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Pension lift out

Can anyone explain a pension lift out from the retiree's point of view.  My company has done a pension lift out for all current retirees.  Their letter says my monthly payments will not change but is not clear on whether my pension will continue as long as myself or my wife is still living.

Everything I find on Google is about the benifits to the company.  

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Bronze Conversationalist

@strodlw Depending on the retirees' knowledge of the underlying Pension Plan, there may be a myriad of points of view regarding a pension lift out. For example, some retiree's opinion may be negative believing their employer should continue to fund the Pension Plan and pay all the associated costs. Another retiree's opinion may be positive believing the Plan's Administrative Committee/Plan Administrator is taking appropriate steps to ensure pension benefits for existing retirees. As you may not know, Defined Benefit Pension Plans are costly and cumbersome to administer. They are subject to various compliance rules enacted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) which require certain funding levels and annual insurance premiums based on the Pension Plan's unfunded liabilities. PBGC insurance premiums can be a huge annual expense especially if the Pension Plan in question is underfunded. For 2022, a full funded pension plan pays a flat rate premium of $88 per participant. An underfunded pension plan pays the flat rate premium and an additional variable rate premium which is determined by the amount of underfunded liability. The 2022 cap for the variable premium is $598 per participant. So, if you have 1000 participants in a severely underfunded pension plan, the annual PBGC premium is $686,000 ($88 + $598 X 1,000). If a Plan has 10,000 participants, it is $6,860,000. There is an expression that may be applicable to the above situation. When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. One way to stop digging is to "lift out" existing retirees. As sktn77a pointed out, rising interest rates provide an incentive for both the pension plan and insurance companies to issue annuities to replace the monthly pensions. Higher interest rates help reduce the present value of you and your survivor's benefit, if elected, and provide adequate returns for the insurance companies to issue annuities. Remember, insurance companies have other lines of business such as life insurance which help their funding status with the States where they operate in. Your employer's lines of business may not be that robust. So, in the long run, you and your spouse may be more secure with an annuity from a sound insurance company. Some folks may believe that the PBGC provides the same level of insurance which may be the case in the short run. However, each year the PBGC provides an annual report which you may review at their website. It is long and discloses various financial statistics and projections. The short analysis that I will leave you with is the PBGC is addressing $105 Billion of underfunded pension liabilities as of their 2021 Annual Report. Obviously, that is the worst case scenario at that point in time when the equity markets were in an upward trend. However, if you follow the performance of the equity market in 2022, I suspect the PBGC 2022 Annual Report due around September 2023 will have greater unfunded pension liabilities. Hope this helps your understanding of the "pension lift out".   

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Honored Social Butterfly

@Tonster521 

That's very interesting - 

A question - Do "public" pensions have a failsafe like the PBGC?

Maybe they should. 😋

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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@GailL1 Government pension plans are exempt from ERISA. So, those plans do not have plan termination coverage via the PBGC which is part of ERISA. I suspect government pension plans (i.e., federal, state, local, police,fire, teachers,etc.) have a fail safe via their governmental employers' ability to levy taxes.

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Super Contributor

Yep, the government pension plan failsafe is..........  the taxpayer!!!

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Honored Social Butterfly


@Tonster521 wrote:

I suspect government pension plans (i.e., federal, state, local, police,fire, teachers,etc.) have a fail safe via their governmental employers' ability to levy taxes.


Yea, I figured - isn't that special !

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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I'm not an expert, but my understanding of a "lift out" is that the employer turns over the pension (fund) to an insurance company who invests it and pays out annuity payments to the pensioner.  The employer then has washed its hands of the pension, and the risk is transferred from the rmployer/PBGC to the insurance company/State Insurance guaranty department.  It shouldn't make any difference to you in terms of payouts/beneficiaries providing you benefit doesnt exceed the State guaranty limit.

When interest rates were low, insurance companies had little incentive to take this on, but now that they have increased, they can make a profit off these pension funds.  Companies just want to get them off their books as they are liabilities.

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