An Actuarial Perspective on Pension Plan Funding

Donald J. Segal

Abstract — The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) was established by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to provide “insurance guarantees” for qualified pension plans insufficiently funded to provide accrued vested benefits. The PBGC’s annual reports on the liabilities for plans it has taken over and the agency’s assets show that the Single Employer Program has seen this “net position” vary from a surplus of almost $10 billion in 2000, to a deficit of over $29 billion in 2012. The PBGC uses a proprietary Pension Insurance Modeling System to model future scenarios for their obligations. This paper offers observations on future pension plan funding and how this could affect the PIMS model, based on the current environment, and how the agency might respond to change.