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Proposed Rule

Valuation of Benefits; Mortality Assumptions

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation proposes to amend its benefit valuation regulation by adopting more current mortality assumptions Start Printed Page 12430(moving from a version of GAM-83 to a version of GAM-94). The updated mortality assumptions will better conform to those used by private-sector insurers in pricing group annuities.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before May 13, 2005.

ADDRESSES:

Comments may be mailed or delivered to the Legislative and Regulatory Department, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026. Comments also may be submitted electronically through the PBGC's Web site at http://www.pbgc.gov/​regs, or by fax to (202) 326-4112. The PBGC will make all comments available on its Web site, http://www.pbgc.gov. Copies of the comments may also be obtained by writing to the PBGC's Communications and Public Affairs Department at Suite 240 at the above address or by visiting that office or calling (202) 326-4040 during normal business hours. (TTY and TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to (202) 326-4040.)

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

James J. Armbruster, Acting Director, or James L. Beller, Attorney, Legislative and Regulatory Department, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026, (202) 326-4024. (TTY and TTD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to (202) 326-4024.)

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The PBGC's regulations provide rules for valuing benefits in a single-employer plan that terminates in a distress or involuntary termination. (The rules are codified at 29 CFR part 4044, subpart B.) The PBGC uses these rules to determine: (1) The extent to which participants' benefits are funded under the allocation rules of ERISA section 4044, (2) whether a plan is sufficient for guaranteed benefits, and (3) how much an employer owes the PBGC as a result of a plan termination under ERISA section 4062. Employers must use these rules to determine the value of plan benefit liabilities in annual reports required to be submitted under ERISA section 4010, and may use these rules to ensure that plan spinoffs, mergers, and transfers comply with Internal Revenue Code section 414(l).

General Valuation Approach

The valuation rules prescribe a number of assumptions intended to produce reasonable valuation results on average for the range of plans terminating in distress or involuntary terminations, rather than for any particular plan or plan type. Historically, the PBGC has matched, to the extent possible, the private-sector annuity market when prescribing assumptions for valuing benefits in a terminating plan.

To determine the market cost of providing annuity benefits, the PBGC has relied upon data from periodic surveys conducted for the PBGC by the American Council of Life Insurers (the ACLI surveys). These ACLI surveys ask insurers for pricing information on group annuities. Each respondent to the surveys provides its prices (net of administrative expenses) for a range of ages for immediate annuities (annuities where payments start immediately) and for deferred annuities (annuities where payments are deferred to age 65). Prices of each of the two types of annuities are averaged at each age to get an average market price. The PBGC then derives an interest factor that, when combined with the PBGC's healthy-life mortality assumptions, provides the best fit for the average market prices (as obtained from the ACLI surveys) over the entire range of ages. The interest factor is recalibrated to the annuity survey prices each year. Each month between recalibrations, the PBGC adjusts the interest factor based on changes in the yield on long-term corporate investment-grade bonds. The interest factor is then used in conjunction with the PBGC's mortality assumptions (and other PBGC assumptions) to value annuity benefits.

These derived interest factors are not market interest rates. The factors stand in for all the many components used in annuity pricing that are not reflected in the given mortality table—e.g., assumed yield on investment, margins for profit and contingencies, premium and income taxes, and marketing and sales expenses. Because of the relationship among annuity prices, a mortality table, and the derived interest factors, it is never meaningful to compare PBGC's interest factors to market interest rates. The PBGC's interest factor is meaningful only in combination with the PBGC's mortality assumptions.

Mortality Assumptions

One set of assumptions prescribed by the valuation regulation relates to the probabilities that a participant (or beneficiary) will survive to each expected benefit payment date, i.e., mortality assumptions. The mortality assumptions now used by the PBGC to value benefits for non-disabled (“healthy”) participants are taken from the 1983 Group Annuity Mortality (GAM-83) Tables. The PBGC shifted to these tables in 1993, noting in its preamble to the proposed rule (at 58 FR 5129) that many private-sector insurers had shifted to the GAM-83 Tables when setting group annuity prices. The PBGC also said (at 58 FR 5129) that it intended “to keep each of its individual valuation assumptions in line with those of private-sector insurers, and to modify its mortality assumptions whenever it is necessary to do so to achieve consistency with the private insurer assumptions.” The PBGC has not updated these mortality assumptions since 1993. (There is no reason to expect that the PBGC's mortality tables under this regulation will match the tables prescribed for certain funding purposes under Treasury Regulations at any point in time. The PBGC's mortality tables are based on the mortality experience of group annuitants. In contrast, the tables to be used for certain minimum funding purposes are based on the mortality experience of individuals covered by pension plans. Group annuitants, many of whom have chosen to receive their benefits as annuities rather than as lump sums, tend to have longer life expectancies than individuals covered by pension plans.)

As noted, the ACLI periodically conducts surveys, on behalf of the PBGC, of insurers who provide group annuity contracts for information on how they price group annuities. In addition to other pricing questions, the ACLI from time to time has asked for information on which mortality tables the insurers use when pricing group annuities in pension plans. A majority of respondents indicated that, as of March 31, 2002, they use a version of the 1994 Group Annuity Mortality Basic (GAM-94 Basic) Table and project future improvements in mortality with projection scale AA. Similarly, the Society of Actuaries sponsored a survey of pricing actuaries for insurers who provide group annuity contracts and found that five of the ten respondents used a version of the GAM-94 Table. 30-Year Treasury Rates and Defined Benefit Plans, August 22, 2001, p. 5. That survey also found that most companies projected future improvements and that the most common projection scale was AA.

Based on these surveys, the PBGC proposes to use the GAM-94 Basic Table as the basis for the healthy-life mortality assumptions it uses for its valuation of plan benefits. Specifically, for a particular valuation, the PBGC would use the GAM-94 Basic Table projected to the year of that valuation plus 10 years using Scale AA. The updated mortality assumptions now being proposed will permit the PBGC to derive interest factors that, when combined with those updated mortality Start Printed Page 12431assumptions, would enable the PBGC to match the ACLI survey prices more closely across the entire range of ages than had GAM-83 been used.

The PBGC is proposing to use a projected mortality table to take into account expected improvements in mortality. In order to avoid undue complexity, the PBGC proposes to use a projected static table rather than a generational table. (A generational table takes into account expected mortality improvements but in a far more complex manner than does a projected static table.) The projection would be to the year of valuation plus 10 years as a rough approximation for the duration of liabilities in plans that terminate in distress or involuntary terminations. For example, the probability of death for a 65-year old healthy male to be used in a valuation in 2005 would be calculated as follows: .015629 × (1 − .014)(2005 −1994 + 10) = .011624. The PBGC would publish the projected mortality tables on its Web site (http://www.pbgc.gov).

Because of the way the PBGC determines its interest factors, the choice of mortality assumptions generally would have no significant effect on benefit valuations. The effect that a change in mortality assumptions would have on valuations is generally offset by the effect of the corresponding change in the PBGC's interest factors. For example, the proposed use of GAM-94 mortality assumptions would result in the PBGC's deriving higher interest factors than would the use of GAM-83 mortality assumptions (because GAM-94 has lower mortality rates than GAM-83). When those higher interest factors are combined with GAM-94, the resulting value for a given benefit would generally be about the same as it would have been had the PBGC used GAM-83 along with the lower interest factors derived from the ACLI surveys using GAM-83. (For a more detailed explanation, see the preambles to the PBGC's proposed rule published on January 19, 1993, at 58 FR 5128, and final rule published on September 28, 1993, at 58 FR 50812.)

In addition to the mortality assumptions for healthy individuals, the current regulation provides two other sets of mortality assumptions: (1) Those for participants who are disabled under a plan provision requiring eligibility for Social Security disability benefits (Social Security disabled participants), and (2) those for participants who are disabled under a plan provision that does not require eligibility for Social Security disability benefits (non-Social Security disabled participants).

As with the mortality assumptions for healthy individuals, the PBGC proposes to update the mortality assumptions used for disabled participants. For Social Security disabled participants, the PBGC proposes to use the Mortality Tables for Disabilities Occurring in Plan Years Beginning After December 31, 1994, from Rev. Rul. 96-7 (1996-1 C.B. 59). These tables were developed by the Internal Revenue Service as required by the Retirement Protection Act of 1994 amendments relating to the determination of current liability. For non-Social Security disabled participants, the PBGC proposes to use the healthy life tables projected from 1994 to the calendar year in which the valuation date occurs plus 10 years using Scale AA and setting the resulting table forward three years. In addition, in order to prevent the rates at the older ages from exceeding the corresponding rates in the proposed table for Social Security disabled participants, the PBGC proposes to cap the mortality rate for non-Social Security disabled participants at the corresponding rate for Social Security disabled participants. For convenience, the PBGC would make all of these mortality tables (like the healthy-life mortality tables) available on its Web site (http://www.pbgc.gov).

The PBGC is also proposing a clarifying change to this regulation to reflect its practice of treating a participant as a disabled participant if on the valuation date the participant is under age 65 and has a benefit that was converted under the plan's terms from a disability benefit to an early or normal retirement benefit for any reason other than a change in the participant's health status. In developing this proposed rule, the PBGC considered the comments relating to its mortality assumptions that it received in response to its notice of intent to propose rulemaking issued on March 19, 1997 (62 FR 12982). The PBGC adopted a number of the suggestions made by commenters. For instance, one commenter suggested the PBGC should not adopt a reserving table (i.e., a table that includes a built-in margin to provide a cushion for reserving purposes). Another commenter asked the PBGC to adopt a static table rather than a generational table. The tables proposed by PBGC are basic (nonreserve) static tables.

Several commenters asked the PBGC to provide mortality assumptions that vary depending on industry or workforce type or that vary on a plan-specific basis. The proposal does not adopt either of these approaches. As discussed above, the PBGC selects its mortality assumptions with the goal of achieving consistency with the mortality assumptions used by private-sector insurers for pricing group annuity contracts. To this end, ACLI respondents were asked to identify the mortality tables they used and any variations to those tables. Neither the proposed GAM 94-Basic Table, the most commonly identified table, nor any of the other tables identified by the survey respondents provided mortality assumptions that vary depending on industry or workforce type. Moreover, none of the survey respondents reported that they make modifications or adjustments based on industry or workforce type. As for the use of plan-specific mortality assumptions, the PBGC's general valuation approach is to apply a common set of assumptions (e.g., mortality, expected retirement age) to all plans with the goal of producing reasonable results on average. Shifting to a plan-specific approach for mortality would be a fundamental change that could require burdensome verification procedures. Therefore, the PBGC proposes to continue to use more general mortality assumptions that, like its other assumptions, produce reasonable results on average.

Other Changes to Valuation Regulation

The PBGC will continue to explore other ways to improve its benefit valuation regulations and may make other changes through separate rulemaking actions.

Compliance With Rulemaking Guidelines

The PBGC has determined, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, that this proposed rule is a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866. The Office of Management and Budget has therefore reviewed this proposed rule under Executive Order 12866. The Office of Management and Budget, therefore, has reviewed this proposed rule under Executive Order 12866.

The PBGC certifies under section 605(b) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act that this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As explained earlier in this preamble, the effect on a plan valuation of the change in the PBGC's mortality assumptions will be offset by the effect on that plan's valuation of the PBGC's use of higher interest factors. Because of this offsetting effect, the PBGC does not expect this proposed rule to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of entities of any size. Accordingly, sections 603 and 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act do not apply.

Start List of Subjects Start Printed Page 12432

List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 4044

End List of Subjects

For the reasons set forth above, the PBGC proposes to amend part 4044 of 29 CFR chapter XL as follows:

Start Part

PART 4044—ALLOCATION OF ASSETS IN SINGLE-EMPLOYER PLANS

1. The authority citation for part 4044 continues to read as follows:

Start Authority

Authority: 29 U.S.C. 1301(a), 1302(b)(3), 1341, 1344, and 1362.

End Authority
[Amended]

2. Amend § 4044.52 by adding the word “and” to the end of paragraph (c), removing paragraph (d), and redesignating paragraph (e) as paragraph (d).

3. Revise § 4044.53 to read as follows:

Mortality assumptions.

(a) General rule. Subject to paragraph (b) of this section (regarding certain death benefits), the plan administrator shall use the mortality factors prescribed in paragraphs (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g) of this section to value benefits under § 4044.52.

(b) Certain death benefits. If an annuity for one person is in pay status on the valuation date, and if the payment of a death benefit after the valuation date to another person, who need not be identifiable on the valuation date, depends in whole or in part on the death of the pay status annuitant, then the plan administrator shall value the death benefit using—

(1) The mortality rates that are applicable to the annuity in pay status under this section to represent the mortality of the pay status annuitant; and

(2) The mortality rates under paragraph (c) of this section to represent the mortality of the death beneficiary.

(c) Healthy lives. If the individual is not disabled under paragraph (f) of this section, the plan administrator will value the benefit using—

(1) For male participants, the rates in Table 1 of Appendix A to this part projected from 1994 to the calendar year in which the valuation date occurs plus 10 years using Scale AA from Table 2 of Appendix A to this part; and

(2) For female participants, the rates in Table 3 of Appendix A to this part projected from 1994 to the calendar year in which the valuation date occurs plus 10 years using Scale AA from Table 4 of Appendix A to this part.

(d) Social Security disabled lives. If the individual is Social Security disabled under paragraph (f)(1) of this section, the plan administrator will value the benefit using—

(1) For male participants, the rates in Table 5 of Appendix A to this part; and

(2) For female participants, the rates in Table 6 of Appendix A to this part.

(e) Non-Social Security disabled lives. If the individual is non-Social Security disabled under paragraph (f)(2) of this section, the plan administrator will value the benefit at each age using—

(1) For male participants, the lesser of—

(i) The rate determined from Table 1 of Appendix A to this part projected from 1994 to the calendar year in which the valuation date occurs plus 10 years using Scale AA from Table 2 of Appendix A to this part and setting the resulting table forward three years, or

(ii) The rate in Table 5 of Appendix A to this part.

(2) For female participants, the lesser of—

(i) The rate determined from Table 3 of Appendix A to this part projected from 1994 to the calendar year in which the valuation date occurs plus 10 years using Scale AA from Table 4 of Appendix A to this part and setting the resulting table forward three years, or

(ii) The rate in Table 6 of Appendix A to this part.

(f) Definitions of disability.

(1) Social Security disabled. A participant is Social Security disabled if, on the valuation date, the participant is less than age 65 and has a benefit in pay status that—

(i) Is being received as a disability benefit under a plan provision requiring either receipt of or eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, or

(ii) Was converted under the plan's terms from a disability benefit under a plan provision requiring either receipt of or eligibility for Social Security disability benefits to an early or normal retirement benefit for any reason other than a change in the participant's health status.

(2) Non-Social Security disabled. A participant is non-Social Security disabled if, on the valuation date, the participant is less than age 65, is not Social Security disabled, and has a benefit in pay status that—

(i) Is being received as a disability benefit under the plan, or

(ii) Was converted under the plan's terms from a disability benefit to an early or normal retirement benefit for any reason other than a change in the participant's health status.

(g) Contingent annuitant mortality during deferral period. If a participant's joint and survivor benefit is valued as a deferred annuity, the mortality of the contingent annuitant during the deferral period will be disregarded.

4. Revise Appendix A to part 4044 to read as follows:

Appendix A To Part 4044—Mortality Rate Tables

The mortality tables in this appendix set forth for each age x the probability qx that an individual aged x (in 1994, when using Table 1 or Table 3) will not survive to attain age x + 1. The projection scales in this appendix set forth for each age x the annual reduction AAx in the mortality rate at age x.

Table 1.—Mortality Table for Healthy Male Participants (94 GAM Basic)

Age xqx
150.000371
160.000421
170.000463
180.000495
190.000521
200.000545
210.000570
220.000598
230.000633
240.000671
250.000711
260.000749
270.000782
280.000811
290.000838
300.000862
310.000883
320.000902
330.000912
340.000913
350.000915
360.000927
370.000958
380.001010
390.001075
400.001153
410.001243
420.001346
430.001454
440.001568
450.001697
460.001852
470.002042
480.002260
490.002501
500.002773
510.003088
520.003455
530.003854
540.004278
550.004758
560.005322
570.006001
580.006774
590.007623
600.008576
610.009663
620.010911
630.012335
640.013914
650.015629
660.017462
670.019391
680.021354
690.023364
700.025516
Start Printed Page 12433
710.027905
720.030625
730.033549
740.036614
750.040012
760.043933
770.048570
780.053991
790.060066
800.066696
810.073780
820.081217
830.088721
840.096358
850.104559
860.113755
870.124377
880.136537
890.149949
900.164442
910.179849
920.196001
930.213325
940.231936
950.251189
960.270441
970.289048
980.306750
990.323976
1000.341116
1010.358560
1020.376699
1030.396884
1040.418855
1050.440585
1060.460043
1070.475200
1080.485670
1090.492807
1100.497189
1110.499394
1120.500000
1130.500000
1140.500000
1150.500000
1160.500000
1170.500000
1180.500000
1190.500000
1201.000000

Table 2.—Projection Scale AA for Healthy Male Participants

Age xAAx
150.019
160.019
170.019
180.019
190.019
200.019
210.018
220.017
230.015
240.013
250.010
260.006
270.005
280.005
290.005
300.005
310.005
320.005
330.005
340.005
350.005
360.005
370.005
380.006
390.007
400.008
410.009
420.010
430.011
440.012
450.013
460.014
470.015
480.016
490.017
500.018
510.019
520.020
530.020
540.020
550.019
560.018
570.017
580.016
590.016
600.016
610.015
620.015
630.014
640.014
650.014
660.013
670.013
680.014
690.014
700.015
710.015
720.015
730.015
740.015
750.014
760.014
770.013
780.012
790.011
800.010
810.009
820.008
830.008
840.007
850.007
860.007
870.006
880.005
890.005
900.004
910.004
920.003
930.003
940.003
950.002
960.002
970.002
980.001
990.001
1000.001
1010.000
1020.000
1030.000
1040.000
1050.000
1060.000
1070.000
1080.000
1090.000
1100.000
1110.000
1120.000
1130.000
1140.000
1150.000
1160.000
1170.000
1180.000
1190.000
1200.000

Table 3.—Mortality Table for Healthy Female Participants (94 GAM Basic)

Age xqx
150.000233
160.000261
170.000281
180.000293
190.000301
200.000305
210.000308
220.000311
230.000313
240.000313
250.000313
260.000316
270.000324
280.000338
290.000356
300.000377
310.000401
320.000427
330.000454
340.000482
350.000514
360.000550
370.000593
380.000643
390.000701
400.000763
410.000826
420.000888
430.000943
440.000992
450.001046
460.001111
470.001196
480.001297
490.001408
500.001536
510.001686
Start Printed Page 12434
520.001864
530.002051
540.002241
550.002466
560.002755
570.003139
580.003612
590.004154
600.004773
610.005476
620.006271
630.007179
640.008194
650.009286
660.010423
670.011574
680.012648
690.013665
700.014763
710.016079
720.017748
730.019724
740.021915
750.024393
760.027231
770.030501
780.034115
790.038024
800.042361
810.047260
820.052853
830.058986
840.065569
850.072836
860.081018
870.090348
880.100882
890.112467
900.125016
910.138442
920.152660
930.167668
940.183524
950.200229
960.217783
970.236188
980.255605
990.276035
1000.297233
1010.318956
1020.340960
1030.364586
1040.389996
1050.415180
1060.438126
1070.456824
1080.471493
1090.483473
1100.492436
1110.498054
1120.500000
1130.500000
1140.500000
1150.500000
1160.500000
1170.500000
1180.500000
1190.500000
1201.000000

Table 4.—Projection Scale AA for Healthy Female Participants

Age xAAx
150.016
160.015
170.014
180.014
190.015
200.016
210.017
220.017
230.016
240.015
250.014
260.012
270.012
280.012
290.012
300.010
310.008
320.008
330.009
340.010
350.011
360.012
370.013
380.014
390.015
400.015
410.015
420.015
430.015
440.015
450.016
460.017
470.018
480.018
490.018
500.017
510.016
520.014
530.012
540.010
550.008
560.006
570.005
580.005
590.005
600.005
610.005
620.005
630.005
640.005
650.005
660.005
670.005
680.005
690.005
700.005
710.006
720.006
730.007
740.007
750.008
760.008
770.007
780.007
790.007
800.007
810.007
820.007
830.007
840.007
850.006
860.005
870.004
880.004
890.003
900.003
910.003
920.003
930.002
940.002
950.002
960.002
970.001
980.001
990.001
1000.001
1010.000
1020.000
1030.000
1040.000
1050.000
1060.000
1070.000
1080.000
1090.000
1100.000
1110.000
1120.000
1130.000
1140.000
1150.000
1160.000
1170.000
1180.000
1190.000
1200.000

Table 5.—Mortality Table for Social Security Disabled Male Participants

Age xqx
150.022010
160.022502
170.023001
180.023519
190.024045
200.024583
210.025133
220.025697
230.026269
240.026857
250.027457
260.028071
270.028704
280.029345
290.029999
300.030661
310.031331
320.032006
330.032689
340.033405
350.034184
360.034981
370.035796
380.036634
390.037493
400.038373
Start Printed Page 12435
410.039272
420.040189
430.041122
440.042071
450.043033
460.044007
470.044993
480.045989
490.046993
500.048004
510.049021
520.050042
530.051067
540.052093
550.053120
560.054144
570.055089
580.056068
590.057080
600.058118
610.059172
620.060232
630.061303
640.062429
650.063669
660.065082
670.066724
680.068642
690.070834
700.073284
710.075979
720.078903
730.082070
740.085606
750.088918
760.092208
770.095625
780.099216
790.103030
800.107113
810.111515
820.116283
830.121464
840.127108
850.133262
860.139974
870.147292
880.155265
890.163939
900.173363
910.183585
920.194653
930.206615
940.219519
950.234086
960.248436
970.263954
980.280803
990.299154
1000.319185
1010.341086
1020.365052
1030.393102
1040.427255
1050.469531
1060.521945
1070.586518
1080.665268
1090.760215
1101.000000

Table 6.—Mortality Table for Social Security Disabled Female Participants

Age xqx
150.007777
160.008120
170.008476
180.008852
190.009243
200.009650
210.010076
220.010521
230.010984
240.011468
250.011974
260.012502
270.013057
280.013632
290.014229
300.014843
310.015473
320.016103
330.016604
340.017121
350.017654
360.018204
370.018770
380.019355
390.019957
400.020579
410.021219
420.021880
430.022561
440.023263
450.023988
460.024734
470.025504
480.026298
490.027117
500.027961
510.028832
520.029730
530.030655
540.031609
550.032594
560.033608
570.034655
580.035733
590.036846
600.037993
610.039176
620.040395
630.041653
640.042950
650.044287
660.045666
670.046828
680.048070
690.049584
700.051331
710.053268
720.055356
730.057573
740.059979
750.062574
760.065480
770.068690
780.072237
790.076156
800.080480
810.085243
820.090480
830.096224
840.102508
850.109368
860.116837
870.124948
880.133736
890.143234
900.153477
910.164498
920.176332
930.189011
940.202571
950.217045
960.232467
970.248870
980.266289
990.284758
1000.303433
1010.327385
1020.359020
1030.395842
1040.438360
1050.487816
1060.545886
1070.614309
1080.694884
1090.789474
1101.000000
Start Signature

Issued in Washington, DC, this 8th day of March, 2005.

Bradley D. Belt,

Executive Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

End Signature
End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 05-4950 Filed 3-11-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7708-01-P