Every day 10,000 people in the US turn 65 years old and many of them have been working hard all their lives and paying into and looking forward to their retirement pension plans.
But the pensions that cover more than 10 million American workers are in jeopardy because Congress is now considering a plan to protect employers rather than worker’s pensions.
Many retires covered by pensions could see significant cuts to their benefits. Yes, even people who are already retired and living on their fixed income pensions.
Evidently some companies have under-funded their pension plans and Congress has proposed, as part of a budget deal, a cut in cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security, veterans’ benefits and other programs. That would make retirees get poorer as they grow older.
Don’t seniors deserve better than having their benefits used as a bargaining chip in a budget debate?
State and local government pension plans are also under attack. In early December, a federal judge approved Detroit’s bankruptcy plan, endangering the pensions of retired firefighters, police officers and other city workers. Detroit is not alone. Recently, the city of Central Falls, R.I., cut pensions for workers by up to 55 percent in its bankruptcy proceeding. Rhode Island effectively ended COLAs for retirees in 2011. That could cut benefits for retirees by as much as 40 percent over the long term.
In the private sector, some companies have under-funded their pension plans, then declared bankruptcy and dumped their obligations on the doorstep of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (which insures pensions, often for a lesser amount than earned). Many of these companies will emerge from bankruptcy pension-free, while some pensioners will get less than they were promised.
What can you do about it? Contact your representative in Congress and let them know you won’t stand for this. You don’t see Congress talking about cutting their pensions. As it is, as of 2012, the base salary for all members of the U.S. House and Senate is $174,000 per year, plus benefits that includes health insurance and life insurance.
This year, Congress is scheduled to be in session just 137 days. Considering there are 365 days in a year, that means Congress gets 228 days off. Not bad vacation time.
And since 80% of Congress members are millionaires, they have more time to enjoy their vacations and their safe pensions. I guess they deserve it and we don’t.