Bill would restore pension benefits to 20K Delphi retirees

Ohio’s U.S. senators said Thursday that they have lined up bipartisan support in both houses of Congress for new legislation that would restore the terminated pensions of more than 20,000 salaried retirees of Delphi, the bankrupted former auto parts supplier.

The move followed a U.S. Supreme Court decision in January declining to take up the retirees’ final legal appeal.

The largest concentrations of affected Delphi retirees are in Michigan (5,859) and Ohio (5,181). Those states are followed by Indiana (4,044), New York (2,337), Florida (801), Texas and Alabama (564), Mississippi (387), Arizona (198), North Carolina and Tennessee (156), California (153), South Carolina (147), Georgia (141) and Pennsylvania (117). The remaining 672 affected retirees live in other states.

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, a Republican and Democrat, respectively, are carrying the bill in the Senate. U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan and Mike Turner, a Democrat and Republican from Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat, introduced companion legislation in the House.

It would require the U.S. Treasury to make up the difference between partial retirement benefits the retirees were granted by the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. after General Motors filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and what they were originally promised. The corporation cut pensions by as much as 70%, on grounds it could not pay more than the statutory maximum amount.

Under the bill, pension beneficiaries already receiving benefits would get a lump sum payment representing the difference between what they were paid and what they were owed without the limitations, plus 6% interest. It would allow income taxes on the payout to be spread over three years. Full payments would resume thereafter.

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