At present, the severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic are unknown, and the same is true of the impact on the economies of the United States and other countries. However, the effect on pension plans will certainly be negative.
Congress did respond quickly by passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides a record-shattering $2 trillion in stimulus, including some immediate relief for plan sponsors. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, there are some helpful guidelines for corporate pension plan sponsors based on past experience as well as the market data already in the books through the first quarter of 2020.
In this article, Milliman’s Zorast Wadia addresses the likely impact on pension expense and funded status. Additionally, he discusses the impact of the CARES Act on required cash contributions in calendar year 2020. Zorast also points out some red flags to look for over the next few years and details strategic steps that plan sponsors can begin taking now to help mitigate some of the risks in these unprecedented circumstances.