Sending Office: Honorable Tim Ryan
H.R. 2619: Prioritizing Our Workers Act
Prioritizing Unpaid Pension Benefits
Cosponsors: Carson, DeSaulnier, Garamendi, Holmes Norton, Kaptur, Levin (MI),
According to the PBGC, over 146,000 individual pensioners experienced cuts in pension benefits due in 2016 as a result of employer bankruptcies. These individuals chose to plan for their retirement but found their pension benefits taken away due to unbalanced
and unfair bankruptcy laws.
These workers who participate in defined benefit pension plans are making a conscious choice to plan for their futures and the futures of their families. By choosing to make contributions to a pension plan, they are electing to defer their hard-earned wages
in order to earn pension benefits for their retirement. Unfortunately, when employer sponsors of pension plans fail to make required contributions to these plans and those employers go bankrupt, workers and their families are often left holding the bag.
Current law provides a priority claim for unpaid pension contributions—but only for contributions due within 180 days before a bankruptcy filing, and only up to $10,000 per worker. And these claims must also compete with other priority claims for payment
from a limited estate in the event of an employer bankruptcy.
The Prioritizing Our Workers Act seeks to find a solution for these workers and their families by revising the priorities section of the bankruptcy code to place unpaid vested benefits in pension plans at the front of the line. To do this, it would re-define
all claims for unfunded vested benefits in defined benefit pension plan as “administrative expenses” of the estate, which, under bankruptcy law, must be paid before all other claims. Additionally, the bill puts pension benefits on the same level as bankruptcy
attorneys’ fees and other highest-priority claims that a company must pay out in full before paying any other claims.
Please join me in cosponsoring this important piece of legislation to ensure our nation’s workers’ pensions are prioritized, so they receive their hard-earned wages. For more information or to cosponsor, please contact Rachel Jenkins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
in my office.
Member of Congress
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