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PBGC Proposes Rule for Multiemployer Plans to Clarify Assumptions for Determining an Employer’s Withdrawal Liability

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is proposing a new regulation to provide interest rate assumptions in determining a withdrawing employer’s liability to a multiemployer pension plan. 

Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), an employer that withdraws from an underfunded multiemployer plan may owe withdrawal liability to the plan. The amount owed represents the withdrawn employer’s share of the amount by which the present value of the plan’s nonforfeitable benefits exceed the value of the plan’s assets. The plan actuary determines the present value of the plan’s nonforfeitable benefits using actuarial assumptions and methods.

The proposed rule clarifies that it is reasonable to base the interest assumption used to calculate an employer’s withdrawal liability on the market price of purchasing annuities from private insurers, such as by use of settlement interest rates prescribed by PBGC under Section 4044 of ERISA (4044 rates). The proposed rule would specifically permit the use of 4044 rates either as a standalone assumption or combined with funding interest rate assumptions, to determine withdrawal liability.

Existing PBGC regulations prescribe actuarial assumptions for determining withdrawal liability in a multiemployer plan that terminates by mass withdrawal, but until now, PBGC has not used its explicit statutory authority under Section 4213(a)(2) of ERISA to issue regulations setting forth the assumptions that an ongoing plan may use in calculating an employer’s withdrawal liability. 

"This proposed rule provides the clarity that many multiemployer plans need to determine an employer’s withdrawal liability and protect the retirement security of the workers and retirees covered by the plan," said PBGC Director Gordon Hartogensis. “We look forward to receiving comments on the proposal from the public and the multiemployer pension community.”

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on October 14, 2022, and comments may be submitted by November 14, 2022. 

About PBGC

PBGC protects the retirement security of over 33 million American workers, retirees, and beneficiaries in both single-employer and multiemployer private sector pension plans. The agency’s two insurance programs are legally separate and operationally and financially independent. PBGC is directly responsible for the benefits of more than 1.5 million participants and beneficiaries in failed pension plans. The Single-Employer Insurance Program is financed by insurance premiums, investment income, and assets and recoveries from failed single-employer plans. The Multiemployer Insurance Program is financed by insurance premiums. Special financial assistance for financially troubled multiemployer plans is financed by general taxpayer money.

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