The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) on April 25 issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the annual funding notice requirements for multiemployer pension plans that received special financial assistance (SFA) funds under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021.
The FAQs are contained in Field Assistance Bulletin 2023-01.
About the SFA Program
On March 11, 2021, the ARP was enacted. Among its many effects was adding Section 4262 to ERISA, which created the SFA Program administered by the PBGC.
The SFA Program is intended to provide eligible underfunded multiemployer pension plans with assistance for those plans to pay all benefits due during the period beginning on the date of payment of SFA through the plan year ending in 2051.
Plans that have received assistance must include disclosures regarding the special financial assistance and certain related restrictions, limitations, and conditions in the plan’s annual funding notice required by Section 101(f) of ERISA.
The New Guidance
EBSA explains that, pending further guidance, the DOL will treat compliance as constituting a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the annual funding notice disclosure requirements of Section 101(f) of ERISA and the DOL’s related regulations regarding the issues discussed in the Field Assistance Bulletin.
Field Assistance Bulletin 2023-01 also states that, regarding plans that have already prepared and begun to furnish their annual funding notices for the plan’s 2022 year, the DOL expects the plan administrator to consider the bulletin’s guidance in evaluating whether the annual funding notice disclosures relating to special financial assistance were consistent with a reasonable, good faith interpretation of Section 101(f) and the DOL’s related regulations.
“The annual funding notice helps keep participants and their families informed about the financial status of their pension plan. The Department of Labor expects plan administrators of multiemployer plans receiving special financial assistance to make annual funding notice disclosures relating to the assistance that comply with Section 101(f) and the department’s related regulations. Today’s Field Assistance Bulletin will help plan administrators fulfill those responsibilities with a set of frequently asked questions and answers and model language,” said Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Lisa M. Gomez in a press release.
Field Assistance Bulletin 2023-01 is available here: