The Big Pension Swap

Accounts that yield benefits sooner are replacing traditional plans, but older workers are crying foul

After 19 years on the job, Herb Schrayshuen, 44, an engineer at a public utility in upstate New York, thought he knew the drill: toil away for another 15 or 20 years, then drift off into a cozy retirement on the back of a nice, fat company pension. But last summer his employer threw a wrench into that plan. The utility converted the old-fashioned pension system, in which employees earn the bulk of benefits during their last few years, into a new cash-balance plan, in which they earn at a steadier rate throughout their careers. It sounded simple enough, but once...

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