealthy savers

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Americans who owned stocks in 2013 are feeling better about their retirement prospects than they did just a few years ago. For everyone else, not so much. The longest-running survey of American retirement sentiment shows confidence rose in 2013, the first increase since sentiment plunged following the Great Recession of 2008-2009. But the 2014 Retirement Confidence […]

When your pension sponsor talks about “derisking,” watch out

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A growing number of employers are making plans to “de-risk” their pension plans. That’s jargon for reducing the financial risk posed to corporate balance sheets by pension plans – but if you have a defined benefit pension and you start hearing that term tossed around, pay careful attention. Less risk for employers can mean more risk […]

It’s Save for Retirement Week – but it could be so much more

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Bet you didn’t know this is National Save for Retirement Week. Unless your boss is marking the occasion by herding the staff into retirement education seminars, it’s just another one of those manufactured calendar events that tend to fly right by us. There are other national awareness weeks in October – for fire prevention, school […]

Detroit’s pension crisis: What does it mean for other retirees?

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The news from Detroit is enough to rattle anyone relying on a traditional pension: an unprecedented bankruptcy filing by a major U.S. city that opens the door to possible sharp cuts in benefits. It’s still far from clear that the courts will let Detroit slash pension benefits as part of its bankruptcy filing. But is […]

Do no harm: Protecting retirees in shaky pension plans

We’ve all heard the physician’s Hippocratic oath: “First, do no harm.” But there’s a similar, less-well-known principle in the world of pensions: First, do no harm to retirees. When pension programs are changed, it’s almost unheard of to cut benefits for retirees in their seventies, eighties or beyond, who would have trouble adjusting to abrupt […]

Is $1 million enough to retire?

The New York Times carried a story earlier this month with the provocative headline For Retirees, a Million-Dollar Illusion. The story points out the difficult math facing retirees due to ultra-low interest rates, which make it tough to keep up with inflation with fixed-income investments. But the story leads us to an unfortunate — I […]