By Michael Lee
On October 3, 2017 the Department of Treasury and IRS released final regulations on the mortality tables plan sponsors must use beginning in 2018 for defined benefit plans, per the Pension Protection Act of 2006. These tables are to be used to determine funding requirements, lump sum calculations and other acceleration of benefit calculations. On October of 2014, the tables were released in two reports released by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), the RP-2014 Mortality Tables Report and the Mortality Improvement Scale MP-2014 Report. Each of these reports contained new mortality assumptions recommended for valuing private-sector pension liabilities.
Interest rates are key to deciding upon de-risking moves as they drive the liabilities, lump sums, the cost of annuities, the value of fixed income assets, and the cost of financing. Such transactions always seem to come down to interest rates.
Generally speaking, as interest rates increase, liabilities are driven lower – and the cost of lump sums and annuities decrease. So, other things remaining the same (which they never do, of course), firms tend to wait for rates to move higher if they are anticipating de-risking moves.
As the GAO, DOL, IRS and others have noted, the current process of offering lump sum elections during lump sum windows and terminations leaves much to be desired. So much so that the title of the GAO’s landmark 2015 report reads:.
“Participants Need Better Information When Offered Lump Sums That Replace Their Lifetime Benefits"
February 2015, U.S. General Accounting Office
We couldn’t agree more…