Advocates for Labor and Progressive Institutions

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Former Participants of PwC Cash-Balance Pension Plan Successfully Establish that “Normal Retirement Age” Cannot Be Defined as 5 Years of Service

July 23, 2015

On July 23, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected PricewaterhouseCoopers’ definition of “normal retirement age” as the earlier of age 65 or 5 years of service for purposes of its cash-balance pension plan. 

The Court ruled that ERISA’s definition of “normal retirement age” requires some relationship between the age stated in the plan and the employer’s expectation of actual retirement patterns.  In this case PwC had chosen 5 years of service solely to avoid making so-called “whipsaw” payments to ensure that lump-sum payments to terminating participants would have the same actuarial value as the benefits they would have received at a more traditional “normal retirement age.”  Bredhoff & Kaiser was retained after the case was briefed to represent the Participants in oral argument before the Second Circuit.