Monday, October 12, 2009

Now Ford Retirees Have Another Thing to Think About

October 11, 2009. Brian Roehl and I have been working with Ford employees, both through Ford on a corporate level and on a personal level, since 1985. We’ve seen a lot of issues, ranging from what to do about buy-out offers, to the Ford Money Market Account (now called the Interest Advantage) and now what to do with the SSIP.

On October 8, 2009, Ford announced it was terminating its relationship with Fidelity to administer the Savings and Stock Investment Plan (SSIP) and Ford Retirement Plan (FRP) and transferring the administrative services to ACS. ACS is a large well established benefits company (in the process of being bought by Xerox). A lot of folks we know really like Fidelity, so now they have one more decision to consider.

Brian and I think there are some pretty important questions a Ford Retiree needs to consider before the end of 2009:
  • If I’m in the SSIP, should I rollover to an IRA to stay at Fidelity? (This one has an age-based answer, depending on whether you’re under age 59 ½)

  • Should I rollover the SSIP and go elsewhere? (ACS is offering the same investment options as Fidelity, so this question is independent of who administers it)

  • Should I consider a Roth conversion on part or all of the SSIP in 2009? (Now, in my opinion, this is a much more important issue. Do you have after-tax funds? Income under $100K? Big savings possible)

  • Should I consider a Roth conversion on part or all of the SSIP in 2010? (2010 eliminates the income limitation on Roth conversions. We believe the conversion is a great future opportunity; the trick is to stay in the same effective tax bracket)

  • What do I do with any Ford stock in the SSIP? (You can take Ford stock out of the SSIP at the lower of cost [what you paid], or current market value. All appreciation after withdrawal is long-term capital gain. If you think Ford shares are going to appreciate, you could convert what would have been ordinary income [if you left it in the SSIP] into long-term capital gains, which may be taxable at a lower rate.
There are more issues, like beneficiaries and stretch rules and so on, but if you know a Ford retiree with money in the SSIP, pass this on. If they have questions, they can e-mail us at