Milliman, Inc.’s latest Pension Funding Index showed that in August the plans tracked experienced a $14 billion decrease in asset value and an $8 billion decrease in pension liabilities. The pension funding deficit increased to $162 billion at the end of August.

“We knew the good news surrounding pension funded status couldn’t last forever, though the increase to the deficit in August was marginal,” said John Ehrhardt, co-author of the Milliman Pension Funding Index, which consists of 100 of the nation’s largest DB plans. “As the third quarter comes to a close, the pensions analyzed in our index could realistically end the year at over 90% funded status. The year’s pension funding narrative is still a long way from complete, but you have to like where we are with four months to go.”

Year-to-date, assets have improved by $49 billion and the projected benefit obligation has been reduced by $180 billion, resulting in a $229 billion improvement in funded status and increasing the funded ratio to 89.4%.

Looking forward, if the Milliman 100 pension plans were to achieve the expected 7.5% median asset return for their pension portfolios, and if the current discount rate of 4.77% were maintained, funded status would improve, with the funded status deficit narrowing to $138 billion (91.0% funded ratio) by the end of 2013 and $55 billion (96.4% funded ratio) by the end of 2014.

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