U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Nov 30, 2022

§ 4211.16 - Simplified methods for disregarding benefit reductions and benefit suspensions.

(a) In general. A plan sponsor may amend a plan without PBGC approval to adopt the simplified methods in this section to fulfill the requirements of section 305(g)(1) of ERISA and section 432(g)(1) of the Code and § 4211.6 to disregard benefit reductions and benefit suspensions.

(b) Basic rule. The withdrawal liability of a withdrawing employer is the sum of paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section, and then adjusted by paragraphs (A)-(D) of section 4201(b)(1) of ERISA. The amount determined under paragraph (b)(1) may not be less than zero.

(1) The amount that would be the employer's allocable amount of unfunded vested benefits determined in accordance with section 4211 of ERISA under the method in use by the plan without regard to § 4211.6 (but taking into account § 4211.4); and

(2) The employer's proportional share of the value of each of the benefit reductions and benefit suspensions required to be disregarded under § 4211.6 determined in accordance with this section.

(c) Benefit suspension. This paragraph (c) applies to a benefit suspension under § 4211.6(a)(3).

(1) General. The employer's proportional share of the present value of a benefit suspension as of the end of the plan year before the employer's withdrawal is determined by applying paragraph (c)(2) or (3) of this section to the present value of the suspended benefits, as authorized by the Department of the Treasury in accordance with section 305(e)(9) of ERISA, calculated either as of the date of the benefit suspension or as of the end of the plan year coincident with or following the date of the benefit suspension (the “authorized value”).

(2) Static value method. A plan may provide that the present value of the suspended benefits as of the end of the plan year in which the benefit suspension takes effect and for each of the succeeding 9 plan years is the authorized value in paragraph (c)(1) of this section. An employer's proportional share of the present value of a benefit suspension to which this paragraph (c) applies using the static value method is determined by multiplying the present value of the suspended benefits by a fraction -

(i) The numerator is the sum of all contributions required to be made by the withdrawing employer for the 5 consecutive plan years ending before the plan year in which the benefit suspension takes effect; and

(ii) The denominator is the total of all employers' contributions for the 5 consecutive plan years ending before the plan year in which the suspension takes effect, increased by any employer contributions owed with respect to earlier periods which were collected in those plan years, and decreased by any amount contributed by an employer that withdrew from the plan during those plan years. If a plan uses an allocation method other than the presumptive method in section 4211(b) of ERISA or similar method, the denominator after the first year is decreased by the contributions of any employers that withdrew from the plan and were unable to satisfy their withdrawal liability claims in any year before the employer's withdrawal.

(iii) In determining the numerator and the denominator in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, the rules under § 4211.4 (and permissible modifications under § 4211.12 and simplified methods under §§ 4211.14 and 4211.15) apply.

(3) Adjusted value method. A plan may provide that the present value of the suspended benefits as of the end of the plan year in which the benefit suspension takes effect is the authorized value in paragraph (c)(1) of this section and that the present value as of the end of each of the succeeding nine plan years (the “revaluation date”) is the present value, as of a revaluation date, of the benefits not expected to be paid after the revaluation date due to the benefit suspension. An employer's proportional share of the present value of a benefit suspension to which this paragraph (c) applies using the adjusted value method is determined by multiplying the present value of the suspended benefits by a fraction -

(i) The numerator is the sum of all contributions required to be made by the withdrawing employer for the 5 consecutive plan years ending before the employer's withdrawal; and

(ii) The denominator is the total of all employers' contributions for the 5 consecutive plan years ending before the employer's withdrawal, increased by any employer contributions owed with respect to earlier periods which were collected in those plan years, and decreased by any amount contributed by an employer that withdrew from the plan during those plan years.

(iii) In determining the numerator and the denominator in this paragraph (c)(3), the rules under § 4211.4 (and permissible modifications under § 4211.12 and simplified methods under §§ 4211.14 and 4211.15) apply.

(iv) If a benefit suspension in § 4211.6(a)(3) is a temporary suspension of the plan's payment obligations as authorized by the Department of the Treasury, the present value of the suspended benefits in this paragraph (c)(3) includes only the value of the suspended benefits through the ending period of the benefit suspension.

(d) Benefit reductions. This paragraph (d) applies to benefits reduced under § 4211.6(a)(1) or (2).

(1) Value of a benefit reduction. The value of a benefit reduction is -

(i) The unamortized balance, as of the end of the plan year before the withdrawal, of;

(ii) The value of the benefit reduction as of the end of the plan year in which the reduction took effect; and

(iii) Determined using the same assumptions as for unfunded vested benefits and amortization in level annual installments over a period of 15 years.

(2) Employer's proportional share of a benefit reduction. An employer's proportional share of the value of a benefit reduction to which this paragraph (d) applies is determined by multiplying the value of the benefit reduction by a fraction -

(i) The numerator is the sum of all contributions required to be made by the withdrawing employer for the 5 consecutive plan years ending before the employer's withdrawal; and

(ii) The denominator is the total of all employers' contributions for the 5 consecutive plan years ending before the employer's withdrawal, increased by any employer contributions owed with respect to earlier periods which were collected in those plan years, and decreased by any amount contributed by an employer that withdrew from the plan during those plan years.

(iii) The 5 consecutive plan years ending before the plan year in which the adjustable benefit reduction takes effect may be used in determining the numerator and the denominator in this paragraph (d). If such 5-year period is used, in determining the denominator, if a plan uses an allocation method other than the presumptive method in section 4211(b) of ERISA or similar method, the denominator after the first year is decreased by the contributions of any employers that withdrew from the plan and were unable to satisfy their withdrawal liability claims in any year before the employer's withdrawal.

(iv) In determining the numerator and the denominator in this paragraph (d), the rules under § 4211.4 (and permissible modifications under § 4211.12 and simplified methods under §§ 4211.14 and 4211.15) apply.

(e) Example. The simplified framework using the static value method under § 4211.16(c)(2) for disregarding a benefit suspension is illustrated by the following example.

(1) Facts. Assume that a calendar year multiemployer plan receives final authorization by the Secretary of the Treasury for a benefit suspension, effective January 1, 2018. The present value, as of that date, of the benefit suspension is $30 million. Employer A, a contributing employer, withdraws during the 2022 plan year. Employer A's proportional share of contributions for the 5 plan years ending in 2017 (the year before the benefit suspension takes effect) is 10 percent. Employer A's proportional share of contributions for the 5 plan years ending before Employer A's withdrawal in 2022 is 11 percent. The plan uses the rolling-5 method for allocating unfunded vested benefits to withdrawn employers under section 4211 of ERISA. The plan sponsor has adopted by amendment the static value simplified method for disregarding benefit suspensions in determining unfunded vested benefits. Accordingly, there is a one-time valuation of the initial value of the suspended benefits with respect to employer withdrawals occurring during the 2019 through 2028 plan years, the first 10 years of the benefit suspension.

(2) Unfunded vested benefits allocable to Employer A. To determine the amount of unfunded vested benefits allocable to Employer A, the plan's actuary first determines the amount of Employer A's withdrawal liability as of the end of 2021 assuming the benefit suspensions remain in effect. Under the rolling-5 method, if the plan's unfunded vested benefits as determined in the plan's 2021 plan year valuation were $170 million (not including the present value of the suspended benefits), the share of these unfunded vested benefits allocable to Employer A is equal to $170 million multiplied by Employer A's allocation fraction of 11 percent, or $18.7 million. The plan's actuary then adds to this amount Employer A's proportional 10 percent share of the $30 million initial value of the suspended benefits, or $3 million. Employer A's share of the plan's unfunded vested benefits for withdrawal liability purposes is $21.7 million ($18.7 million + $3 million).

(3) Adjustment of allocation fraction. If another significant contributing employer - Employer B - had withdrawn in 2019 and was unable to satisfy its withdrawal liability claim, the allocation fraction applicable to the value of the suspended benefits is adjusted. The contributions in the denominator for the last 5 plan years ending in 2017 is reduced by the contributions that were made by Employer B, thereby increasing Employer A's allocable share of the $30 million value of the suspended benefits.

(f) Effective and applicability dates - (1) Effective date. This section is effective on February 8, 2021.

(2) Applicability date. This section applies to employer withdrawals from multiemployer plans that occur in plan years beginning on or after February 8, 2021.

[86 FR 1274, Jan. 8, 2021]