SFA Application: Through the Forest and Into the Weeds

Link:https://burypensions.wordpress.com/2021/10/25/sfa-application-through-the-forest-and-into-the-weeds/

Excerpt:

The Road Carriers Local 707 Pension Fund , which was the first plan to seek bailout money under the PBGC Special Financial Assistance (SFA) program for troubled multiemployer plans, has their 425-page application uploaded on the SFA website.

…..

412-425) SFA calculations which is a fairly simple spreadsheet calculating the present value of the liabilities of all current participants (pages 419-420) and coming up with one amount ($706,400,534) to cover all their liabilities through 2051. New entrants presumably will be covered by new negotiated contributions and, after 30 years though if any of the current participants survive until 2051 they will presumably need another bailout.

The problem PBGC has with this filing appears to be that an interest rate of 5.32% was used for valuing liabilities which happens to be 2% plus the first HATFA Segment Rate when it is the third PPA Segment Rate to which the 2% should have been added. Per the IRS website (scroll down a little to Funding Table 3), that rate would likely have been the April, 2021 rate of 3.52% which would have made 5.52% the rate to be used for valuing liabilities (thus lowering the liability value as the higher the interest rate the lower the value). The tricky part is that the PPA third Segment Rate has been going down and is now 3.34% as of October, 2021.

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 25 Oct 2021

Publication Site: burypensions

SFA New Filing; First In a Month

Link:https://burypensions.wordpress.com/2021/10/23/sfa-new-filing-first-in-a-month/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Plan NameLocal Union No. 466 Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers Pension Plan
EIN/PN: 14-6085295/001
Total participants @ 4/30/20: 45 including:
Retirees: 30
Separated but entitled to benefits: 8
Still working: 7

Asset Value (Market) @ 5/1/19: $523,604
Value of liabilities using RPA rate (3.09%) @ 5/1/19: $5,108,203 including:
Retirees: $4,213,315
Separated but entitled to benefits: $820,490
Still working: $74,398

Funded ratio: 10.25%

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 23 Oct 2021

Publication Site: burypensions

COVID-19 Relief Program Tracker (NY)

Link:https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/covid-relief-program-tracker

Graphic:

Excerpt:

The Office of the State Comptroller has created this dashboard to track federal relief funds received during the pandemic and eight programs that offer targeted assistance to New Yorkers most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The tracker explains when each funding stream or program was authorized, how it is designed and how much has been received and spent to date. The data will be updated monthly and will be expanded over time as more information becomes available. We hope the information presented here can be used to help New Yorkers understand how federal aid is used and to inform future conversations about budget investments.

Select a relief program to view its funding and spending, or download this month’s data for all programs.

Author(s):Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: accessed 17 Oct 2021

Publication Site: Office of the Comptroller of the State of New York

State comptroller launches COVID-19 relief fund tracker

Link:https://www.timesunion.com/state/article/DiNapoli-launches-tracker-of-COVID-19-relief-funds-16533107.php?IPID=Times-Union-HP-CP-Latest-News

Excerpt:

The state has received $21 billion in federal pandemic relief money and has spent $6.1 billion since the end of September, according to a new online tracker released by the state comptroller’s office.

Despite less than a third of the money being spent to date, much of the federal cash has a general spending plan ascribed to it. The state has received just over half of its expected federal aid, which is to total $39.8 billion, according to the tracker. 

“Thankfully New York is getting billions of dollars of federal funding that really has been a lifeline,” state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli told the Times Union. “When you’re seeing an infusion of funding at that magnitude, it is important to follow the money and make sure it is spent as intended.”

Author(s): Joshua Solomon

Publication Date: 14 Oct 2021

Publication Site: Times Union

States Have $95 Billion to Restore their Unemployment Trust Funds—Why Aren’t They Using It?

Link:https://taxfoundation.org/state-unemployment-trust-funds-2021/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

States are permitted to replenish their unemployment compensation (UC) trust funds using the $195.3 billion they received in Fiscal Recovery Funds under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)—and they need the help, having paid out $175 billion in state-funded benefits since the start of the pandemic, in addition to the $661 billion shelled out by the federal government in extended and expanded benefits, for a total of about $836 billion between January 27, 2020 and September 11, 2021.[1]

…..

Pre-pandemic trust fund balances stood at $72.5 billion. Today, aggregate trust fund balances are negative, at -$11.1 billion, reflecting $44.8 billion in indebtedness currently incurred by 10 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. By federal standards, 34 state accounts are currently insolvent, with $114.6 billion needed to bring them all up to what the federal government regards as minimum adequate levels.

Author(s): Savanna Funkhouser, Jared Walczak

Publication Date: 22 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Tax Foundation

Actuaries project future virus surges, end of regulatory flexibility key drivers in 2022 rates

Link: https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payer/actuaries-project-future-virus-surges-end-regulatory-flexibility-key-drivers-2022-rates

Excerpt:

Uncertainty over future surges of COVID-19 and the end of regulatory flexibilities are going to be major drivers for 2022 premiums on the individual and small group markets, a new actuary report finds.

The report, released Thursday (PDF) by the American Academy of Actuaries, finds insurers face major uncertainties like the end of the public health emergency and the fate of enhanced subsidies for coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) insurance exchanges.

“Greater degrees of uncertainty could lead to more conservative assumptions and risk margins for some insurers,” the report said. “Alternatively, carriers might lower risk margins, seeing an opportunity to capitalize on the increased enrollment due to the [American Rescue Plan Act] subsidies.”

Author(s): Robert King

Publication Date: 2 September 2021

Publication Site: Fierce Healthcare

ARP: “Actuarial Equivalent of a Guillotine”

Excerpt:

Right now on the American Rescue Plan (ARP) website:

Status of Applications [.xls] – Coming Soon

Until those spreadsheets start popping up we have no clue as to why, by whom, and how these bailout applications are being made but, before seeing any numbers, one thing bothers me.

A footnote on that ARP website reads:

**MPRA plans can restore benefits under 26 CFR 1.432(e)(9)-1(e)(3) at any time, including before applying for SFA.

So why aren’t plan participants like Carol Podesta-Smallen in the MarketWatch story not having their monthly pension amounts restored to pre-MPRA levels and getting large checks to make up for past reductions? It would reduce asset values in those plans but isn’t that a good thing when applying for bailout money?

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 31 August 2021

Publication Site: burypensions

‘I’ll be robbed twice in one lifetime’: Retirees fearing financial disaster wait for pension rescue

Link: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ill-be-robbed-twice-in-one-lifetime-retirees-fearing-financial-disaster-wait-for-pension-rescue-11630018883

Graphic:

Excerpt:

A law passed in Congress earlier this year promised to reverse some of that damage by offering taxpayer-funded financial assistance to certain troubled pension plans like Podesta-Smallen’s, allowing them to restore benefits to retirees who suffered cuts. But the implementation of the rescue plan has been met with a barrage of criticism from plan trustees, participants and members of Congress who say it’s too tight-fisted with the financial assistance and could leave some plans in a worse financial position than they are in now.

….

When the American Rescue Plan was signed into law in March, many of these struggling plans and retirees with sharply reduced benefits thought their troubles were over. The law is expected to provide about $94 billion to eligible multiemployer plans through a financial assistance program designed to stabilize the plans for decades to come and reinstate previously reduced benefits.  

The sense of relief was short-lived, plan trustees and participants say. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency charged with protecting the retirement incomes of participants in private-sector defined-benefit pension plans, in early July released regulations detailing the formula for calculating the financial assistance for troubled plans.

In interviews and more than 100 comment letters to the PBGC, plan trustees, consultants, participants and lawmakers say that the rule’s stringent approach to calculating financial assistance means that many plans receiving the assistance won’t make it through the next 30 years as Congress intended, and some won’t even get enough money to cover the benefits they must restore as a condition of getting the cash.

Author(s): Eleanor Laise

Publication Date: 30 August 2021

Publication Site: Marketwatch

PBGC Issues Interim Final Rule on Multiemployer Bailout Plan

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/pbgc-issues-interim-final-rule-on-multiemployer-bailout-plan/

Excerpt:

There are four types of multiemployer plans that are eligible to apply for SFA under the PBGC’s regulation:

A plan in critical and declining status as defined by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in any plan year beginning in 2020, 2021, or 2022.

A plan that had enacted a suspension of benefits approved under ERISA as of March 11, 2021.

A plan certified to be in critical status as defined by ERISA that has a modified funded percentage of less than 40%, and a ratio of active to inactive participants of less than 2:3, in any plan year beginning in 2020, 2021, or 2022.

A plan that became insolvent for purposes of section 418E of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) after Dec. 16, 2014, when the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) became law, has remained insolvent, and has not terminated under ERISA as of March 11, 2021.

PBGC has prioritized seven groups of plans that qualify for the aid, ranked by the most impacted plans and participants first. The highest priority is given to applications of plans that are projected to become insolvent under ERISA by March 11, 2022, so that they will not have to reduce participant benefits, and to plans that are already insolvent, to help them reinstate benefits, provide makeup payments to participants and beneficiaries, and restore previously suspended benefits.

Author(s): Christine Giordano

Publication Date: 14 July 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

PBGC Multiemployer Pension Bailout – The Weeds

Graphic:

Excerpt:

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) on July 9, 2021 announced an interim final rule implementing a new Special Financial Assistance (SFA) Program for financially troubled multiemployer defined benefit pension plans.

What struck me:

…..

It is expected that over 100 plans that would have otherwise become insolvent during the next 15 years will instead forestall insolvency as a direct result of receiving SFA. Section 9704 of ARP amends section 4005 of ERISA to establish an eighth fund for SFA from which PBGC will provide SFA to multiemployer plans under the program created by the addition of section 4262 of ERISA. The eighth fund will be credited with amounts from time to time as the Secretary of the Treasury, in conjunction with the Director of PBGC, determines appropriate, from the general fund of the Treasury Department. Transfers from the general fund to the eighth fund cannot occur after September 30, 2030. (page 6)

Unlike the financial assistance provided under section 4261 of ERISA, which is in the form of a loan and provided in periodic payments, a plan receiving SFA under section 4262 has no obligation to repay SFA, and PBGC must pay SFA in the form of a single, lump sum payment. (page 7)

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 10 July 2021

Publication Site: burypensions

PBGC to Provide Special Financial Assistance to Troubled Multiemployer Plans

Link: https://www.pbgc.gov/news/press/releases/pr21-05

Released rule pdf: https://www.pbgc.gov/sites/default/files/sfa/4262-ifr-final-posted.pdf

Excerpt:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) today announced an interim final rule implementing a new Special Financial Assistance (SFA) Program for financially troubled multiemployer defined benefit pension plans.  

“The American Rescue Plan provides funding to severely underfunded pension plans that will ensure that over three million of America’s workers, retirees, and their families receive the pension benefits they earned through many years of hard work,” said PBGC Director Gordon Hartogensis. “These benefits are critical to the economic security of so many retirees and their families.” 

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 (P.L. 117-2) — a historic law passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021 — contains provisions to provide an estimated $94 billion in assistance to eligible plans that are severely underfunded. Additionally, it assists plans by providing funds to reinstate previously suspended benefits. ARP also addresses the solvency of PBGC’s Multiemployer Insurance Program, which was projected to become insolvent in 2026.  

The interim final rule sets forth what information a plan is required to file to demonstrate eligibility for SFA and the formula to determine the amount of SFA that PBGC will pay to an eligible plan. ARP authorizes PBGC to prioritize SFA applications of plans in specified groups, and the interim final rule identifies the priority order in which such plans are permitted to apply. The interim final rule also outlines a processing system, which will accommodate the filing and review of many applications in a limited amount of time. In addition, it specifies permissible investments for SFA funds and establishes certain restrictions and conditions on plans that receive SFA. 

The interim final rule is posted on PBGC’s website today, July 9, 2021. The rule is also on public inspection today at FederalRegister.gov and is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on July 12, 2021. PBGC has included a 30-day public comment period in this rulemaking from the date of publication in the Federal Register. All interested parties may submit their comments, suggestions, and views on the rule’s provisions here: reg.comments@pbgc.gov or https://www.regulations.gov

Additional information, including Frequently Asked Questions, is available at PBGC.gov/arp

Author(s): PBGC press release

Publication Date: 9 July 2021

Publication Site: PBGC

PBGC Rules on Multiemployer Pension Bailout

Excerpt:

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) today announced an interim final rule implementing a new Special Financial Assistance (SFA) Program for financially troubled multiemployer defined benefit pension plans.

Pertinent excerpts coming over the weekend but, for now, it looks like the bailout number moved from $86 billion to $94 billion per the PBGC press release:

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 9 July 2021

Publication Site: burypensions