Only YOU Can Protect Your Pension and 401k

Gwen Garrison |

I rarely do anything deliberately to scare clients. This is only the second time in 23 years that I have done this.

But I am writing to you now to scare you into taking action:  I want you to THINK about how to best take care of yourself.

I desperately hope you will take this very seriously and share this with anyone else who might need to see it. I want you to read a book and then think about it. If needed, I want you to call us so we can help you. If you cannot bring yourself to read a book right now, in the middle of a pandemic and financial crisis, call us anyway.

In her book “Downhill From Here: Retirement Insecurity In the Age of Inequality”, Katherine Newman tells chilling stories of how everyday working people were robbed of retirement benefits by businesses and governments scrambling to survive financial crisis. I highly recommend that you read this book and then look at your own situation with new eyes. Then act on what you have learned.

Here’s the gist of it: In past financial crisis, many airlines went bankrupt or merged with other airlines. In these bankruptcies and mergers, pensions were cut and are now administered by the PBGC, a semi-government agency, and they often provide less than half the benefits originally promised.

Downhill From Here presents example after example of companies facing financial disaster who took care of executives by taking money set aside for retirement benefits for the rank and file employees. Governments, such as cities and counties who rely on tax revenue, also were guilty of the same tactics. Today’s economic crisis, paired with unprecedented expenses for coronavirus healthcare and management, already shows huge shortfalls for federal, state, and municipal governments.

If you or someone you love plan to retire in the next year or so, and your employer is facing a financial crisis, let us help you examine your options. Perhaps you would be better off to take a lump sum retirement now and invest it in a product with a guaranteed income, rather than take a chance on losing those funds in an employer fiasco. The income lost by retiring a little early may pale in comparison to what you have at stake financially.

Likewise, you may have a substantial 401K or 403b and your employer allows “in-service distributions,” – a fancy name for taking your money out before you leave your job. If so, we can look at how to preserve those funds from loss yet keep some opportunity for growth, rather than leaving 100% of them at risk in the market. Almost no 401k plans or 403b plans provide any opportunity to protect your retirement funds in this way. You can only do this if you can get the money out of the plan. Such an option is on the way, thanks to recent legislation, but the choices are not in place NOW for the vast majority of workers.

I am particularly concerned about folks who work for the US Postal Service. With all of the news about financial losses, this valuable institution has now come under fire as a target for elimination. The postal service has been forced to fully fund its generous pension program, even when it has experienced devastating operating losses. If the postal service goes under, you can bet that this huge pension fund will be a coveted prize for political power struggles. Congress and the executive branch of government have complete control over the US Postal Service and its lucrative assets. It would not be the first time that workers have been robbed of their pensions to cover an organization’s operating losses and debts. It you, or someone you care about, works for the postal service, we need to help them examine their options sooner rather than later.

Please call me or Sibyl TODAY or go online at to schedule a call or video appointment. We provide a one-hour free consult and will be happy to do whatever we can to help you explore and understand your choices. We specialize in providing financial advice and care for everyday working people. It would be an honor to serve you.