Milliman analysis: September brings $45 billion improvement in pension funded status Discount rate climbs back above 4.0%, reducing pension liability by $30 billion
SEATTLE, Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Milliman, Inc., a premier global consulting and actuarial firm, today released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index, which consists of 100 of the nation's largest defined benefit pension plans. In September, these pensions experienced a $45 billion increase in funded status based on a $30 billion reduction in the pension benefit obligation (PBO) and a $15 billion asset improvement. The $45 billion increase in funded status means these pensions have reduced their cumulative funding deficit by $80 billion in the last two months, following a four-month slide of $304 billion.
"It may be too late in the year to call it a comeback—the funding deficit for these 100 pensions has grown by more than $100 billion in 2012," said John Ehrhardt, co-author of the Milliman Pension Funding Study. "But two months in a row of funded status improvement is still welcome news. Not surprisingly, the recent deficit reduction was driven in large part by cooperative interest rate movement."
In September, the discount rate used to calculate pension liabilities increased from 3.99% to 4.08%, reducing the PBO to $1.778 trillion at the end of the month. The overall asset value for these 100 pensions increased from $1.309 trillion to $1.324 trillion.
Looking forward, if these 100 pensions were to achieve their expected 7.8% median asset return and if the current discount rate of 4.08% were to be maintained throughout 2012 and 2013, these pensions would improve the pension funded ratio from 74.5% to 75.4% by the end of 2012 and to 79.9% by the end of 2013.
Milliman is among the world's largest providers of actuarial and related products and services. The firm has consulting practices in healthcare, property & casualty insurance, life insurance and financial services, and employee benefits. Founded in 1947, Milliman is an independent firm with offices in major cities around the globe. For further information, visit milliman.com.
About the Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index
For the past 12 years, Milliman has conducted an annual study of the 100 largest defined benefit pension plans sponsored by U.S. public companies. The Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index projects the funded status for pension plans included in our study, reflecting the monthly impact of market returns and interest-rate changes on pension funded status, utilizing the actual reported asset values, liabilities, and asset allocations of the companies' pension plans.
The results of the Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index were based on the actual pension plan accounting information disclosed in the footnotes to the companies' annual reports for the preceding fiscal year and for previous fiscal years. In addition to providing the financial information on the funded status of U.S. qualified pension plans, the footnotes may also include figures for the companies' nonqualified and foreign plans, both of which are often unfunded or subject to funding standards different from those for U.S. qualified pension plans. The results do not represent the funded status of the companies' U.S. qualified pension plans under ERISA.
SOURCE Milliman, Inc.