Effects of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act on Pension Plans With Fewer Than 100 Participants

HRD-79-56: Published: Apr 16, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 16, 1979.

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The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) established minimum standards and requirements governing the design and operation of private pension plans. Responsibilities for carrying out the Act are assigned to the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. As of mid-1977, 471,341 (93 percent) of the private pension plans had fewer than 100 participants. About 18 percent of the plans had terminated, and 82 percent continued.

In order to meet ERISA's participation and vesting standards, almost all of the defined benefit and defined contribution plans had to be revised, and about 58 percent of the Keogh plans required revision. Employers spent over $500 million in administrative costs resulting from the Act; about 67 percent of these costs were one-time costs for revising the plans to meet the Act's requirements, and about 33 percent were increased annual administrative costs. Some of the annual reporting requirements have been eliminated in order to reduce the administrative costs of the pension plans.

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