PBGC Issues Final Guidance on Butch Lewis Act

PBGC Issues Final Guidance on Butch Lewis Act


For Immediate Release

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) on July 8 released a long-awaited final rule implementing the Special Financial Assistance Program (SFA) under the Butch Lewis Emergency Penson Plan Relief Act (BLA).

The BLA, passed in March 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, authorizes the U.S. Treasury Department to give funds to the PBGC so it can provide one-time grants designed to ensure that financially struggling underfunded multiemployer pension plans can survive well into the future and to protect and restore millions of workers and retirees’ pensions – money that will help them, their families and their communities.

The SFA Program addresses the financial crisis for plans and their members and also addresses the insolvency of the PBGC’s multiemployer insurance program, PBGC Director Gordon Hartogensis said during a July 6 press briefing. “The final rule makes thoughtful improvements to the interim final rule and puts severely underfunded pension plans on stronger financial footing.”

Ali Khawar, the acting assistant secretary of labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, added that the SFA program under the BLA is important because it secures the promise of a dignified retirement for millions of retirees “who did the right thing, showed up for work, worked hard and expected to have these benefits waiting for them when they retired.”

Reacting to the final rule’s release, Pension Rights Center Executive Director Karen Friedman said, “Workers and retirees in financially challenged multiemployer plans can now sleep better knowing that their pensions will be protected. We applaud the PBGC for making significant improvements to the interim rule, which will provide plans with greater resources and enhanced flexibility.”

In a fact sheet, PBGC highlighted some of the changes made by the final rule, including the following:

  • Allows plans to invest up to 33% of their SFA funds in return-seeking investments (e.g., publicly traded common stock and equity funds that invest primarily in public shares); with the remaining 67% restricted to high-quality fixed income investments.
  • Modifies the SFA calculation method to use separate interest rates for plans’ SFA and non-SFA assets; and aligns the interest rates used to calculate SFA with reasonable expectations of investment returns on plans’ SFA assets.
  • Provides a different methodology for the calculation of SFA for plans that implemented benefit suspensions under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA).

The Pension Rights Center is reviewing the newly issued final rule, which will take effect on August 8, 2022. The PRC is available, however, to discuss the final rule’s ramifications based on the Center’s preliminary analysis.

Contact Name: Karen Friedman

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