The insurance program for multiemployer pension plans, which covers more than 10 million Americans, is likely to run out of money by the end of 2025, according to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s FY 2016 Projections Report and a recent PBCG press release.
On the other hand, projections for PBGC’s insurance program for single-employer pension plans, which covers about 28 million people, show that its financial condition is likely to continue to improve. The program is highly unlikely to run out of money in the next 10 years, and is likely to eliminate its deficit within the next 3 to 7 years.
The Projections Report is PBGC’s annual actuarial evaluation of its future operations and financial status. The report provides a range of estimates of the future status of insured pension plans and their effect on PBGC’s financial condition, based on hundreds of different economic scenarios.
Absent changes in law or additional resources, this year’s report projects that the Multiemployer Program’s FY 2016 deficit of $59 billion will increase, with the average projected deficit (looking across multiple economic scenarios) rising to almost $80 billion (in nominal dollars) for FY 2026.
Under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014, multiemployer plans that project insolvency within the next 20 years must notify participants that the plan is running out of money.
Over 1.2 million people are now in about 100 “critical and declining” plans, PBGC says. As these plans become insolvent, participants’ benefits will be reduced to the amounts guaranteed by the PBGC under current law. In a recent insolvency, this resulted in benefit cuts of more than half for over 40% of the plan’s participants.
The timing of the Multiemployer Program’s insolvency is uncertain, PBGC says, as it depends on when the most troubled plans run out of money. The date a specific plan is projected to run out of funds depends upon how the pension plan investments perform and on other decisions made by the plan’s trustees and participants.
Most of the risk of the program running out of money falls during the years 2024 to 2026. PBGC predicts that it is more likely than not that the Multiemployer Program will deplete its assets by the end of fiscal 2025. The risk of program insolvency grows rapidly after 2025, exceeding 99% by 2036, notes PBGC.
President Trump’s FY 2018 Budget contains a proposal to shore up the PBGC multiemployer fund. The Budget proposes to create a new variable rate premium and an exit premium in the multiemployer program, estimated to raise an additional $16 billion in premium revenue over the 10-year budget window, according to PBGC.