Will American Rescue Plan Act Multiemployer Pension Provisions Bring Relief To Employers?

Link: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/will-american-rescue-plan-act-1713755/

Excerpt:

Since withdrawal liability represents the excess of the plan’s liabilities over its assets, some employers may expect that this massive influx of cash would reduce or eliminate their withdrawal liability. As of this date, however, the impact of EPPRA on an employer’s ultimate liability is unclear. The law as originally passed by the House of Representatives expressly excluded any financial assistance from the withdrawal liability calculus for a period of 15 years. However, this fund-friendly provision was struck from the bill during the Senate approval process and was not in the bill signed by President Joe Biden. In other words, under current law (e.g., EPPRA) and in the absence of anticipated regulations, an employer’s withdrawal liability could potentially be reduced or eliminated in its entirety. Unfortunately for employers, however, there is a catch.

Under EPPRA, PBGC is authorized to “impose, by regulation or other guidance, reasonable conditions on an eligible multiemployer plan that receives special assistance relating” to both “reductions in employer contribution rates” and “withdrawal liability.” The 15-year provision and the broad and express regulatory authority granted to PBGC by the statute has many practitioners (including the authors) expecting that PBGC will issue guidance similar to the excised provision. The most likely scenario is that an employer’s withdrawal liability will be calculated without regard to any EPPRA “special financial assistance” for a period of 15 years (consistent with the excised provision) or 10 years (the period for which MPRA benefit suspensions are disregarded for withdrawal liability purposes under ERISA Section 305(g)). Until PBGC issues this much-needed guidance, the exact impact of EPPRA on employers will be unknown.

Author(s): Paul Friedman, Robert Perry, David Pixley

Publication Date: 16 March 2021

Publication Site: JD Supra

Congress Considers New Multiemployer Pension Reform

Link: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/congress-considers-new-multiemployer-2408608/

Excerpt:

Without congressional intervention, about 100 multiemployer pension plans are expected to become insolvent in the next 20 years, and some much sooner.  In other words, for these pension plans, their liabilities to retired employees and current employees with vested benefits far outweigh their assets and incoming contributions. Although the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is intended to provide a backstop to any insolvencies, the sheer number of plans facing insolvency and the total size of unfunded vested liabilities will bankrupt the PBGC’s multiemployer program as well.  It is against that backdrop that Congress has added the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 to the COVID-19 relief bill. 

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Fourth, the bill would create a special financial assistance program for those plans that are expected to become insolvent in the near future.  Under the bill, the Treasury would grant money to the PBGC, which would then disburse it to eligible plans.  Eligible plans include (a) those in critical and declining status, (b) those that have approved benefit suspensions, (c) those that are in critical status with a funding percentage of less than 40% with more inactive than active participants, and (d) those plans that are already insolvent. The bill would instruct the PBGC to develop regulations within 120 days for applications and to prioritize applications from plans that are (a) insolvent, (b) likely to become insolvent within five years, (c) have a present value of over $1 billion in unfunded vested benefits, or (d) have already implemented benefit suspensions. The money would be paid in a single, lump-sum payment in the amount sufficient to guarantee benefits, without reductions, through 2051.  If a multiemployer plan were to receive financial assistance, it would be required to reinstate any suspended benefits, and repay the amount of benefits previously suspended.  Finally, an employer’s withdrawal liability would be calculated without taking into account this assistance for 15 calendar years after it was received. 

Publication Date: 16 February 2021

Publication Site: JD Supra