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CCH® PENSION — 03/11/10

Final regs issued on PPA disclosure requirements for multiemployer plans

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued final regulations on the obligation of multiemployer plan administrators to disclose certain actuarial and financial information to participants and others. The proposed rules reflect the disclosure requirements mandated by the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA; P.L 109-280), embodied in ERISA 101(k). The final regulations are substantially the same as proposed rules issued in 2007.

EBSA said that the increased transparency resulting from the regulations will provide participants, beneficiaries, employee representatives, and contributing employers with a greater opportunity to monitor their plans' funding and financial status and to take appropriate action when necessary. "It also may help create a greater sense of accountability to plan participants and beneficiaries on the part of plan officials," according to an EBSA fact sheet.

ERISA 101(k), added by the PPA and applicable to plan years beginning after December 31, 2007, requires administrators of multiemployer pension plans to furnish upon written request certain documents to plan participants, beneficiaries, employee representatives, and employers with an obligation to contribute to the plan. The documents for which copies must be furnished are: (1) any periodic actuarial report received by the plan for any plan year which has been in the plan's possession for at least 30 days; (2) any quarterly, semi-annual, or annual financial report prepared for the plan by any plan investment manager or advisor or other fiduciary which has been in the plan's possession for at least 30 days; and (3) any application filed with the Secretary of the Treasury requesting an amortization extension, with the Secretary's determination pursuant to the application.

Obligation to furnish documents

The final regulations clarify that copies of the requested documents must be furnished by the plan administrator not later than 30 days after the date the written request is received, but the administrator is not required to furnish the requestor more than one copy of the same document within a 12-month period. The administrator is also permitted to charge the reasonable cost of providing the requested documents. The regulations define "reasonable" as the lesser of: (1) the actual cost to the plan for the least expensive means of acceptable document reproduction, or (2) 25 cents per page, plus the cost of mailing or delivering the document.

Scope of disclosures

The term "periodic actuarial report" as used in the regulations means any actuarial reports prepared by the plan actuary and received by the plan at regularly scheduled, recurring intervals. The term also includes studies, tests (including sensitivity tests), documents, analyses, or other information received by a plan from an actuary of the plan depicting alternative funding scenarios based on a range of alternative actuarial assumptions, whether or not received at regularly scheduled, recurring intervals.

The regulations do not require disclosure of information that a plan administrator reasonably determines to be either: (1) "individually identifiable information" with regard to a participant, beneficiary, employee, fiduciary, or contributing employer or (2) "proprietary information" regarding the plan, any contributing employer, or entity providing services to the plan.

For more information on this and related topics, consult the CCH Pension Plan Guide, CCH Employee Benefits Management, and Spencer's Benefits Reports.

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