Longevity plans could one day address some of the financial uncertainty associated with longer life spans. The concept is designed to offer retirees a supplemental defined benefit (DB) pension (i.e., a longevity plan) alongside their defined contribution (DC) plan.
This article in Retirement Income Journal (subscription required) highlights the Milliman paper “Longevity Plan,” explaining how such a plan may reduce longevity tail risk while providing retirees sustainable income past 80 years old. Here is an excerpt from the paper outlining the plan’s features:
In order for the DB plan to be viable in its role as a supplementary retirement vehicle, its structure will have to be different from that of the traditional DB plan with which many are already familiar. The DB plan that is being proposed here is essentially a longevity plan. Key features of the proposed longevity plan include:
• Unit-accrual pattern such as in a career-average plan or a plan based on flat dollars per years of service
• Simplistic retirement options: No ancillary death, disability, or early retirement benefits would be offered (other than perhaps a lump-sum death benefit between termination and the pension actually starting)
• Life annuity options only: A single-life option for single participants and 75% joint and survivor option for married participants
• Participants would not begin plan participation before age 45 (although this could be extended to age 50)
• Participants would not commence benefits earlier than age 75 (and this could be extended to age 80 or 85)
Presently, ERISA prohibits employers from postponing pension payouts later than age 65 generally. Bill Most and paper co-author Zorast Wadia were quoted by Retirement Income Journal discussing the rule.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
This “unit-accrual design” is still just a concept, not a product. But the authors of the paper think the only thing that prevents it from widespread adoption is an outdated ERISA regulation against delaying pension payouts past age 65.
“Everyone’s talking about this and lots of new products has been proposed,” said Bill Most, a Milliman principal who worked on the paper with principals Zorast Wadia and Daniel Theodore and consulting actuary Danny Quant.
“But we don’t need new products, we need changes from government. And the results will hopefully give us something that employers might embrace. We’re not kidding ourselves. We don’t deny that there’s a lot of bad faith toward defined benefit plans. But from a cost perspective, this makes sense.”
…“They’ve relaxed certain rules related to required minimum distributions starting at age 70½, but they have not made changes in the terms of defined benefit plans,” said Zorast Wadia. “If you’re no longer working, you must begin payments from a defined benefit plan no later than age 65. If you’re still working past age 65, they won’t force you to take benefits. But ERISA won’t let the company purposely delay payments beyond 65 if you’re retired.”
For more perspective on longevity plans, click here.