PBGC Unveils USERRA Final Rule

November 16, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The nation’s private-sector pension insurer on Monday unveiled a final rule making it easier for returning service members to receive pension and other benefit credits for time spent in the military.

A news release from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) said the rule implements provisions of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

That law provides that an individual who leaves a job to serve in the uniformed services is generally entitled to reemployment by the previous employer and, after being rehired, to receive credit for benefits, including employee pension plan benefits, that would have accrued but for the employee’s absence due to the military service.

The pension agency said the final rule provides that so long as a service member is reemployed within the time limits set by USERRA, even if the reemployment occurs after the plan’s termination date, PBGC will treat the service member as having satisfied the reemployment condition as of the termination date. PBGC officials said this will make certain the pension benefits of reemployed service members, like those of other employees, will generally be guaranteed for periods up to the plan’s termination date.

Under PBGC’s current benefit payments regulation, a benefit is guaranteed only if the participant satisfies the conditions for entitlement to the benefit on or before the plan’s termination date.

The final rule will appear in the Federal Register November 17, 2009, and become effective on December 17, 2009. The change will apply to reemployments under USERRA initiated on or after December 12, 1994.

The announcement said once the final rule is effective, PBGC will begin adjusting final benefit determinations of affected participants and make back payments with interest.