The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) recently issued two reports underscoring its multiemployer plan insurance fund’s precarious position, predicting that complete insolvency is more likely than not by 2025, if not sooner.
The PBGC reports (PBGC MPRA Report, and FY2015 PBGC Projections Report) call for substantial if modulated minimum level premium increases as follows . . . “for the longer-term PBGC solvency scenarios, all four scenarios require a very substantial increase from the current $27 per participant premium rate, ranging from a 363 percent increase to a 552 percent increase.” They acknowledge that higher rate increases raise the likelihood of driving greater numbers of financially challenged plans into insolvency – compounding the need for further PBGC premium increases.
The reports offer some discussion of the Administration’s budget proposal for Congress to allow PBGC to set its own premiums, charge additional new risk-based premiums on multiemployer plans, and to charge an “exit” fee on sponsoring employers (not paid out of plan assets) to shore up PBGC resources.
In all this, there is little discussion on the impact of these measures on the competitiveness of plan sponsoring employers, or the tendency of PBGC premium issues and uncertainty to push sponsoring employers and plans out of the defined benefit system.
On these points, the PBGC MPRA report says: “Given the scale of the necessary premium increases, their design and structure are critical. A well-designed increase may encourage additional contributions, encourage continued participation in plans, and strengthen the multiemployer system. A poorly designed premium increase may encourage employer withdrawals and accelerate plan insolvency with a resulting cost to plan participants and a need for even larger premiums.”
House Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN-2)(retiring), the leading proponent of the MCAA and NCCMP-backed composite plan proposal, cited the PBGC fiscal challenge as yet one more instance of the imperative need for Congress to modernize the multiemployer system. MCAA and the entire NCCMP Retirement Security Reform Coalition continue to press for new composite plan design options to be enacted by Congress.
Click here for the PBGC reports.