DoL Issues Proposed Rules on Penalties for Failing to Adopt Funding Plan

September 3, 2009 ( - The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a regulation to assess civil penalties against plan sponsors of multiemployer defined benefit pension plans that fail to adopt a funding improvement or rehabilitation plan in accordance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) as amended by the Pension Protection Act (PPA).

The PPA amended ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code to require those plans certified to be in endangered or critical status to adopt a funding improvement plan or a rehabilitation plan within 240 days from the required date of the certification. The legislation gave the DoL authority to assess civil monetary penalties of up to $1,100 per day against plan sponsors that fail to timely adopt funding improvement or rehabilitation plans.  

The proposed regulation sets forth the administrative procedures for assessing and contesting such penalties. It will be published in the September 4 edition of the Federal Register .

The public may submit comments to the department at or through the federal e-rulemaking portal at .   Paper-based comments should be sent to the Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Room N-5655, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, Attention: Civil Penalties Under 502(c)(8).

Multiemployer plan sponsors were given some relief on the new funding plan requirement by section 204(a)(1) of the Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA), which provides that a multiemployer plan sponsor may elect that the plan’s funding status for the first plan year beginning on or after October 1, 2008, and not later than September 30, 2009, be the same as the plan’s status for the prior year (see Multiemployer Plans Get 60 More Days on WRERA Decisions ).

The sponsor of a multiemployer plan that was in endangered or critical status for the prior year, and for which an election is made under section 204, is not required to update its funding improvement plan, rehabilitation plan, or schedules as otherwise required until the plan year following the election year (see IRS Issues Guidance on Funding Relief ).