Plan Adm. Didn't Violate ERISA by Using Old Mortality Tables

February 16, 2005 ( - A plan administrator did not abuse its discretion when using older mortality tables in calculating a lump sum to be rolled over into a 401(k) plan from a defined benefit scheme.

>US District Judge Ann Montgomery of the US District Court for the District of Minnesota has granted a summary judgment in the case brought against Blandin Paper Co., which in January 2003 terminated its defined benefit pension plan and created a 401(k) plan. Blandin, which administered the plan, did not err in using mortality tables issued before a Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) revised table was released in 1993.

>The suit was brought by participants who felt that the company undervalued their benefits by using an older “healthy male” mortality table rather than the newer unisex mortality assumptions. The company had used the older table from 1989 to 2003.

>In the ruling, Montgomery stated that by using the older tables the paper company did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) or plan documents. The PBGC unisex mortality table was intended to be used to calculate “de minimus” lump sums, Montgomery ruled, and were not meant to replace all other tables. She also found that the plan documents did not require the administrator to use the updated tables, as the suit had alleged.

>The ruling in Evren v. Blandin Paper Co. is available  here .