3 Million DB Participants in Frozen Plans

By Staff Report

Jul. 23, 2008

More than 3 million people are enrolled in frozen single-employer defined-benefit plans, according to a new GAO report.

The most common reasons executives gave for freezing their plans included the impact of annual contributions on their firm’s cash flows and the unpredictability of plan funding, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Among pension plans surveyed, 23 percent involved a hard freeze, in which all future benefit accruals cease. Twenty-two percent involved a partial freeze.

Also, 83 percent of the companies with frozen plans offered alternative retirement savings arrangements.

“As businesses struggle in this economy to pony up more money than they’ve ever had to contribute before because of the [Pension Protection Act’s] stiffer funding requirements, I fear that the spike in pension freezes will rise even more,” Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-North Dakota, who was among legislators who requested the GAO report, said in a news release. “Some argue that higher funding would be good for workers, but there is a hitch — private-sector pensions are voluntary.”

The GAO received responses from 48 DB plan officials of the 471 executives contacted.

This story was filed by Jennifer Byrd of Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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