WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) announced today that it has approved the supplemented application submitted to the Special Financial Assistance (SFA) Program by the Cement Masons Local Union 681 Pension Plan (Local 681 Plan). The plan, based in Houston, Texas, covers 196 participants in the construction industry.
Plans that applied for and received SFA under the interim final SFA rule issued in July 2021 are permitted to supplement their applications under the provisions of the final SFA rule issued in July 2022. The Local 681 Plan will receive approximately $47,100 in supplemented SFA, which is in addition to $16.1 million in SFA approved for the plan in April 2022 under the interim final rule. SFA will better ensure that the plan can continue to pay retirement benefits without reduction for many years into the future.
“Today’s approval of supplemental Special Financial Assistance, funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, in conjunction with the previously approved Special Financial Assistance, means the Local 681 Plan will be able to provide the retirement promised to its 196 construction industry workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Lisa M. Gomez. “Through no fault of their own, these workers faced diminished pensions, but will now receive the secure retirement they were promised in exchange for many years of work.”
About the Special Financial Assistance Program
The SFA Program was enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. The program provides funding to severely underfunded multiemployer pension plans and will ensure that millions of America’s workers, retirees, and their families receive the pension benefits they earned.
The SFA Program requires plans to demonstrate eligibility for SFA and to calculate the amount of assistance pursuant to ARP and PBGC’s regulations. SFA and earnings thereon must be segregated from other plan assets and may be used only to pay plan benefits and administrative expenses. Plans are not obligated to repay SFA to PBGC. Plans receiving SFA are also subject to certain terms, conditions and reporting requirements, including an annual statement documenting compliance with the terms and conditions. PBGC is authorized to conduct periodic audits of multiemployer plans that receive SFA.
As of April 5, 2023, PBGC has announced approval of about $45.9 billion in SFA to plans that cover over 553,000 workers, retirees, and beneficiaries.
The SFA Program operates under a final rule, published in the Federal Register on July 8, 2022, which became effective August 8, 2022, and was amended effective January 26, 2023.