Defined Benefit Pensions: Plan Freezes Affect Millions of Participants and May Pose Retirement Income Challenges

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Private defined benefit (DB) pension plans are an important source of retirement income for millions of Americans. However, from 1990 to 2006, plan sponsors have voluntarily terminated over 61,000 sufficiently funded single-employer DB plans. An event preceding at least some of these terminations was a so-called plan "freeze"--an amendment to the plan to limit some or all future pension accruals for some or all plan participants. Available information that the government collects about frozen plans is limited in scope and may not be recent. GAO conducted ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. July 21, 2008.

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Private defined benefit (DB) pension plans are an important source of retirement income for millions of Americans. However, from 1990 to 2006, plan sponsors have voluntarily terminated over 61,000 sufficiently funded single-employer DB plans. An event preceding at least some of these terminations was a so-called plan "freeze"--an amendment to the plan to limit some or all future pension accruals for some or all plan participants. Available information that the government collects about frozen plans is limited in scope and may not be recent. GAO conducted a stratified probability sample survey of 471 single-employer DB plan sponsors out of a population of 7,804 (with 100 or more total plan participants) to gather more timely and detailed information about frozen plans. We have prepared this report under the Comptroller General's authority as part of our ongoing reassessment of risks associated with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's (PBGC) single-employer pension insurance program, which, in 2003, we placed on our high-risk list of programs that need broad-based transformations and warrant the attention of Congress and the executive branch. Frozen DB plans have possible implications for PBGC's long-term financial position. This report examines (1) the extent to which DB pension plans are frozen and the characteristics of frozen plans; and (2) the implications of these freezes for plan participants, plan sponsors, and the PBGC."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • July 21, 2008

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Defined Benefit Pensions: Plan Freezes Affect Millions of Participants and May Pose Retirement Income Challenges, report, July 21, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc299417/: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.