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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: A Fact Sheet

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: A Fact Sheet

Date: January 29, 2008
Creator: Topoleski, John J.
Description: The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a federal government agency established in 1974 by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) (P.L. 93- 406). It was created to protect the pensions of participants and beneficiaries covered by private sector, defined benefit (DB) plans. These pension plans provide a specified monthly benefit at retirement, usually either a percent of salary or a flat dollar amount multiplied by years of service. Defined contribution plans, such as §401(k) plans, are not insured. The PBGC is chaired by the Secretary of Labor, with the Secretaries of Treasury and Commerce serving as board members.
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Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

Date: January 14, 2008
Creator: Haltzel, Laura
Description: This report discusses the windfall elimination provision (WEP), which reduces the Social Security benefits of workers who also have pension benefits from employment not covered by Social Security. Its purpose is to remove an advantage these workers would otherwise receive because of Social Security’s benefit formula that favors workers with smaller amounts of Social Security-covered career earnings. Opponents contend that the provision is basically imprecise and often unfair.
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Federal Employee Retirement Programs: Budget and Trust Fund Issues

Federal Employee Retirement Programs: Budget and Trust Fund Issues

Date: March 14, 2007
Creator: Purcell, Patrick J.
Description: Retirement annuities for civilian federal employees are provided mainly through two programs: the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). These annuities are financed through a combination of employee contributions and payments made by the federal government to the civil service retirement trust fund. This report discusses the two programs, how they work, and how they are financed.
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Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

Date: March 8, 2007
Creator: Haltzel, Laura
Description: This report discusses the windfall elimination provision (WEP), which reduces the Social Security benefits of workers who also have pension benefits from employment not covered by Social Security. Its purpose is to remove an advantage these workers would otherwise receive because of Social Security’s benefit formula that favors workers with smaller amounts of Social Security-covered career earnings. Opponents contend that the provision is basically inaccurate and often unfair.
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Age Dependency Ratios and Social Security Solvency

Age Dependency Ratios and Social Security Solvency

Date: October 27, 2006
Creator: Shrestha, Laura B.
Description: As highlighted by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the aging of the (United States) population, hastened by the impending retirement of the huge baby-boom generation, has caused policy-makers to question whether the U.S. Social Security system can meet the demands for retirement benefits in the future. Because the current system largely pays benefits through taxes paid by current workers, the financial health of the system is sensitive to the ratio of dependents to workers—sometimes called the age dependency ratio or support ratio. Trends and projections of dependency ratios, including the relationship between both older (years 65 and older) and younger (under age 20) dependents to the working-age population in the United States are considered in the first section of this demographic report. Next, the United States is compared to nine other nations, including the seven other members of the G8. In the final section, policy implications of the changing dependent-to-worker ratios are considered in the context of pay-as-you-go (paygo) social security systems.
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Summary of the Pension Protection Act of 2006

Summary of the Pension Protection Act of 2006

Date: October 23, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick
Description: This report summarizes the main provisions of the Pension Protection Act (PPA) as they affect single-employer defined benefit plans, multiemployer defined benefit plans, and defined contribution plans.
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H.R. 4: The Pension Protection Act

H.R. 4: The Pension Protection Act

Date: September 27, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick
Description: This report discusses the Pension Protection Act (PPA) reforms and the funding rules for defined benefit pensions; requires employers to disclose more information about pension funding; restricts benefit payments and accruals in underfunded plans; and clarifies, prospectively, that cash balance pension plans do not violate legal prohibitions on age discrimination in employee benefits.
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Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends

Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends

Date: August 31, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick
Description: According to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS), the number of private-sector workers between the ages of 25 and 64 whose employer sponsored a retirement plan fell from 53.1 million in 2004 to 52.5 million in 2005. This report analyzes the Current Population Survey and describes several elements, including: 1) the percentage of workers whose employer sponsored a retirement plan; 2) the percentage of workers who participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan; 3) the likelihood of black, Hispanic, and other non-white workers to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan; and 4) the percentage of part-year or part-time workers in the private sector whose employer sponsored a retirement plan.
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Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends

Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends

Date: August 31, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick J
Description: None
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Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends

Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends

Date: August 31, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick J
Description: None
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The Retirement Savings Tax Credit: A Fact Sheet

The Retirement Savings Tax Credit: A Fact Sheet

Date: August 7, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick
Description: The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 authorized a non-refundable tax credit of up to $1,000 for eligible individuals who contribute to an IRA or an employer-sponsored retirement plan. The maximum credit is 50% of retirement contributions up to $2,000. This credit can reduce the amount of taxes owed, but the tax credit itself is non-refundable. The maximum credit is the lesser of either $1,000 or the tax that the individual would have owed without the credit. Eligibility is based on the taxpayer's adjusted gross income. The eligible income brackets are not indexed to inflation. Taxpayers under age 18 or who are full-time students are not eligible for the credit.
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Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Date: June 1, 2006
Creator: Henning, Charles A.
Description: The military retirement system includes benefits for retirement after an active or reserve military career, disability retirement, and survivor benefits for eligible survivors of deceased retirees. The change to the system that has generated the most recent legislative activity involves whether some or all military retirees should be allowed to receive both military retired pay and any VA disability compensation to which they are otherwise entitled; this is referred to as "concurrent receipt." Starting in 1999 (FY2000), provisions in each year's annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorized payments to comparatively small groups (in the tens of thousands) of military retirees in lieu of concurrent receipt. The most significant military retirement issue Congress dealt with in 2005 was whether military retirees with a 100% VA unemployability rating, but less than a 100% disability rating, should be entitled to full concurrent receipt as was provided to 100% disability retirees in 2004.
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Retirement Savings and Household Wealth: Trends from 2001 to 2004

Retirement Savings and Household Wealth: Trends from 2001 to 2004

Date: May 22, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick J
Description: None
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The Market for Retirement Annuities

The Market for Retirement Annuities

Date: May 18, 2006
Creator: Ranade, Neela K.
Description: A retirement annuity allows an individual to purchase a regular payment stream from an insurance company to last his lifetime. Despite the ability of the product to eliminate the risk that a retiree will outlive his assets, few retirement annuities have been sold in the individual market. In addition, the number of individuals who annuitize their defined contribution retirement plan balances remains small. New products are emerging that would offer alternate annuity designs and make annuity prices more attractive. This report discusses legislation has been proposed in the 109th Congress that would enhance the tax treatment of annuities and encourage the growth of stand-alone annuity and combined annuity and long-term care products.
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Periods of War

Periods of War

Date: May 1, 2006
Creator: Torreon, Barbara Salazar
Description: None
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Topics in Aging: Income of Americans Age 65 and Older, 1969 to 2004

Topics in Aging: Income of Americans Age 65 and Older, 1969 to 2004

Date: April 20, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick J & Whitman, Debra B
Description: None
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Topics in Aging: Income of Americans Age 65 and Older, 1969 to 2004

Topics in Aging: Income of Americans Age 65 and Older, 1969 to 2004

Date: April 20, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick J & Whitman, Debra B
Description: None
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Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Date: March 14, 2006
Creator: Henning, Charles A
Description: None
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Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Date: February 16, 2006
Creator: Henning, Charles A
Description: None
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Federal Employees: Pay and Pension Increases Since 1969

Federal Employees: Pay and Pension Increases Since 1969

Date: February 9, 2006
Creator: Purcell, Patrick J
Description: Pay increases for current federal employees and cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for retired federal employees often differ because they are based on changes in different economic variables. Increases in pay for civilian federal workers are indexed to wage and salary increases in the private-sector, as measured by the Employment Cost Index (ECI), while federal retirement and disability benefits are indexed to price increases as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This report discusses the procedures for determining such increases.
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Military Death Benefits: Status and Proposals

Military Death Benefits: Status and Proposals

Date: January 24, 2006
Creator: Burrelli, David F & Corwell, Jennifer R
Description: This report describes the various death benefits from the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Social Security available to certain survivors of members of the Armed Forces who die on active duty.
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Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Date: January 3, 2006
Creator: Henning, Charles A
Description: None
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Budget Reconciliation and the PBGC

Budget Reconciliation and the PBGC

Date: November 10, 2005
Creator: Renade, Neela K
Description: The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) posted a deficit of $23.5 billion as of the latest reporting period, and the deficit is expected to grow further. Major bills introduced in the 109th Congress to reform funding rules for the defined benefit pension system and to raise PBGC premiums include H.R. 2830 and S. 1783. Neither has yet passed the full House or Senate. PBGC premiums are an important source of revenue for meeting the budget reconciliation targets. The House Budget Committee has reported out H.R. 4241, a budget reconciliation package that would raise PBGC premiums. The Senate has passed S. 1932, a budget reconciliation package that also contains PBGC premium increases.
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Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Date: October 25, 2005
Creator: Henning, Charles A
Description: None
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