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PRC Perspectives Blog

Getting back on track

Posted by on January 13, 2009

At the Pension Rights Center our happiest moments come when people receive their pensions, sometimes after many years of trying. Thanks to the new Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008, signed into law on December 23rd, Rose Colon, a former spouse of a railroad retiree, will finally receive her survivor annuity. More...

The match game

Posted by Nancy Hwa on January 09, 2009

With the stock market tanking, people saving for retirement through their company's 401(k) plan have yet another reason to worry: more and more employers are suspending their 401(k) matching contributions. This means that some workers will no longer receive a dollar-for-dollar match from their employer for the money that they themselves contribute to their 401(k). More...

A 401(k) lesson learned

Posted by Joellen Leavelle on January 05, 2009

Some employers may have learned a lesson from the collapse of Enron and its devastating impact on the 401(k) accounts of its workers and retirees.  For years, Enron had matched employee contributions to their 401(k) plans with employer stock, instead of matching their contributions with money that the employees could invest themselves.  Even worse, Enron employees were prohibited from selling the company stock in their 401(k)s until they turned 50.  When the company went bankrupt, the stock lost nearly all of its value.  As a result, Enron employees and retirees lost a great deal of their retirement savings. More...

401(k) regrets

Posted by Joellen Leavelle on December 09, 2008

Some teachers in West Virginia have learned the hard way that traditional pensions end up paying better benefits than 401(k)-type plans. More...

Record profit yields underfunded pension

Posted by Rebecca Davis on November 18, 2008

A recent article in Financial Week revealed a big surprise.  ExxonMobil has the most underfunded defined benefit pension plan of all the S&P 500 companies.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A company yielding record profits has neglected to adequately fund its pension plan. According to the article, the ExxonMobil pension plan was funded at just above 80 percent at the beginning of 2008. More...

More broken promises

Posted by Joellen Leavelle on October 28, 2008

Last week General Motors announced plans to temporarily suspend the practice of making matching contributions to their employees' 401(k) accounts.  This cut, coupled with the impact of the reeling stock market, only adds to the sense of retirement insecurity felt by workers who have seen the nation's pension and 401(k) account balances plummet by as much as $2 trillion in the past year and a half.

Now, as the Washington Post points out, workers are increasingly finding that they will have to fend for themselves when it comes to their retirement security. More...

Current economic crisis helps make the case for guaranteed pensions

Posted by Joellen Leavelle on October 07, 2008

During the last few weeks, the Wall Street roller coaster has wreaked havoc on the economy and the retirement assets of the millions of American workers with 401(k) plans.

For workers who, like me, are relatively young and decades away from retiring, the current economic crisis doesn't make me terribly anxious about my 401(k). While the economic downturn concerns me, I'm not too worried because I have ample time to prepare for retirement. But I do admit that even I am too afraid to look at the balance in my 401(k) account!

But what about people who are closer to retirement age? 

More...

Radical thinking from...BusinessWeek?

Posted by Nancy Hwa on September 22, 2008

A timely and provocative op-ed by BusinessWeek's contributing economics editor Chris Farrell flatly states, "Keep Wall Street Out of the Retirement Business."  Farrell goes on to ask:

Question is, in light of the current turmoil in the financial markets, should Wall Street manage any of our long-term retirement savings funds? Is the 401(k) plan, which has become the main retirement savings vehicle for the American worker over the past three decades, a mistake? The case for rethinking the 401(k) as a pillar of retirement savings is compelling. More...

More on the meltdown

Posted by Nancy Hwa on September 19, 2008

What a week.  The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch's sale to Bank of America, and the government rescue of AIG were just the latest upheavals in this churning Subprime Summer.  I've been getting calls every day from reporters, wanting to interview people who are concerned about their 401(k) accounts.

People are right to be concerned.  For many American workers, a 401(k) account will be their only source of retirement income besides Social Security.  While one should expect market fluctuations to affect their account balances, no one likes to see their 401(k) take a nosedive. More...

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