Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee asked Treasury Department officials to tread carefully as they develop the process for implementing multiemployer pension reforms enabling some plans to cut benefits.
“These reforms are unprecedented and, therefore, we ask the Treasury Department to take its role in overseeing the benefit suspension provisions very seriously. In particular, it is critical that you ensure that participants’ and retirees’ rights are protected,” Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ohio; Ron Wyden, Ore.; Debbie Stabenow, Mich.; Bill Nelson, Fla.; Robert Menendez, N.J.; Ben Cardin, Md.; and Robert Casey, Pa., said in a letter sent Thursday to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.
Mr. Brown, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, voted against the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 signed Dec. 16. The law gave the Treasury Department new authority to review applications from plans in “critical and declining” status to be able to reduce benefits for current and future retirees. Treasury has 180 days from enactment to publish guidance before applications will be accepted. Treasury officials are still building the process for handling those applications, which must also be approved by the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
The letter called for giving retiree representatives enough time to review documents and detailed information to participants about the voting process and benefit suspensions.