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Our Perspective

2020 lessons learned – lump sum de-risking in the context of steeply declining interest rates

Defined benefit plan valuation interest rates have declined nearly 200 basis points since late 2018. Interest rate stabilization has significantly mitigated the effect of this decline on plan funding. GAAP accounting (e.g., balance sheet disclosure) is, however, indexed to current rates, and the steep declines in interest rates have presented a number of challenges and opportunities for defined benefit plan sponsors.

2021 Increases for Retirement Plans, Social Security

The Social Security Administration just announced benefit increases effective in 2021. Current retirees will receive a cost-of-living increase, beginning in January 2021, of 1.3%, reflecting the increase in CPI-W between the 3rd quarter of 2019 and the 3rd quarter of 2020.

Election 2020: 7 Things to Know About Joe Biden’s Tax Plan

With a presidential election coming up next month, tax policy will be one of the issues on the table. And, while it seems reasonable to assume that if President Trump were to be re-elected his tax policy would not change, we also know that if former Vice President Joe Biden gets elected, there will be changes.

September 2020 Pension Finance Update

Lower stock prices hit pensions during September. Both model plans we track lost ground last month, with Plan A dropping 2% and Plan B slipping 1% during the month. For the year, Plan A is now down 5% and Plan B is down more than 1% through the first three quarters of 2020.

Fourth Circuit allows legacy stock claim to proceed

On August 11, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit handed down its decision in Stegemann v. Gannett, ruling (in a 2-1 holding) that plaintiffs could proceed with their claim that a legacy stock fund in the Gannett 401(k) plan violated ERISA’s fiduciary prudence and diversification requirements.

Measuring UVBs for variable-rate premiums – the alternative vs. standard method election

Defined benefit plan sponsors that (1) currently using the standard (spot-rate) method to determine unfunded vested benefits (UVBs) for purposes of calculating Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation variable-rate premiums, and who (2) have the ability to elect to switch to the alternative (24-month average) method, may have an opportunity to reduce (in some cases significantly) 2020 variable-rate premiums by doing so.