Bill Would Help Pilots Get More PBGC Benefits

May 13, 2011 ( - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Congressman George Miller (D-California) have introduced the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Pilots Equitable Treatment Act.

An Akaka news release said the legislation would provide fair pension benefits to pilots who are currently receiving a reduced pension because of a discrepancy between a former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule that required them to retire no later than age 60 and a PBGC requirement that they retire no earlier than age 65 to receive maximum retirement benefits.  As a result of this discrepancy, affected pilots’ retirement benefits are reduced by approximately one-third, according to the news release. 

The Fair Treatment of Experienced Pilots Act was signed into law on December 13, 2007, increasing the maximum age of retirement for pilots to 65.  However, this law does not help pilots who were required to retire before that date.  The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Pilots Equitable Treatment Act would direct the PBGC to calculate pension benefits based on retirement eligibility beginning at age 60 instead of age 65 for these retired pilots whose pensions were affected by the discrepancy. 

The bill would apply to pilots of ailing airlines whose pension plans have already been or may be assumed by the PBGC and who were prohibited from working as pilots at age 60 and older.  It applies to payments going forward and does not require a recalculation of past payments.

“Many pilots whose pension plans were taken over by the PBGC are unfairly penalized due to a conflict in aviation regulation and pension law,” said Senator Akaka, in the announcement.  “The PBGC requires pension beneficiaries to work until age 65 to receive their maximum retirement benefit, but the FAA required these pilots to retire at age 60.  This legislation will fix this conflict and end the unfair penalty affecting these pilots.”