Does PG&E’s Recent Bankruptcy Announcement Scare You?

Here Are The Things All Employees Should Be Aware of Regardless of Where You Work

By Justin D. Rucci, CFP® 

As many of you are likely aware, PG&E recently announced a bankruptcy filing as the result of roughly $30B in potential liabilities stemming from recent California wildfires. Regardless of whether or not you work for a public utility, it is only natural to have questions around what to expect or what precautions you should be taking with your own money. With that said, below are some items you will want to remain cognizant of should more wildfires occur or things change.

Things to Think About:


While your 401(k) account is technically “tied” to your employer, your contributions and vested matching contributions will not be at creditor risk should your company go bankrupt. As part of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974(ERISA), your 401(k) assets are required by law to be held in trust separate from the company. This means the assets are not commingled with the company’s general operating funds and are not accessible to the company should they need operating capital or funds to pay creditors. Your investments within the 401(k) are always subject to your own investment risk, so be sure to contact Warren Street Wealth Advisors if you would like guidance on the plan’s investment options.


Pension plans are another common concern for those worried about their company potentially filing for bankruptcy. Luckily ERISA comes into play here as well. As part of the enacting of ERISA, a government agency titled the Pension Benefit & Guaranty Corp.(PBGC) was formed. This agency is designed to step in to pay benefits should a private pension plan fall to bankruptcy. This agency will step in to pay receipt of your pension benefits at normal retirement age, annuity benefits to your survivors, disability benefits, and most early retirement benefits. The PBGC will not however pay for severance packages, vacation pay, or similar benefits. While benefits are guaranteed by the PBGC, they do enforce limits on what is covered by the agency, meaning it is possible that you would not necessarily receive your entire benefit. Maximum benefit guarantees can vary, but more information is available on the PBGC website here.


How should you time your retirement if you are worried about your company going bankrupt? The short answer is, you probably shouldn’t dictate your retirement decision based solely on the possibility of a corporate bankruptcy. While the possibility of benefits being cut and severance package offerings are very real for companies that are struggling financially, often times it makes sense to take an individualized approach to analyze the situation before making a rash decision on retirement. Pension plans may change from a defined benefit annuity stream to a cash balance “lump sum” in some cases, but this does not necessarily mean it is time to retire. I would recommend speaking to an advisor should you have questions about your specific company and situation to determine what the best course of action may be for you.

What Should I Do?

For those interested in learning more about retirement and would like to meet with professional advisors, Warren Street Wealth Advisors hosts many events throughout the year. You can view our upcoming events here.

If you have any questions, contact or call 714-876-6200. We are well versed in interpreting company benefits and are happy to talk through any of your questions or concerns.

Justin D. Rucci, CFP®
Wealth Advisor
Warren Street Wealth Advisors




Justin is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. The information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio. Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results. Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of the content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.



The Retirement Handbook: Southern California Edison Edition

The Retirement Handbook: Southern California Edison Edition

Retirement is just around the corner, and you should be excited. But some of us have many questions and concerns about retirement causing us to feel more nervous than anything else.

We understand these feelings.

At Warren Street Wealth Advisors, we’ve helped hundreds of Southern California Edison retirees navigate this crucial time. In the process, we’ve learned about SCE’s retirement and employee benefits programs inside and out. We’ve put together our Southern California Edison Retirement Handbook as a guide for you.

1. Have a Plan

Nothing else on this list matters if you don’t have a personalized financial plan.

A personalized financial plan is the roadmap to your comfortable retirement. You can know your benefits inside-out and be clever about taxes and investments, but if you don’t have a roadmap for navigating your retirement, you’ll never feel confident along the way.

2. Seriously, Have a Plan

Having a plan is essential for any major life transition, and navigating your retirement with wisdom and confidence is certainly part of a major life transition!

OK, let’s move on…

3. Plan to Retire Around October

If you are grandfathered into the old SCE pension formula, then you should plan to retire around October. This will allow you to choose which year’s plan rate provides you with the better benefit (Learn more HERE).

It’s important to know that you have a choice, review your options, then decide whether to retire on December 1st or January 1st – whichever projection pays the higher benefit.

If you are not grandfathered, retiring at the end of the year is still a great idea, especially if you need to take a large distribution pre-59 ½.

You are not forced to take your final distribution at retirement. You can wait until January 1st, request your final distribution, and then take a direct payment to avoid penalties using the “55 rule” if you are 55 years or older. This will also allow you to defer the income tax to the following year’s tax return.

This might seem complicated, but it’s a normal process for our clients who retired early.

4. Retire After 55 But Before 59 1/2 Without Paying Penalties.

Here’s a scenario we see all the time: you’re 57. You want to retire. You don’t want to wait until 59 ½ to do it. But you know that there’s a 10% federal tax penalty and a 2.5% California state tax penalty if you take the money out of your IRA before 59 ½. So are you stuck? Nope.

There are a lot of moving parts to this process, but we can take advantage of IRS rules like 72(t) distributions or the previously mentioned “55 rule” to ensure our clients do everything possible to avoid paying penalties.

5. Take Advantage of Your Medical Subsidy

Did you know that you are eligible for a retiree medical subsidy? The most common subsidies are 50% and 85%. When you retire, Edison will pay either 50% or 85% of your current medical insurance premium as a “continuation benefit” in retirement. Simply put, what you pay today is what you’ll pay in retirement. Of course, this is as long as you reach your required benefit milestone.

Unsure what your benefit is? You can call EIX Benefits to ask what benefit you have and at what age you’ll receive it. Call 866-693-4947.

Medical expenses are a huge cost for retirees, knowing what portion is covered by your employer is critical to planning a successful retirement.

6. Say “Goodbye” to Credit Card Debt

If you have credit card debt, then it’s time for a plan, a budget, and some hard work.

Debt can be intimidating, but you can pay it off! One of our favorite things is a client freeing themselves from the stress of mounting credit card debt. You may just need some help and a plan.

7. If Eligible, Plan for Your Sick Time Payout

Your sick time payout can be a significant amount and can be a boost into retirement, especially if you’re retiring early. You can run a pension projection online that will include a calculation of your accrued sick time payout . This will provide  you more clarity about how much money you’ll start with when you retire, and it could help bridge the gap to 59 ½.

8. Build and Keep a Budget

We get it: it’s no fun to build a budget, but it’s the first step to discovering what retirement will look like.

Get rid of the stuff you don’t use and keep what makes you happy! Not sure where to start? No problem, use our Retirement Tool Kit to make it easy.

9. Build Up 6-Months Worth of Emergency Savings

We’re always optimistic about the future, but sometimes life takes surprising and difficult turns. Wise financial planning means being prepared for those situations.

We recommend that you save at least 6-months worth of living expenses in case of an emergency. Need $4,000/month to live? Then have around $24,000 in savings & checking. Now, you’re prepared for the ups and downs that life can throw at us at any age.

10. Weigh All Your Options on Social Security

There is a lot of information out there about what to do with Social Security. Let me boil it all down: you don’t have to take it at 62! When we build a financial plan for a client, we calculate all options for optimizing Social Security.

It’s ultimately your decision, we suggest weighing your options before committing to collecting the 25-30% reduced benefit at age 62.

11. Invest for Retirement

Max out your 401(k). Diversify your investments. Consider hiring a pro.

Make sure your investments are retirement ready. Do you have too much cash? Too much of a single stock? If you have ESOP shares, are you getting the most tax efficiency with them?

If you’re unsure, then having a team on your side can help you get the most out of your plan and make sure your investments match your goals and objectives.

12. Have a Plan

You didn’t think this was going to end without one more reminder, did you? If you’re not sure where to start with your financial plan, that’s OK: we can help.

Contact Us

Schedule a free consultation to talk through your finances and take the first step toward building a confident retirement.

Warren Street Wealth Advisors LLC. is a Registered Investment Advisor. The information posted here represents opinions and is not meant as personal or actionable advice to any individual, corporation, or other entity. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

Rate Watch 2017 – August

Rate Watch 2017 – July