Blackouts Last Weeks to Several Months

February 19, 2002 ( - Transaction blackouts in participant-directed retirement plans have lasted between three and four weeks on average and can go as long as two months or longer.

That was one of the results from a survey by The American Society of Pension Actuaries (ASPA) of 250 firms responsible for administering over 85,000 plans.

The ASPA survey also found:

  • that companies typically provide a 30-day advance notice of a pending blackout
  • lockouts are infrequent – they generally occur once every three or four years

ASPA researchers said blackout periods are particularly hard for plans sponsored by small businesses because they generally lack the technology necessary to make the process of transferring plan records and assets go more quickly. 

Three quarters of these plans are maintained by small businesses, the survey found.

ASPA plans to use the data to help form a lobbying position for the ongoing Congressional debate over retirement plan limits in the wake of Enron’s collapse.

Enron employees have charged in a flurry of lawsuits that a transaction blackout kept them from selling company stock while its share value was plummeting.

Read more at A Change in Plans: The Enron Conversion

Read more at Enron Emails Shed Light on Blackout

Read more at Congress Proposes Limits on Employer Stock, Blackouts

Read more at Recordkeepers: Blackouts Can be Shorter