Mich. Non-Profit Group Plan Possible Distress Termination Candidate

November 2, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The United Way for Southeastern Michigan, which faces a funding shortfall of at least $22 million for its troubled group pension plan, is considering a distress termination, according to news reports.

A Crain’s Detroit Business news account said the move would bring in the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The PBGC is expected to be in Detroit Thursday to meet with the United Way and the 20 other non-profits that belong to the program.  T he plan represents more than 2,000 past and present employees.

According to the most recent financial data made available to plan members, the $22 million shortfall was at end of 2006 and included numbers for non-profit employers that disaffiliated at the end of that year.

The news account said the United Way for Southeastern Michigan had the biggest individual liability with a shortfall of $4.16 million. The two employers with the next-largest liabilities were Detroit-based
Catholic Social Services of Wayne County, with a shortfall of $2.23 million, and Adult Well Being Services in Detroit, with a shortfall of $1.15 million.

The plan was established in 1945 by United Community Services , (which merged with United Way in 1995), to lessen administrative costs and improve benefit coverage for smaller non-profits. It had been adequately funded until 2004, but poor market returns and declines in interest rates have increased agency liabilities.

In 2005, United Way froze the plan . Between then and July 2008, 20 agencies disaffiliated, creating mirror plans to cover current and former employees. Another five withdrew over the same period, paying their liabilities and leaving their past and present employees as “orphans” in the plan, according to the account.

United Way replaced itself as plan administrator and Mutual of America as recordkeeper for the plan in July 2008. Toledo-based Findley Davies Inc. is now responsible for recordkeeping, while Comerica Inc . is overseeing investments and retiree benefits.