Detroit Carpenters’ Pension Plan Pension Recovery Program

Pension Recovery Program

Our overriding goal is to put the Pension Plan on stable financial footing for long-term sustainability, so all participants get some measure of financial security.

As you know, our Plan has been in the Red Zone since 2006 and was certified to be in Critical and Declining status in 2018. This means that the Plan is expected to run out of money in about 15 years—unless we take action now.

Despite our best efforts to keep the Plan on sound financial footing, a combination of forces largely beyond our control has battered the Plan’s finances and now threatens the Plan’s survival.

  • Investment losses due to the 2000 and 2008 stock market crashes
  • Bad government regulations
  • Job losses and declining hours
  • An unsustainable ratio of 2.4 retirees and deferred vested participants to every one active participant

There are no easy answers to the problems the Plan faces, but the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA), makes it possible for us to develop and implement a Pension Recovery Program.

 

MPRA Overview

 

MPRA gives Trustees of plans like ours the ability to avoid insolvency and save our pension by reducing benefits (including benefits of retirees already collecting their pensions), within certain limits. MPRA relief is available only to plans that have problems that can be fixed long-term through one-time benefit cuts. By activating a Pension Recovery Program, we expect to:

  • Fix the Plan’s finances. Our goal is to put the Plan back in a position where our future financial stability is as close to guaranteed as we can make it.
  • Continue to pay benefits for the foreseeable future. We expect that the benefit suspensions we make now will enable the Plan to stabilize its finances and keep benefits flowing to retirees and other eligible payees.
  • Keep the benefit suspensions as fair and modest as possible. However, because of the way the MPRA law works, the percentage by which benefits will be reduced will differ based on a number of factors, including the participant’s age when the benefit suspensions go into effect.

 

The Pension Recovery Program

Our Pension Recovery Program will:

  • Put the Plan back in a position where our future financial stability is as close to guaranteed as we can make it.
  • Allow the Plan to continue to pay benefits for the foreseeable future.

We submitted an application for MPRA relief to the Treasury Department on September 23, 2019. As part of that, we are also sending individualized notices to all participants explaining in detail our proposal to save your pension and the Pension Plan. The notices include personalized benefit amounts so you can see what the changes mean for you—and what will happen to your pension if we do not take action.

We worked hard to keep the cuts equitable and fair. However, because of the way MPRA works, the percentage by which benefits will be reduced will differ based on a number of factors, including the participant's age at the time that the Pension Recovery Program takes effect.

There are resources and documents available on this website to help you better understand how we got here and how the Pension Recovery Plan will work.

We will post updates and new documents to this site when they are available. Please check the site regularly.

 

 

Conclusion

If our Pension Recovery Program is not approved and the Pension Plan becomes insolvent, we face the possibility that the Pension Plan will run out of money and participants will have to rely on the shaky Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) for an even lesser benefit. The PBGC will cut everyone’s pensions across the board, the cuts will be much larger than the benefit suspensions in our Pension Recovery Program, and the cuts will hit everyone regardless of age or disability status. The PBGC is predicted to become insolvent by 2026 and, if the PBGC itself becomes insolvent, your pension could be reduced to nothing.

The longer we wait, the larger the benefit suspensions will have to be. If we wait too long, no relief plan will be able to save the Plan from running out of money.

This has been perhaps the most difficult decision the Board has ever had to make. Reducing pensions for current retirees and beneficiaries is not something we ever thought we’d have to do. The only reason we’re even contemplating these changes is to prevent the Plan from insolvency, and your pension payments from being cut even more—or disappearing altogether. If the Pension Recovery Program works as we expect it to, the result will be a Pension Plan you can count on for generations to come.