2020 – Participant and Plan Sponsor Issues at a Glance
The Advocate’s 2020 Annual Report describes the Office of the Advocate’s participant and plan sponsor cases and activities, as well as the Office’s latest initiative, the Pension Plan Registry Project (Project).
The Report details the Office of the Advocate’s Pension Plan Registry Project, which seeks to create a tool to help participants search information about the history of a pension plan. The Project, which has the support of participant advocacy and plan sponsor trade groups, will use information available at PBGC to develop the tool and help individuals with their lost pension search. The Advocate’s Report identifies the Project as a high priority initiative for the Office in 2021.
The Report also describes many positive changes made by PBGC to address past Advocate recommendations, including improving oversight of PBGC’s Field Benefit Administration offices and revising overpayment recoupment communications and processes. The Report details the successful resolution of an issue brought to the attention of the Office of the Advocate regarding PBGC’s guidance on the effect of the contribution delay provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act on the calculation of PBGC premiums. Other notable positive strides include the continued success of a data-sharing agreement between PBGC and the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration Regional offices to help reunite participants and beneficiaries with unclaimed pension benefits and the consolidation of potentially omitted participant cases into the Office of Benefits Administration.
The Report notes areas where participants and plan sponsors still face challenges in their dealings with PBGC, including longstanding cases which go on for months or even years without resolution. The Advocate’s recommendations include conducting a cost-benefit analysis on all cases and revisiting old processes and procedures to ensure they are efficient and customer-friendly. The Report again emphasizes the need for greater scrutiny and oversight of cases that languish at the agency and frequent managerial oversight to clear such backlog. The Advocate’s Report also identifies challenges faced by participants in financially troubled multiemployer pension plans facing insolvency or other benefit cuts.
For more information, including the Advocate’s comments and recommendations, visit the 2020 Annual Report.