Vesting Status of Selected Participants in Top-Heavy Pension Plans

T-HRD-88-3: Published: Oct 23, 1987. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the effect of replacing 1982 "top-heavy" pension plan vesting rules with those of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. After comparing the vesting status of 859 active participants in 128 top-heavy small-business pension plans, GAO noted that, if the plans had used the 1986 graded vesting schedule: (1) the proportion of nonvested women would have increased from 16 to 29 percent and of men from 8 to 15 percent; (2) the proportion of fully vested women would have decreased from 38 to 32 percent and of men from 57 to 52 percent; and (3) the average vesting percentage of women would have decreased from 60 to 49 percent and of men from 74 to 66 percent. GAO concluded that the act's minimum vesting schedules would have adversely affected the pension plan participants it studied.

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