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Pension Plan Termination Insurance

Program Descriptions

Program Number



Pension Plan Termination Insurance


Federal Agency




Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), Title IV (Plan Termination Insurance), Public Law 93-406, as amended; Public Law 96-364; Multi-employer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980; Public Law 99-272; Single-Employer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1986; Pension Protection Act of 1987, Public Law 100- 203; Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989, Public Law 101-239; Retirement Protection Act of 1994, Public Law 103-465; Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002; Pension Funding Equity Act of 2004.






To encourage the continuation and maintenance of voluntary private pension plans for the benefit of their participants, to provide for the timely and uninterrupted payment of pension benefits to participants and beneficiaries in plans covered by the PBGC, and to maintain premiums charged by the PBGC at the lowest level consistent with carrying out its obligations.


Types of Assistance



Uses and Use Restrictions

Insurance coverage is mandatory for most private, defined benefit pension plans. A single-employer plan may terminate in a standard termination only if it has sufficient assets to provide all benefits, and in a voluntary distress termination only if the employer sponsoring the plan can satisfy specified distress criteria. Upon a voluntary distress termination or a termination initiated by the PBGC, the PBGC guarantees payment of nonforfeitable benefits under the terms of the plan within limits specified in the law. The guaranteed basic benefits payable to a participant or beneficiary under a covered single-employer plan may not exceed the actuarial value at the time of termination of a monthly benefit in the form of a life annuity commencing at age 65 equal to the lesser of: (1) A $750 adjusted annually to reflect changes in the Social Security contribution and benefit base since 1974, or (2) a participant's high consecutive five-year average monthly gross income. When covered plans or amendments to them are less than 5 years old at termination, benefits are guaranteed on a graduated basis. Benefits of persons defined as "substantial owners" are guaranteed on a 30-year graduated basis, subject to certain additional limits in the case of increased benefits due to plan amendment. For multi-employer plans there is a program of reorganization for plans with funding problems. The PBGC is required to extend financial assistance to insolvent multi-employer plans in order that they may be able to meet plan obligations for guaranteed benefits. Insurance coverage is mandatory for any plan that is an employee pension plan benefit established or maintained by: (1) An employer engaged in or affecting commerce; (2) an employee organization engaged in or affecting commerce; or (3) both, if certain requirements relating to the Internal Revenue Code are met. However, insurance coverage does not extend to any plan that is: (1) an individual account plan; (2) established and maintained for Federal, State or local government employees; (3) a church plan, unless the plan has made an election under 26 U.S.C. 410(d) and has notified PBGC of such election; (4) a plan that has not provided for employer contributions after September 2, 1974; (5) unfunded and maintained by an employer primarily to provide deferred compensation for a select group of management or highly compensated employees; (6) established and maintained outside of the U.S. primarily for the benefit of non-resident aliens; (7) maintained by an employer solely for the purpose of providing benefits for certain employees in excess of the limitations on contributions and benefits imposed by the Internal Revenue Code; (8) established and maintained exclusively for substantial owners; (9) that of an international organization that is exempt from taxation; (10) maintained solely for the purpose of complying with applicable workmen's compensation laws or unemployment compensation or disability insurance laws; or (11) established and maintained by a professional service employer that has not at any time since September 2, 1974, had more than 25 active participants.


Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Private businesses and organizations that maintain defined benefit plans and participants (and beneficiaries) in such plans.

Beneficiary Eligibility

All participants (and their beneficiaries) in covered single-employer pension plans may be potentially eligible for plan termination insurance payments. All covered multi-employer plans may be eligible for financial assistance needed to ensure payment of guaranteed benefits.


In support of a termination notice, information relating to plan asset sufficiency must be furnished by the plan administrator of a single-employer plan. Information relating to financial operations of the employer must also be furnished for a distress termination.


Application and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

None. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure

As soon as practicable after complying with certain statutory notice requirements, a plan administrator who intends to terminate a covered single-employer plan must submit to the PBGC either a standard termination notice or a distress termination notice depending on the type of termination sought. Applications relating to a standard or distress termination should be sent to PBGC, Processing and Technical Assistance Branch, 1200 K Street, N.W., Suite 930, Washington, DC 20005-4026. Applications for multi-employer plan matters should be made in accordance with applicable PBGC regulations and other published guidelines.

Award Procedure

The PBGC determines whether the assets of a covered single-employer plan that has notified the PBGC of its intent to terminate in a distress termination, or against which the PBGC has initiated termination proceedings, are sufficient to pay guaranteed benefits. If plan assets are found to be insufficient or the PBGC is unable to determine asset sufficiency, the PBGC will normally have itself named as trustee to administer the plan. The PBGC pays guaranteed benefits. The PBGC also pays other benefits funded by plan assets or recoveries from employers.


An annual premium must be paid for each covered plan generally no later than 9 1/2 months into the plan year, e.g., annual premiums are due October 15th for calendar-year plans (Form 1 or Form 1-EZ). Plans with 500 or more participants (for the prior year) generally must also file an estimated premium with the PBGC (for the current year) by the last day of the second full calendar month following the close of the prior plan year (Form 1-ES). Premiums must be paid through the plan year in which all plan benefits are distributed in a standard termination or a trustee is appointed under ERISA Section 4042. For further information or copies of forms contact: PBGC, Collection and Compliance Division, Suite 670, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026, Telephone (202) 326-4042 or 1-800-736-2444. Standard Termination: Notice of Intent to Terminate (NOIT). The plan administrator of a single-employer plan must issue a notice of intent to terminate the plan, by hand, mail, or electronic means reasonably calculated to ensure actual receipt, to each individual plan participant, beneficiary of a deceased participant, and union representing plan participants (but not to the PBGC) at least 60 days and no more than 90 days in advance of the proposed termination date. PBGC Notice: No later than 180 days after the proposed termination date the administrator must file with the PBGC a notice including, among other items, an enrolled actuary's certification that plan assets will be sufficient to provide all benefit liabilities as of the date of final distribution, with the underlying total asset and benefit values (Form 500). Notice of Plan Benefits: No later than the date the PBGC Notice is filed, the plan administrator must have provided information to each plan participant and beneficiary in plain language about his or her benefit, including the amount of that person's benefit, the form of benefit valued, and the factors (such as age, length of service, and actuarial assumptions) used in calculating the benefit. The plan administrator must also notify each plan participant and beneficiary of the identity of the insurer or insurers from whom the plan administrator intends to purchase annuities no later than 45 days before the date of distribution. Asset Distribution: The PBGC has 60 days after receipt of the PBGC Notice to determine whether the plan termination complies with the requirements for a standard termination. If the PBGC does not issue a Notice of Noncompliance and plan assets are sufficient to provide all benefit liabilities, the plan administrator may distribute the plan assets. The distribution must generally be completed within 180 days after the expiration of the 60-day review period and be done in accordance with plan provisions and PBGC regulations. If the plan administrator requests an IRS determination letter on or before the date of filing Form 500 with PBGC, the asset distribution deadline is extended to 120 days after the plan receives a favorable IRS determination letter. Within 30 days after final distribution of plan assets, the plan administrator must file with the PBGC a notice certifying that assets have been distributed as required (Form 501). However, PBGC will assess a penalty for a late filing only if it is filed more than 90 days after assets have been distributed. A terminating plan that is unable to locate an individual after a diligent search must either purchase an annuity for the individual and send annuity provider information to the PBGC or send the PBGC funds to pay for the individual's benefit (Schedule MP). Distress Termination Notice Requirements: The notice requirements for a distress termination differ from those for a standard termination in several ways: the 60-day to 90- day advance NOIT must be provided to the PBGC as well as to plan participants and other affected parties; the PBGC Notice (Form 601) must include information to demonstrate thateachcontributionsponsor and each member of the sponsor's controlled group meet at least one of the distress tests (liquidation, reorganization, business continuation, or unreasonable pension costs due to a declining workforce) as of the proposed termination date. A plan administrator must provide Notice of Plan Benefits to plan participants and beneficiaries in a distress termination only if the plan has sufficient assets to provide at least guaranteed benefits.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time



Any person aggrieved by an initial determination made by the PBGC which is covered by the appeals procedures may file an appeal. An appeal or a request for an extension of time to appeal should be submitted to the Appeals Board, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, Suite 480, NW, Washington, DC 20005-4026. In addition, the PBGC has the authority to review informally, upon request, determinations that are not covered by the appeals procedures when it determines that it would be appropriate to do so.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements


Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable, except as noted in USES AND USE RESTRICTIONS section of this program.


Post Assistance Requirements


An annual report (Form 5500 series) must be filed by the plan administrator with the Department of Labor no later than the last day of the seventh month after the close of the prior plan year, subject to extensions. Certain events that may indicate serious problems relating to a plan also must be reported to the PBGC, normally within 30 days after the plan administrator or contributing sponsor learns of them. Such reportable events include failure to meet minimum funding standards; bankruptcy, insolvency or similar settlements; liquidation or dissolution; or transactions involving a change of employer. In the case of certain privately held companies, the PBGC must be given 30 days advance notice of certain corporate or plan events. Controlled groups that have more than $50 million in unfunded vested benefits are required to provide plan actuarial and company financial information to the PBGC annually. Certain plans are required to provide participants annually with plan underfunding information, and to certify in the premium filing to the PBGC that they have provided the information.


The PBGC determines whether the assets of a covered single-employer plan (that has either notified the Corporation of its intent to terminate in a distress termination, or against which the Corporation has initiated termination proceedings) are sufficient to pay plan benefit liabilities. Title IV imposes liability on an employer that terminates an insufficient single-employer plan for the amount of unfunded benefit liabilities. The PBGC also audits a statistically significant number of single-employer plans terminated in a standard termination to ensure that assets were distributed in full satisfaction of all benefit liabilities. In addition, the PBGC audits premium filings.


Records to support or validate premium payments must be kept for 6 years from the premium due date. In addition, records maintenance requirements for pension plans are specified by the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, Department of Labor.


Financial Information

Account Identification



(Benefit payments) FY 07 est $4,797,000,000; FY 08 est $4,500,000,000; and FY 09 est not reported. (Financial Assistance to Multiemployer Plans) FY 07 $93,000,000; FY 08 est $106,000,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Monthly benefit range per retiree of PBGC's guarantee for plans terminating in 2006, in the single employer program: $10 to the maximum guarantee from PBGC funds of $3,971.59.


Program Accomplishments

The PBGC administers and insurance program guaranteeing certain pension benefits to 44.1 million participants in 30,300 private defined benefit pension plans. In FY 2005, there were 682,820 participants in pay status and 510,000 others eligible to receive benefits in the future.


Regulations, Guidelines and Literature

Title 29 CFR, Chapter 40; PBGC Form 1-ES Package; PBGC Form 1 Package (includes Form 1-EZ); PBGC Form 500 Package; Schedule MP Package; PBGC Form 600 Package; PBGC Form 200; PBGC Form 10; PBGC Form 10-Advance; PBGC's Home Page on the World Wide Web at


Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Individuals may contact PBGC through any Department of Labor, Pension Welfare Benefits Administration Regional Office listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20005-4026. Telephone: (202) 326-4000.

Web Site Address


Related Programs

17.150, Employee Benefits Security Administration


Examples of Funded Projects



Criteria for Selecting Proposals



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