Retirees Could Get Shortchanged

In "Building the best retirement plan" (Cover Story, July 19), you forgot to delve into the conversion of defined-benefit plans to cash-balance plans. Take Motorola Inc.'s recent announcement--that all employees will have a choice as to which plan they want. This is eminently fair.

Then look at IBM--where only those within five years of their retirement eligibility are offered a choice between the "old" plan and the "new" plan. The result? A big potential reduction in benefits, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars for many employees and even more for higher-level employees. In addition, retiree medical coverage is all but eliminated under the "new" plan. What will these newly poor retirees do? They will come knocking on government's door for financial and medical assistance.

Bruce Broadley

West Nyack, N.Y.