In February 2015, the Society of Actuaries issued new assumptions on mortality to adjust for the fact that Americans are living approximately two years longer than under the previous assumptions set 15 years ago. While many companies have adopted the new assumptions for financial reporting purposes, causing their pension obligations to increase on average between 5%-8% and weakening their pension funding status, they will be able to delay for at least a year the requirement to fund those additional dollars. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which sets the minimum funding requirements, has yet to adopt these new assumptions. The delay is expected to save companies with defined-benefit plans a total estimated $18 billion in 2016. Additionally, the delay from the IRS could allow companies to continue with de-risking strategies, most notably lump-sum buyouts, since buyouts will be cheaper in 2016 than in the future. The IRS is still evaluating the assumptions, and any new regulations on mortality rates won’t take effect until 2017 at the earliest.
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