Multiemployer Plans Close 2015 Less Funded

The funded status declined from 79% at the end of June 2015 to 75% at the end of December.

In the second half of 2015, these pension plans experienced a funding percentage decrease of four percentage points, declining from 79% at the end of June to 75% at the close of 2015, according to Milliman’s Spring 2016 Multiemployer Pension Funding Study.

During that time, pension liabilities for these plans increased by $8 billion and the market value of assets declined by $18 billion, resulting in a $26 billion increase in the funded status shortfall. Since undergoing a minor rally in funded status that peaked in 2013, multiemployer pensions have experienced continued deterioration in funded status.  

“Multiemployer plans continued to be stuck in a rut in 2015,” says Kevin Campe, consulting actuary and co-author of the Multiemployer Pension Funding Study. “Currently, at least 76 plans with $28 billion of shortfall are projected to be insolvent at some point. These plans may be beyond help at this point, and several more may be headed this direction.”

In a recent report to Congress, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation said its program to help multiemployer plans is expected to run out of money by 2025.

Milliman says results from its study vary by plan. Of the plans studied, 192 were more than 100% funded at year end (compared to the 279 plans more than 100% funded as of June 30, 2015). The number of plans that are less than 65% funded grew from 214 to 264. The most poorly funded pensions are of particular interest, because plans in “critical and declining status” may reduce benefits in an effort to stay solvent. Currently, 31 of the critical plans who have reported results have stated they are projected to go insolvent before 2025, and this number could rise as more plans file their reports.

To view the complete study, go to