United Actuarial Service, Inc. (UAS) has provided full-service actuarial consulting to multiemployer plans since 1951. We specialize in providing services to multiemployer (Taft-Hartley) pension and health care plans, and are one of the few employee benefits consulting and actuarial firms that focuses exclusively on servicing this community. In fact, we established many of the multiemployer benefit plans operating today.
We currently service over 200 client funds across in 28 states. As a testament to our commitment to delivering expert service at a fair price, our average client relationship has been maintained for over 10 years.
We are an original and long-time member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the Society of Professional Benefit Administrators. Over the years, our employees have been active directors and committee members of these organizations. We have also been speakers and authors for them on a wide range of employee benefit topics at educational seminars and programs they conduct around the country. The UAS Research Department is recognized as one of the leading sources for analysis of new laws, regulations and judicial developments from the perspective of multiemployer benefit plans.
We generally attend up to four Board of Trustees meeting per year in an actuarial and advisory capacity, including presenting the annual actuarial valuation report.
Our annual actuarial valuation report includes: 1) a description of the long term financial solvency of the Fund, 2) a determination of the minimum required and maximum deductible contribution levels under the Internal Revenue Code, 3) information required by the Fund’s auditor to comply with FASB ASC 960, 4) a determination of the Fund’s current liability, 5) a determination of the annual aggregate unfunded vested benefits for withdrawal liability purposes, 6) a comparison of the Fund’s actual experience versus the actuarial assumptions used, and 7) a calculation of the Funding Standard Account.
We perform the annual certification to the Secretary of the Treasury and to the Trustees, not later than the 90th day of each plan year, the Fund’s “status” (i.e. Critical, Endangered, “green”, etc.) pursuant to the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (“PPA”) and the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). In the event the Fund is in a funding improvement or rehabilitation period, we would also certify whether or not the Fund is making the scheduled progress in meeting the requirements of its funding improvement or rehabilitation plan.
At each meeting we attend, UAS can utilize our Real-Time Pension Model, which can produce 25-year projections of the Fund’s future PPA zones, funded ratio, ERISA credit balance, and unfunded vested benefit results. UAS can provide on-demand approximate updates to valuation results due to near-term changes in the asset return and total hours, credited or non-credited contribution rate increases and changes in the main benefit formula.
Variable Defined Benefit (“VDB”) Plan Designs
Variable defined benefit (“VDB”) Plans (also called “variable annuity pension plans”, “stabilized variable plans”, and “cap and shore plans,” among other names), are quickly gaining momentum within the multiemployer community. Trustees are attracted to the post-retirement inflation protection and funding stability and predictability afforded by these plan designs. Perhaps most importantly, we believe that variable designs can provide a multiemployer pension plan with its best shot at long-term sustainability and surviving the next “great recession.”
UAS is ideally situated to help you acquire the knowledge you need to determine whether or not a variable plan design is the right choice for your pension plan. We have a great deal of experience making VDB educational presentations, helping trustees understand the many options to them in transitioning to a variable design, and performing VDB implementation studies. We have also assisted a number of plans in the final design and implementation of variable designs.
UAS has developed a proprietary VDB modeling tool that allows Trustees to graphically see the effect of a proposed transition on individual participants in real time. The tool can use historic or flat rates of return, or produce random rates of return based on the statistical characteristics of the fund’s investment policy. Your UAS consultant can even use the tool to produce sophisticated analyses (such as estimating the probability that a participant will experience a post-retirement benefit decline) using “stochastic modeling.”
Other Alternative/Hybrid Plan Designs
Following the devastating impact of the economic downturn of 2008, many boards of trustees are looking into alternative plan designs with the idea of being better prepared to weather the next catastrophic economic event. While variable plan designs seem to be gaining the most traction, there are a wide range of other options available to manage pension plan risks including:
- Transitioning to a defined contribution (i.e., annuity) plan as the primary retirement vehicle
- Variable accrual plan design
- Composite plan (proposed in concept, changes to ERISA law would be required)
- Cash balance plan
- 414(k) plan
UAS has significant experience educating boards on the mechanics and pros and cons of these various designs. We welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can assist you in making these important decisions.
UAS can prepare a detailed employer withdrawal liability report providing reallocated and assessable liability amounts for employers that have withdrawn or were deemed uncollectible, including annual updates to an existing EWL database. UAS can also prepare an employer withdrawal liability estimate worksheet that could be used to allow a contributing employer to estimate their own withdrawal liability allocation based upon their respective work history. Such estimate would not take into account reallocated and assessable liability amounts for employers that have withdrawn or were deemed uncollectible.
Annuity and 401(k) Plans
UAS can assist in the design and general operational compliance support related to defined contribution plans including annuity and 401(k) plans.
Benefit/QDRO/Late Retirement Calculations
The UAS Benefit Calculation Team interprets pension plan documents, performs and/or reviews benefit and QDRO (i.e., divorce) calculations, and assists clients in applying suspension, minimum required distributions, and actuarial adjustment rules.