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Pension Funds

Most multiemployer plans remain well-funded – Segal Consulting survey

The majority of multiemployer pension plans are well funded, with 65% of them funded 80% or better, according to a survey by Segal Consulting released Monday.

By comparison, Segal found 66% of plans in 2015 were in the well-funded "green zone;" the aggregate funded status was 87%.

The average funded status since the financial crisis has been relatively stable, between 85% and 89%, Segal found.

The survey covers more than 200 plans with a calendar-year fiscal year, with an aggregate total of $100 billion in assets.

Diane Gleave, senior vice president and actuary for Segal, said in a statement that a recent focus on lesser-funded plans misses the point. Still, she noted, nearly a quarter of participants in the survey are in critical and declining plans, and nearly one-third are in critical plans.

Ms. Gleave said trustees of struggling plans are taking steps to improve their funded status that include plan design changes in contribution rates, revised investment policies and applying for benefit reductions under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act.

The most troubled plans, classified as critical and declining status plans, have a much higher percentage of inactive participants than all other plans, 87% vs. 63%.

Between 2016 and 2017, 11 calendar-year plans changed their funding zones, with five improving their status and six experiencing a decline.