PBGC Looking For A Few Good Comments

August 20, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) ? The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is requesting written comments on the extension of the existing collection of information related to the payment of premiums and annual financial and actuarial information reporting.

The PBGC notice says that the agency is making revisions to the collection of information related to the payment of premiums but is not making any changes to the collection of information related to annual financial and actuarial information.

Created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974, the PBGC acts as a guarantor of basic pension benefits for more than 43 million American workers and employees. The agency’s $21 billion budget is funded by insurance premiums paid by companies whose pension is covered by the PBGC. Returns from invested assets also help pay for operations.

Premium Particulars

With the payment of premiums, plans are also required to file certain forms and to make available records supporting or validating the computation of premiums paid. Those forms include:

  • PBGC Form 1-ES
  • PBGC Form 1-EZ
  • PBGC Form 1

Single-employer plans file Schedule A to Form 1, according to the notice.

The PBGC says it is revising the forms and instructions to clarify them and make them easier to use. The PBGC also said it intended to request, in conjunction with its extension of the existing collection of information, approval of the revised forms.

Early Warning

In a second notice, the PBGC notes that each member of a controlled group is required to submit identifying, financial, and actuarial information to the PBGC when:

  • the aggregate unfunded vested benefits of all defined benefit pension plans maintained by the controlled group exceed $50 million
  • the controlled group maintains any plan with missed contributions aggregating more than $1 million, or
  • the controlled group maintains any plan with funding waivers in excess of $1 million and any portion is still outstanding

That information allows the PBGC to detect and monitor financial problems with the contributing sponsors that maintain severely underfunded pension plans, as well as their controlled group members, according to the notice.

Furthermore, access to that information allows the PBGC to step in when it learns that a controlled group with severely underfunded pension plans intends to engage in a transaction that may significantly reduce the assets available to pay plan liabilities.

According to the notice, the PBGC is looking for written comments that address:

  • whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility
  • the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used
  • the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected
  • whether the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond is minimized, to include the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Written comments in response to each notice are due by Oct. 15 to the Office of the General Counsel, Suite 340, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20005.

The contact person for both notices is Deborah C. Murphy at (202) 326-4024