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What's New for Employers & Practitioners

What's New for Employers & Practitioners

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Terminated and Insolvent Multiemployer Plans Proposed Rule: On July 16, PBGC will publish a proposed rule that would make more efficient certain reporting and disclosure of plan information by terminated and/or insolvent multiemployer plans to PBGC and participants and beneficiaries.  Certain terminated plans and insolvent plans must provide notices of insolvency and notices of insolvency benefit level.  The proposed rule would remove outdated information included in the notices and would eliminate the requirement to provide most annual updates to the notice of insolvency benefit level.  Under current regulations, multiemployer plans terminated by mass withdrawal must perform an annual actuarial valuation of the plan’s assets and liabilities.  Under the proposed rule, smaller plans terminated by mass withdrawal would be able to perform actuarial valuations less frequently.  The proposed rule also would add new requirements for plan sponsors of certain terminated plans and insolvent plans to file their actuarial valuations and withdrawal liability information with PBGC. (7/13/2018)

Disaster Relief: On July 2, 2018, PBGC will issue a Federal Register Notice announcing changes to the way it provides disaster relief. The revised policy streamlines PBGC’s practice of announcing relief by keying it to IRS’ disaster relief news releases via a one-time Disaster Relief Announcement and makes other minor changes. PBGC’s Disaster Relief announcement explains which filings are covered, what the relief entails, how/when to notify PBGC that your plan qualifies for the relief, etc. The Federal Register notice is available for public inspection now. (6/29/2018)

PBGC Projections Report FY 2017: On May 31, 2018, PBGC released its FY 2017 Projections Report, an annual actuarial evaluation forecasting the future financial condition of PBGC’s two separate programs (Single Employer and Multiemployer). The new projections are broadly consistent with last year’s projections and indicate that, absent changes in law or additional resources, PBGC’s Multiemployer Program is highly likely to become insolvent by the end of FY 2025, and that, while there remain significant risks, PBGC’s Single Employer Program is likely to emerge from deficit sooner than previously anticipated. PBGC’s news release provides additional information about the projections. (5/31/2018)

My PAA Updates: We have improved premium e-filing via My PAA to provide customer usability enhancements, which include improvements to the e-signature process if credits have changed since initial sign-off, displaying on-screen validations for single-filings in the upload filing process, and revised on-screen variable-rate premium validations for certain small plans. In addition, security enhancements were made, for example, to increase password complexity. For more information, see What’s New in My PAA and review the associated My PAA demos, which have been updated to reflect these changes. (4/27/2018)

Standard and distress terminations forms and instructions: OMB has approved minor revisions to the standard and distress termination forms and instructions. Key changes include a new option for submitting these filings by email and the ability to request a pre-filing consultation to determine if a distress filing application is warranted (see PBGC’s distress termination webpage for more information). In addition, because the rules related to missing participants differ depending on whether the date of plan termination is before January 1, 2018, the post-distribution certifications (i.e., Forms 501 and 602, for standard and distress terminations respectively), have been modified slightly so that they can be used for both pre-2018 and post-2017 terminations.

The new forms and instructions can be found on PBGC’s Forms for Practitioners and Employers webpage. Practitioners with questions about these forms may contact standard@pbgc.gov or distress@pbgc.gov. (04/17/18)

2016 Pension Insurance Data Book: Today, PBGC released the first installment tables for the 2016 Data Book, updating information in the Claims and Summary Tables. (04/04/2018) 

Multiemployer Plan Alternative Terms and Conditions to Satisfy Withdrawal Liability: PBGC is issuing guidance on alternative terms and conditions that multiemployer plans can use to satisfy withdrawal liability claims.  The guidance describes the types of information PBGC finds helpful in evaluating plan proposals, and the factors PBGC considers in its evaluation.  PBGC is issuing guidance now because it is observing an uptick in plans considering alternative rules and PBGC wants to be transparent and provide stakeholders with useful information to assist them in this process.  Read the press release: PBGC Issues Guidance to Assist Multiemployer Pension Plans Seeking Alternative Rules for Employer Withdrawal Liability. (04/03/2018)

Owner-participant Proposed Rule: On March 7, 2018, PBGC published a proposed rule to conform our regulations to changes in the phase-in rules for owner-participants under the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA 2006). Sections 4022 and 4044 of ERISA cover PBGC’s guarantee of plan benefits and allocation of plan assets, respectively, under terminated single-employer plans. Special provisions within these sections apply to owner-participants, who have certain ownership interests in their plan sponsors. PPA 2006 made changes to these provisions. PBGC has been operating in accordance with the amended provisions since they became effective.

With this rulemaking, PBGC intends to increase transparency into its operations and provide guidance for plan administrators on the impact of the statutory changes. The proposed rule clarifies that plan administrators may continue to use the simplified calculation in the existing rule to estimate benefits funded by plan assets. It also provides new examples to aid plan administrators in implementation. (3/7/2018)

Annual Update of Maximum Civil Monetary Penalty: Federal law requires that PBGC amend its civil penalty regulations annually to incorporate an inflation adjustment on the maximum penalty that may be assessed when plans fail to provide certain required information (e.g., reportable event filings, 4010 filings, certain multiemployer plan notices).  Accordingly, on January 12, 2018, PBGC will publish a final rule amending two regulations (29 CFR parts 4071 and 4302).

Although the maximum penalty is increasing, it's worth noting that it is uncommon for PBGC to assess information penalties. The agency's goal is to encourage compliance, not to penalize plans that inadvertently forget to file information.  In most cases, when PBGC does assess an information penalty, it is for an amount significantly less than the maximum permitted. (1/11/2018)

2018 Premium Filings: My PAA is now ready to accept electronic premium filings for plan years beginning in 2018. In addition, if you have the plan in your My PAA account (which we highly recommend), you can submit an online Request for Reconsideration (of penalty) or a Request for a Premium Refund (by the PA/PA Rep). For additional information, see the following pages: Premium Payment Instructions & Addresses, What's New in My PAA & Reminders, Online Demos, and the Online Premium Filing with My PAA page (for FAQs, My PAA User's Manual, etc.). (1/10/2018)

2018 Premium Filing Instructions: The Comprehensive Premium Filing Instructions for 2018 Plan Years (including the illustrative form) have been approved by OMB and are now available on PBGC's website. Of particular note is a new section alerting practitioners to the most common premium filing mistakes. We expanded the section about short plan years to provide additional information for plans expecting to distribute assets during the 2018 plan year pursuant to a standard termination. In addition, we’ve expanded the examples in the section about how to determine premiums in a year when a plan is involved with a Spinoff, Merger or Consolidation. My PAA will be ready to accept 2018 filings in the very near future. (1/8/2018)

Missing Participants Program Final Rule: On December 22, 2017, PBGC will publish a final rule expanding and updating its existing Missing Participants Program. Under the final rule, plan sponsors that terminate 401(k) and other defined contribution plans can turn to PBGC for help in distributing plan benefits to missing participants.

In addition to defined contribution plans, the expanded program now covers terminated PBGC-insured multiemployer plans and non-insured defined benefit plans sponsored by professional service organizations. The final rule also makes improvements to PBGC's pre-existing Missing Participants Program for PBGC-insured single-employer plans.

The final rule is available for public inspection. Additional information, including forms and instructions, are available on PBGC’s Expanded Missing Participants Program Web page. (12/21/2017)

Expected Retirement Age Annual Update: On December 20, 2017, PBGC published a final rule amending its valuation regulation by substituting a new table for selecting a retirement rate category. The new table applies to any plan being terminated either in a distress termination or involuntarily by the PBGC with a valuation date falling in 2018. (12/20/2017)

Benefit Restrictions - Present Value of PBGC Maximum Guarantee: On November 1, 2017, PBGC posted a table showing the applicable present values for 2018 plan years. New for this year, PBGC also posted a two-column version of the table for convenient copying. For more information see Technical Update 07-04. (11/01/2017)

Guarantee Limit: On October 30, 2017, PBGC announced that, as a result of the indexing rules provided in ERISA, the guarantee limits for single‑employer plans that fail in 2018 will be 0.95% higher than the limits that applied for 2017.  A table showing the single-employer plan guarantee limits for various ages and payment forms is available on the PBGC's website.  The guarantee limits for multiemployer plans are not indexed and therefore have not changed. (10/30/2017)

2018 Premium Rates: PBGC updated the "Premium Rates" webpage to show premium rates for 2018 after reflecting increases and indexing required by section 4006 of ERISA, as amended by The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. (10/17/2017)

PBGC Launches Pilot Mediation Project: On October 16, 2017, PBGC announced the creation of a Pilot Mediation Project that will offer mediation in certain Termination Liability Collection and Early Warning Program cases. The mediation project is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to make it easier for sponsors to maintain their pension plans. For more information on the program, see our related news release: PBGC to Launch Pilot Mediation Project to Resolve Certain Termination Liability Collection and Early Warning Program Cases. For more information about eligibility, visit PBGC’s Plan Sponsor Pilot Mediation Project webpage or call the Corporate Finance & Restructuring Department at 202-326-4070. (10/16/2017)

2015 Pension Insurance Data Book…Today, PBGC released the final installment of tables for the 2015 Data Book, updating information in the Guarantee Payments tables and Summary tables. This release also includes several new tables for the Multiemployer Program. (9/29/2017)

New PBGC Coverage webpage: On September 29, PBGC posted a new webpage for employers and practitioners summarizing which pension plans are covered by PBGC’s insurance program and which are not. For the vast majority of plans, it’s fairly obvious whether PBGC coverage applies, but due to complicated rules in the law, that is not always the case. This is especially true for small plans that cover only professional individuals (e.g., attorneys, architects), plans based in Puerto Rico, and plans affiliated with a church. The webpage provides an overview of the rules and highlights the types of plans that should consider requesting a coverage determination. (9/29/2017)

Active Participant Reduction Reportable Events:  To eliminate possible duplicative reporting for plans that reported an active participant reduction due to a single-cause under § 4043.23(a)(1), PBGC is providing an alternative method for determining whether an active participant reduction due to attrition must be reported to PBGC under § 4043.23(a)(2).  See PBGC Technical Update 17-1 for details.  (9/15/2017)

Additional Disaster Relief related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma: On September 12, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2017-49 providing relief for certain defined benefit plans because of damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Among other things, this notice extends the contribution due date for affected defined benefit plans. As a result, contributions made more than 8½ months after the end of the prior plan year may, in certain instances, be designated as being for the prior plan year. The relief in Notice 2017-49 applies to PBGC requirements that key off the contribution due date (e.g., whether a contribution is timely, whether that contribution is included in market value of assets).

This relief is in addition to PBGC-provided disaster relief related to waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines for affected plans. See PBGC’s Disaster Relief Announcements webpage for information about PBGC disaster relief. (9/12/2017)

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma response: In response to severe storms and flooding from recent hurricanes, PBGC is waiving late premium payment penalties and extending certain other deadlines for affected plans.  PBGC posted separate Disaster Relief Notices for affected plans in Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida and Puerto Rico explaining which plans are eligible, the exact nature of the disaster relief, how to claim the relief, etc. See PBGC’s Disaster Relief Announcements webpage.

In addition to posting this information for plan practitioners, PBGC has created webpages containing information for individuals in the affected areas who receive their pension payments from PBGC. See Hurricane Harvey Retiree webpage and Hurricane Irma Retiree webpage (updated 9/14/2017)

PBGC’s FY 2016 Projections ReportOn August 3, 2017, PBGC released its FY 2016 Projections Report, an annual actuarial evaluation forecasting the future financial condition of PBGC’s Single-Employer and Multiemployer Programs. Under current estimates, the financial condition of the Single-Employer Program is likely to improve over the next 10 years, while the Multiemployer Program, absent changes in law or additional resources, will likely face insolvency by the end of 2025. (8/03/2017)

PBGC’s Regulatory Planning and Review:  PBGC would like to hear from employers and practitioners on our regulatory program. We are particularly interested in the regulatory and deregulatory actions you believe PBGC should consider.

PBGC is committed to providing clear and helpful guidance. We want to minimize burdens of complying with regulations while maximizing the benefits, and address any ineffective and outdated rules. We have developed a set of questions, which are included in a Request for Information (RFI) that PBGC is publishing in the Federal Register Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Be sure to get your comments in by August 25, 2017, for consideration. (7/25/2017)

My PAA Updates: We’ve improved premium e-filing via My PAA. Three new Quick Link buttons on the top of the Plan Page will take you directly to the Premium Filings section, to the Plan Practitioners section, and to a new Plan Correspondence page to view correspondence that was/will be mailed to the plan administrator. In addition, an email confirmation will be sent to the plan’s e-filing team members for uploaded filings similar to the emails sent for submitted screen-prepared and imported filings. Also, the check vouchers offered in My PAA will now typically be prepopulated with the filing’s data (e.g., EIN/PN) for all e-filing methods. For more information, see What’s New in My PAA.  (7/24/2017)

2015 Pension Insurance Data Book: On July 10, PBGC released a second installment of tables for the 2015 Data Book, updating information in the Premium and Covered Plan Information tables. PBGC’s annual data books include statistics for PBGC's single-employer and multiemployer programs and for the private defined benefit pension system, including state-by-state information. (7/10/2017)

Risk Mitigation & Early Warning Program Update and FAQs: In December 2016, PBGC enhanced and reorganized the information available on its Risk Mitigation and Early Warning webpage. We also invited dialogue on the program and encouraged stakeholders to send us questions. In response to stakeholder feedback, we clarified what transactions or events do and do not trigger an Early Warning Program review and posted a new set of Risk Mitigation and Early Warning Program FAQs. (5/10/2017)

A New PBGC.gov! This morning we launched a new PBGC.gov with a cleaner, updated look and feel. Our redesign focused on the user experience, and making it simple for you to find the information you need. We’ve improved the search engine, and we hope that you’ll find the site cleaner and easier to navigate. Whether viewing PBGG.gov on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device, you’ll have the same seamless experience. If you’re a regular visitor to PBGC.gov, don’t worry! Your bookmarks and links will still work on the new site. For a short walkthrough of the new site, view our video. As we continue to improve, we welcome your feedback! Email us at webmaster@pbgc.gov with your thoughts and suggestions. (5/05/2017)

My PAA Updates: If you have the plan in your My PAA account (which is highly recommended), you can now view the comprehensive premium filings that were successfully submitted via all e-filing methods (screen-prepared, imported, uploaded). The information includes the premium filing data, the filing's My PAA Confirmation Number (for reporting on the related Form 5500), the status of each submitted filling (e.g., if the filing posted to the plan's account history), and any filing errors/warnings (e.g., if the submitted filing failed any validations). In addition, for in-process screen-prepared and imported filings, more data will be prepopulated and there will be additional validations to help improve accuracy (e.g., if the plan's effective date is inconsistent with the previously-reported date). See Online Premium Filing with My PAA for additional information. (4/24/2017)

2015 Pension Insurance Data Book. Today, PBGC released the first installment of the 2015 Data Book.

This release includes:

PBGC will continue to update the data tables as they become available. Future releases include updated data on guarantee payments and information on plans covered by PBGC. (3/13/2017)

Annual Update of Maximum Civil Monetary Penalty: Federal law requires that PBGC amend its civil penalty regulations annually to incorporate an inflation adjustment on the maximum penalty that may be assessed when plans fail to provide certain required information (e.g., reportable event filings, 4010 filings, certain multiemployer plan notices).  Accordingly, on January 31, 2017, PBGC will publish a final rule amending two regulations (29 CFR parts 4071 and 4302). 

Although the maximum penalty is increasing, it's worth noting that it is uncommon for PBGC to assess information penalties. The agency's goal is to encourage compliance, not to penalize plans that inadvertently forget to file information.  In most cases, when PBGC does assess an information penalty, it is for an amount significantly less than the maximum permitted. (1/30/2017)

4010 e-filing update:  The e-4010 module of PBGC's e-filing portal has been updated to reflect the regulatory changes issued last March applicable to information years beginning on or after January 1, 2016 (i.e., filings due on or after April 17, 2017). The e-filing portal is now ready to accept 4010 filings for such years.  Additional information and updated versions of the filing requirements (e.g., illustrative form, screenshots) are available on PBGC's 4010 web page.  (1/23/2017)

2017 Premium Filings:  My PAA is now ready to accept electronic premium filings for plan years beginning in 2017.  For additional information, see the following pages:  Premium Payment Instructions & Addresses, What's New in My PAA, Online Demos, Online Premium Filing with My PAA page (for FAQs, My PAA User's Manual, etc.).   Also, here are a few premium reminders: (1/09/2017)   

  • Verify our website to confirm the payment addresses to use before submitting any payment because addresses are subject to change.

  • Verify your account number and routing number before paying online via My PAA or Pay.gov to prevent a "returned payment".  Also, if your account has an "ACH Debit Block", provide the appropriate PBGC Company ID to your financial institution before you submit your payment so they may authorize PBGC to debit your account.

  • Update your "bookmarks" to use "https" rather than "http" to improve security when accessing My PAA pages (e.g., the Login Page) because "http" will not work after a transition period of a few months.

  • A week after we receive your filing, we will send an acknowledgement letter that includes processing results (e.g., amounts due, filing errors, etc.).

2017 Premium Filing Instructions: The Comprehensive Premium Filing Instructions for 2017 Plan Years (including the illustrative form) have been approved by OMB and are now available on PBGC's website.  Of particular note is a new chapter about the effect of plan mergers and spinoffs on premium requirements.  My PAA will be ready to accept 2017 filings in the very near future.  (1/5/2017)

RFI on multiemployer plan two-pool alternative withdrawal liability arrangements: The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is publishing a request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register seeking input on proposed "two-pool" alternative withdrawal liability arrangements. These arrangements involve an alternative method for measuring the withdrawal liability amount and the annual payment amount that an employer would owe the plan. PBGC wants input from the general public and all interested stakeholders, including multiemployer plan participants and beneficiaries, plan sponsors, and employers on these types of actions. For more information, visit our Retirement Matters blog entry and FAQs: Request for Information: Two Pool Withdrawal Liability. To read the full request for information and provide input please visit Requests for Approving Certain Alternative Methods for Computing Withdrawal Liability; Settlement of Withdrawal and Mass Withdrawal Liability. (1/04/2017)

What's New for Practitioners Archive

Last updated July 13, 2018