PBGC Updates ERISA Title IV Determination Instructions

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation has published a new form and instructions with the goal of streamlining and simplifying the ERISA Title IV coverage determination process.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) this week released a new form and related instructions for fiduciaries requesting determination about whether their retirement plan is covered under Title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Title IV of ERISA governs the plan termination insurance program that covers defined benefit pension plans. Among other elements, Title IV of ERISA is used to determine liability for PBGC termination premiums.

The PBGC says it released the form and instructions after receiving approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and that the form was created to streamline and simplify the coverage determination process. The instructions explain that in limited circumstances, under a one-year pilot program, employers may also use the form to request an opinion letter about whether a plan in the process of being created is likely to be covered by PBGC.

According to the PBGC, the four plan types for which coverage determinations are most frequently requested are church plans as listed in Section 4021(b)(3) of ERISA; plans that are established and maintained exclusively for the benefit of plan sponsors’ substantial owners as listed in Section 4021(b)(9); plans established and maintained by professional services employers, as listed in Section 4021(b)(13) that, since September 2, 1974, have covered no more than 25 active participants; and Puerto Rico-based plans within the meaning of Section 1022(i)(1) of ERISA.

A number of DB plans that have been determined to qualify for church-plan status by the IRS have had that status challenged in lawsuits. But, the PGGC tells PLANSPONSOR, the new form and instructions do not tie to the lawsuits, and the purpose of the coverage form is simply to ease the process by which people can make a request for a coverage determination.