DEARBORN - Director of Employee Benefits, Rick Popp, recently joined the Ford Retired Engineering Executives (FREE) club as the guest speaker for this month’s regular luncheon.
With more than 40 years of dedication as an active retiree group, FREE membership includes those with supervisory experience at an LL5 (SG11) level or above at Ford. Each month a new guest speaker attends this meeting.
With the second election period for the voluntary lump-sum payment opportunity recently beginning, Popp took this time to address issues and answer any questions from the FREE members.
“We’re trying to provide as much information as possible to all of you, and all of the other retirees and families that depend on Ford and our retirement benefits,” said Popp.
This voluntary opportunity allows salaried (primarily) retirees and surviving beneficiaries to receive the remaining value of their General Retirement Plan (GRP) benefit as a single lump-sum payment instead of monthly payments. Intended to be a one-time-only opportunity, this offer also may include additional monthly pension benefit payment options for those currently receiving pension payments.
“It’s one time, it’s voluntary and we’re really trying to do our best to make sure people have enough time to make their decision,” said Popp. “It’s their personal decision. We say it’s a like a finger print. No two numbers are exactly the same, no two decisions are exactly the same.”
Nearly 90,000 U.S. retirees, former employees and surviving beneficiaries are eligible to elect the lump-sum pension payment.
According to Popp, the lump sum opportunity is part of the Company’s plan to de-risk its global funded pension plans, reduce administrative costs, and to protect funding for future vehicle programs. “If we experience another downturn in the economy, for example, and capital is scarce and pension fund asset returns are lower than anticipated, we would prefer to be able to use our limited resources to design, develop, build, and sell vehicles rather than having to divert even more funds into underfunded pension plans. So the benefits of our de-risking strategy do not necessarily appear today, but provide protection to the core business in the future without negatively impacting our retirees,” Popp explained.
The FREE organization is one of the Company’s largest and most active retiree groups, with representation of close to 500 members.
“My best advice to all the retirees is to get all the information that they can get before making their decision. This is a major decision for retirees and we appreciate Rick Popp coming out to speak with the FREE members,” said Howard Freers, Ford retiree and FREE president.
“We don’t have a goal for how many will elect the lump sum opportunity, this is simply an option,” said Popp. “Success for me is that people have enough information to make their decision. We just hope everyone takes a look and thinks about it using facts and data.”
For more information on the voluntary lump-sum pension payment opportunity, visit myfordbenefits.com.