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Some pension plans in danger, others need flexibility: PBGC chief

Some pension plans in danger, others need flexibility: PBGC chief

In his last day as director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., Joshua Gotbaum warned of dire consequences unless Congress acts to shore up financially ailing multiemployer pension plans.

“Absent congressional action this year, multiemployer plans affecting millions probably will fail,” Mr. Gotbaum said Tuesday in a group email.

The comment came in the wake of a recent PBGC report warning that 175 multiemployer plans are in such financial trouble that it expects the plans to need money from the agency to pay participants' benefits.

That demand for financial assistance from the PBGC's insurance program “is more likely than not to run out of funds in eight years and highly likely to do so within 10 years,” the agency said in that report.

The nation's 1,400 multiemployer plans have about 10.4 million participants

Mr. Gotbaum, whose last day at the PBGC coincided with the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the 1974 law that established the PBGC, also called for more flexibility for single-employer pension plans.

Without being specific, Mr. Gotbaum said without greater flexibility, many more employers “will decide not to offer pensions, leaving responsibility for retirement security in the hands of individuals — who are often the ones least able to assure it.”

Mr. Gotbaum said he plans to return to private life in business or finance. Before joining the PBGC in 2010, he was an operating partner at private equity firm Blue Wolf Capital Management L.L.C. in New York.

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