(a) Adjustments in accrued benefits
(1) In general
Notwithstanding section 411, a multiemployer plan in reorganization may be amended, in accordance with this section, to reduce or eliminate accrued benefits attributable to employer contributions which, under section 4022A(b) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, are not eligible for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s guarantee. The preceding sentence shall only apply to accrued benefits under plan amendments (or plans) adopted after March 26, 1980, or under collective bargaining agreement entered into after March 26, 1980.
(2) Adjustment of vested benefits charge
In determining the minimum contribution requirement with respect to a plan for a plan year under section 418B(b), the vested benefits charge may be adjusted to reflect a plan amendment reducing benefits under this section or section 412(c)(8),1 but only if the amendment is adopted and effective no later than 2½ months after the end of the plan year, or within such extended period as the Secretary may prescribe by regulations under section 412(c)(10).1
(b) Limitation on reduction
(1) In general
Accrued benefits may not be reduced under this section unless—
(A) notice has been given, at least 6 months before the first day of the plan year in which the amendment reducing benefits is adopted, to—
(i) plan participants and beneficiaries,
(ii) each employer who has an obligation to contribute (within the meaning of section 4212(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) under the plan, and
(iii) each employee organization which, for purposes of collective bargaining, represents plan participants employed by such an employer,
that the plan is in reorganization and that, if contributions under the plan are not increased, accrued benefits under the plan will be reduced or an excise tax will be imposed on employers;
(B) in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary—
(i) any category of accrued benefits is not reduced with respect to inactive participants to a greater extent proportionally that such category of accrued benefits is reduced with respect to active participants,
(ii) benefits attributable to employer contributions other than accrued benefits and the rate of future benefit accruals are reduced at least to an extent equal to the reduction in accrued benefits of inactive participants, and
(iii) in any case in which the accrued benefit of a participant or beneficiary is reduced by changing the benefit form or the requirements which the participant or beneficiary must satisfy to be entitled to the benefit, such reduction is not applicable to—
(I) any participant or beneficiary in pay status on the effective date of the amendment, or the beneficiary of such a participant, or
(II) any participant who has attained normal retirement age, or who is within 5 years of attaining normal retirement age, on the effective date of the amendment, or the beneficiary of any such participant; and
(C) the rate of employer contributions for the plan year in which the amendment becomes effective and for all succeeding plan years in which the plan is in reorganization equals or exceeds the greater of—
(i) the rate of employer contributions, calculated without regard to the amendment, for the plan year in which the amendment becomes effective, or
(ii) the rate of employer contributions for the plan year preceding the plan year in which the amendment becomes effective.
(2) Information required to be included in notice
The plan sponsors shall include in any notice required to be sent to plan participants and beneficiaries under paragraph (1) information as to the rights and remedies of plan participants and beneficiaries as well as how to contact the Department of Labor for further information and assistance where appropriate.
(c) No recoupment
A plan may not recoup a benefit payment which is in excess of the amount payable under the plan because of an amendment retroactively reducing accrued benefits under this section.
(d) Benefit increases under multiemployer plan in reorganization
(1) Restoration of previously reduced benefits
(A) In general
A plan which has been amended to reduce accrued benefits under this section may be amended to increase or restore accrued benefits, or the rate of future benefit accruals, only if the plan is amended to restore levels of previously reduced accrued benefits of inactive participants and of participants who are within 5 years of attaining normal retirement age to at least the same extent as any such increase in accrued benefits or in the rate of future benefit accruals.
(B) Benefit increases and benefit restorations
For purposes of this subsection, in the case of a plan which has been amended under this section to reduce accrued benefits—
(i) an increase in a benefit, or in the rate of future benefit accruals, shall be considered a benefit increase to the extent that the benefit, or the accrual rate, is thereby increased above the highest benefit level, or accrual rate, which was in effect under the terms of the plan before the effective date of the amendment reducing accrued benefits, and
(ii) an increase in a benefit, or in the rate of future benefit accruals, shall be considered a benefit restoration to the extent that the benefit, or the accrual rate, is not thereby increased above the highest benefit level, or accrual rate, which was in effect under the terms of the plan immediately before the effective date of the amendment reducing accrued benefits.
(2) Uniformity in benefit restoration
If a plan is amended to partially restore previously reduced accrued benefit levels, or the rate of future benefit accruals, the benefits of inactive participants shall be restored in at least the same proportions as other accrued benefits which are restored.
(3) No benefit increases in year of benefit reduction
No benefit increase under a plan may take effect in a plan year in which an amendment reducing accrued benefits under the plan, in accordance with this section, is adopted or first becomes effective.
(4) Retroactive payments
A plan is not required to make retroactive benefit payments with respect to that portion of an accrued benefit which was reduced and subsequently restored under this section.
(e) Inactive participant
For purposes of this section, the term “inactive participant” means a person not in covered service under the plan who is in pay status under the plan or who has a nonforfeitable benefit under the plan.
The Secretary may prescribe rules under which, notwithstanding any other provision of this section, accrued benefit reductions or benefit increases for different participant groups may be varied equitably to reflect variations in contribution rates and other relevant factors reflecting differences in negotiated levels of financial support for plan benefit obligations.
(Added Pub. L. 96–364, title II, §202(a), Sept. 26, 1980, 94 Stat. 1280.)
References in Text
Section 4022A(b) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, referred to in subsec. (a)(1), is classified to section 1322a(b) of Title 29, Labor.
Section 412, referred to in subsec. (a)(2), was amended generally by Pub. L. 109–280, title I, §111(a), Aug. 17, 2006, 120 Stat. 820, and as so amended, no longer contains a subsec. (c)(8) or (10).
Section 4212(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, referred to in subsec. (b)(1)(A)(ii), is classified to section 1392(a) of Title 29.