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Pension Protection Act Of 2006

Pension Protection Act of 2006

Definition

A federal law affecting major aspects of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) and defined contribution (i.e., 401(k)) plans. The intent of the Act was twofold: (1) to ensure the solvency of defined benefit pension plans and (2) to encourage employee participation in defined contribution/401(k) plans by making it easier for employees to increase their retirement plan balances. Among the key provisions are (1) a requirement that a company must have in its defined benefit pension fund 92 percent of the money needed to meet its pension obligations in 2008, 94 percent in 2009, 96 percent in 2010, and 100 percent by 2011; (2) allowance of higher dollar contribution amounts for 401(k) savings plans, including "catch-up" contributions for older (i.e., 50 and up) workers; and (3) provisions allowing automatic enrollment of workers in 401(k) plans, whereby every new employee is automatically enrolled in the company's plan, unless the employee specifically opts out of enrollment. In December of 2008, however, defined benefit plan funding requirements (item 1, above) were relaxed considerably, given the fact that the stock market had suffered severe losses during the preceding year. This circumstance vastly reduced the assets of nearly every pension fund in the United States, thereby making it nearly impossible for such plans to comply with the more stringent funding requirements originally mandated by the Act.

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