The defined benefit pension plan system : financial problems and policy responses
Lang, Joel B.
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The defined benefit (DB) pension system that provides retirement security to 44.5 million Americans faces significant challenges. At the end of 2003, the system was underfunded by $350 billion, there were 82,696 fewer plans then during the system peak (in 1985), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) responsible for ensuring retirees receive their retirement benefits even after a plan terminates, reported a deficit of $11.49 billion. This thesis examines the challenges facing the DB pension plan system, beginning with an overview of the DB plan system, a review of the different plan types, the benefits received, and funding rules. Next, examining the PBGC, its purpose, its organization, and the role that it plays in the DB pension system. Followed by an identification of the challenges facing the pension plan system, and corporate America's frustrations with the system. Finally, the thesis presents some recent reform proposals, and provides corporate America's response to them. A changing workforce demanding leaner retirement options, plans that allow multiple career changes, provide beneficiaries with lump sum benefits, provide early vesting characteristics, and are easily understood, is challenging the future of the DB plan system. To survive the DB plan system must continue to change.
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