The House Ways and Means Committee approved a package of COVID-19 relief measures that includes reforms aimed at stabilizing struggling multiemployer pension funds.
The proposed Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 calls for resources for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. to to help financially troubled multiemployer plans with more retirees than active workers in any plan year beginning in 2020 through 2022. It would also increase the PBGC multiemployer plans premium rate to $52 a participant starting in calendar year 2031 and would then be indexed for inflation.
It also calls for some funding relief for single-employer plans, through extended amortization periods and pension interest rate smoothing changes.
The legislative package, approved Thursday, now moves to the House for expected approval and then to the Senate, where prospects for passage are less certain among Republicans concerned about the cost and other issues.
"We are certainly closer than we have ever been," said John F. Murphy, international vice president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in an interview. The Teamsters have modeled whether the pension provisions would be enough to prevent plan insolvencies, including Teamsters Central States, Southeast & Southwest Areas Pension Fund, Rosemont, Ill., based on the Form 5500 data as of 2018. "This bill will work," Mr. Murphy said. "The anxiety it will lift off the shoulders of retirees and their spouses is just tremendous."