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Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans; Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Valuing and Paying Benefits

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's regulations on Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans and Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans prescribe interest assumptions for valuing and paying certain benefits under terminating single-employer plans. This final rule amends the asset allocation regulation to adopt interest assumptions for plans with valuation dates in the second quarter of 2009 and amends the benefit payments regulation to adopt interest assumptions for plans with valuation dates in April 2009. Interest assumptions are also published on PBGC's Web site (http://www.pbgc.gov).

DATES:

Effective April 1, 2009.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Catherine B. Klion, Manager, Regulatory and Policy Division, Legislative and Regulatory Department, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005, 202-326-4024. (TTY/TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4024.)

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

PBGC's regulations prescribe actuarial assumptions—including interest assumptions—for valuing and paying plan benefits of terminating single-employer plans covered by title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The interest assumptions are intended to reflect current conditions in the financial and annuity markets.

These interest assumptions are found in two PBGC regulations: the regulation on Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans (29 CFR Part 4044) and the regulation on Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans (29 CFR Part 4022). Assumptions under the asset allocation regulation are updated quarterly; assumptions under the benefit payments regulation are updated monthly. This final rule updates the assumptions under the asset allocation regulation for the second quarter (April through June) of 2009 and updates the Start Printed Page 11036assumptions under the benefit payments regulation for April 2009.

The interest assumptions prescribed under the asset allocation regulation (found in Appendix B to Part 4044) are used for the valuation of benefits for allocation purposes under ERISA section 4044. Two sets of interest assumptions are prescribed under the benefit payments regulation: (1) A set for PBGC to use to determine whether a benefit is payable as a lump sum and to determine lump-sum amounts to be paid by PBGC (found in Appendix B to Part 4022), and (2) a set for private-sector pension practitioners to refer to if they wish to use lump-sum interest rates determined using PBGC's historical methodology (found in Appendix C to Part 4022).

This amendment (1) Adds to Appendix B to Part 4044 the interest assumptions for valuing benefits for allocation purposes in plans with valuation dates during the second quarter (April through June) of 2009, (2) adds to Appendix B to Part 4022 the interest assumptions for PBGC to use for its own lump-sum payments in plans with valuation dates during April 2009, and (3) adds to Appendix C to Part 4022 the interest assumptions for private-sector pension practitioners to refer to if they wish to use lump-sum interest rates determined using PBGC's historical methodology for valuation dates during April 2009.

The interest assumptions that PBGC will use for valuing benefits for allocation purposes (set forth in Appendix B to part 4044) will be 5.50 percent for the first 20 years following the valuation date and 5.02 percent thereafter. These interest assumptions represent a decrease (from those in effect for the first quarter of 2009) of 0.52 percent for the first 20 years following the valuation date and 0.46 percent for all years thereafter.

The interest assumptions that PBGC will use for its own lump-sum payments (set forth in Appendix B to part 4022) will be 3.25 percent for the period during which a benefit is in pay status and 4.00 percent during any years preceding the benefit's placement in pay status. These interest assumptions represent a decrease (from those in effect for March 2009) of 0.25 percent in the immediate annuity rate and are otherwise unchanged. For private-sector payments, the interest assumptions (set forth in Appendix C to part 4022) will be the same as those used by PBGC for determining and paying lump sums (set forth in Appendix B to part 4022).

PBGC has determined that notice and public comment on this amendment are impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This finding is based on the need to determine and issue new interest assumptions promptly so that the assumptions can reflect current market conditions as accurately as possible.

Because of the need to provide immediate guidance for the valuation and payment of benefits in plans with valuation dates during April 2009, PBGC finds that good cause exists for making the assumptions set forth in this amendment effective less than 30 days after publication.

PBGC has determined that this action is not a “significant regulatory action” under the criteria set forth in Executive Order 12866.

Because no general notice of proposed rulemaking is required for this amendment, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 does not apply. See 5 U.S.C. 601(2).

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List of Subjects

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In consideration of the foregoing,

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PART 4022—BENEFITS PAYABLE IN TERMINATED SINGLE-EMPLOYER PLANS

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1. The authority citation for part 4022 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 29 U.S.C. 1302, 1322, 1322b, 1341(c)(3)(D), and 1344.

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2. In appendix B to part 4022, Rate Set 186, as set forth below, is added to the table.

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Appendix B to Part 4022—Lump Sum Interest Rates for PBGC Payments

Rate setFor plans with a valuation dateImmediate annuity rate (percent)Deferred annuities (percent)
On or afterBeforei1i2i3n1n2
*         *         *         *         *         *         *
1864-1-095-1-093.254.004.004.0078
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3. In appendix C to part 4022, Rate Set 186, as set forth below, is added to the table.

End Amendment Part

Appendix C to Part 4022—Lump Sum Interest Rates for Private-Sector Payments

* * * * *
Rate setFor plans with a valuation dateImmediate annuity rate (percent)Deferred annuities (percent)
On or afterBeforei1i2i3n1n2
*         *         *         *         *         *         *
1864-1-095-1-093.254.004.004.0078
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PART 4044—ALLOCATION OF ASSETS IN SINGLE-EMPLOYER PLANS

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

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

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5. In appendix B to part 4044, a new entry for April-June 2009, as set forth below, is added to the table.

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Appendix B to Part 4044—Interest Rates Used to Value Benefits

* * * * *
For valuation dates occurring in the months—The values of it are:
itfor t =itfor t =itfor t =
*         *         *         *         *         *         *
April-June 20090.05501-200.0502>20N/AN/A
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Issued in Washington, DC, on this 11th day of March 2009.

Vincent K. Snowbarger,

Acting Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

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[FR Doc. E9-5656 Filed 3-13-09; 8:45 am]

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