WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal agency that protects retirement income of nearly 44 million workers has decided to split its $55 billion in assets evenly between fixed-income investments and stocks.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. said Monday the new strategy will offer lower risk through broader diversification.

Previously, the agency had 28 percent of its assets in stocks.

The deficit at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. was $14 billion at the end of last year.

The PBGC's assets are handled by professional money management firms or are invested in various market indexes. The agency does not select individual stocks or bonds, and does not actively manage its portfolio.

The PBGC will allocate 45 percent of its assets to a diversified set of fixed-income investments, 45 percent to diversified equity investments and 10 percent to alternative investment classes like private equity funds.

The agency is financed by premiums paid by employers, assets from failed pension plans, recoveries from bankruptcies and returns on invested assets.