United States

Actuarial valuation: New mortality tables for public-sector plans

FINANCIAL REPORTING INSIGHTS  | 

Professional associations of actuaries and actuarial companies occasionally develop and publish updated mortality tables to reflect changes in mortality conditions based on recent historical trends and other information. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) has released new mortality tables, Pub-2010, the first mortality tables designed specifically for use by public-sector plans.

Most public-plan sponsors will see their pension and OPEB liabilities increase with the adoption of the Pub-2010 tables, but the magnitude of the increase will depend both on the specific table adopted and the mortality assumption currently in place.

Pub-2010 is not a single mortality table but rather a family of 94 tables. The SOA analyzed multiple variables that might reasonably be expected to have a significant effect on mortality rates, and the published tables reflect multiple combinations of:

  • Gender (male/female)
  • Job category (teachers/public safety/general (all others))
  • Employment status (active/retired/contingent survivors)
  • Health status (healthy/disabled)
  • Amount above or below median (income for active employees/benefit amount for retirees)

In addition, Pub-2010 includes separate tables that are weighted by headcount and by amount of income/benefit.
Currently, the mortality assumptions used by public-sector clients vary broadly, with some clients using assumptions based on their own credible experience, others using the most recently published private-sector tables (RP-2014) and still others using older tables such as RP-2000. Since all of the publicly available tables were constructed exclusively with mortality data from private-sector plans, public-sector plans generally have exercised a degree of latitude in selecting their mortality assumption, and the range of assumptions considered to be reasonable has been broader than the range for private-sector plans.

The following tables show the expected increase in annuity values (and therefore liabilities) at various ages and relative to the current use of various mortality assumptions (note that “RP-2006 WC” shown below refers to the White Collar version of that table):

TEACHERS

For example, the liability for a female teacher, age 55, with the current valuation assumption for mortality being RP-2006 (RP-2014 adjusted to 2006) with mortality improvement based on scale MP-2017 is expected to increase by 7.3%.

PUBLIC SAFETY

GENERAL EMPLOYEES

 

As can be seen in the tables, increases for teachers are expected to be more significant than for other job categories, but some level of increase is expected for all job categories. It is also important to note that the tables above show expected increases for only a few of the mortality assumptions currently in use. Public-sector plans using older mortality tables, or an older (or no) assumption for mortality improvement could see their liability increase more than is shown in these tables.

Because the Pub-2010 mortality tables have been published and are publicly available, the actuaries at Risk & Regulatory Consulting who review benefit plans for RSM will expect that public-sector plans will either adopt these tables, or the actuary for the plan will document that these tables were considered and provide the reason they were not adopted. Large public-sector plans relying on tables constructed or adapted from their own credible experience are expected to continue to use their own tables.

If you have questions about the Pub-2010 tables, or about how they might be expected to affect the liability for a specific public-sector plan, please contact one of the actuaries at Risk & Regulatory Consulting (Joe Belger (joe.belger@riskreg.com, (312) 961-1122); Steve LaPlant (steve.laplant@riskreg.com, (214) 755-4928);Todd Muchnicki (todd.muchnicki@riskreg.com, (631) 626-1954); or John Zomchick (john.zomchick@riskreg.com, (917) 548-9938).