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GM Pension Plan Update

GM disclosed April 7 that its plans were underfunded by more than $27 billion, with more than half of that being owed to U.S. workers and retirees. Across town, a post- bankrupt Chrysler faces its own pension shortfall. Moreover, a report last week from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) says the pension crisis in the auto industry could create an unprecedented crisis for the federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., a government-sponsored organization to backstop company pensions.

Could taxpayers really be on the hook for UAW pensions?

Yes. GM could face a funding crisis in 2013 or 2014 when, under the current projections, the automaker will be required to make more than $12 billion in contributions to its pension funds to keep them solvent, according to the GAO analysis. Chrysler's estimated future pension obligation is $3 billion. If the companies cannot meet their funding obligations they may have to terminate their plans, and the financial responsibilities (up to government limits) would be assumed by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. The funding could easily become a serious challenge for the PBGC, which says it is now facing $168 billion in possible plan terminations across a range of companies, many of them auto suppliers.

What happens to GM and Chrysler pensioners if the PBGC takes over the funds?

The retirees could face dramatic cuts. The PBGC promises a certain level of benefits, but $35 billion of the two automakers' promised pension benefits fall beyond the PBGC guarantees. In 2010, a single 65-year old retiree is guaranteed a maximum of $54,000 per year under the PBGC guidelines, and many GM retirees have earned benefits in excess of the PBGC limits.

Posted on Wednesday, April 28 by Registered CommenterWise Owl in | Comments Off