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Overfunded Pension Plan


An overfunded pension plan is a type of retirement plan in which the deduced value of plan assets surpasses the present value of its liabilities. In simple terms, it has more money than it is currently obligated to pay out to its beneficiaries. Typically, this surplus can occur when the investments linked to the pension plan outperform expectations.


The phonetic pronunciation of Overfunded Pension Plan is: “Oh-ver-fʌn-dɪd Pen-shən Plan”.

Key Takeaways

1. Higher Benefits to Retirees: Overfunded Pension Plans are beneficial to the employees as they guarantee higher payouts during retirement. Since it indicates that the pension plan has more assets than liabilities, it implies that the company is well-prepared to meet its pension obligations and can even afford to provide better retirement benefits.

2. Financial Stability: Overfunding of the pension plan reflects the good financial health of a company. It signifies that the company has managed its resources effectively to ensure the well-being of its retired employees. In a nutshell, it can act as a financial cushion in difficult times, which can help the company meet its pension obligations without any issues.

3. Potential Tax Implications: While overfunding might appear to be beneficial, it could have some tax implications. Any surplus in a pension plan can be taxable, except when it’s reinvested back into the plan. Hence, companies need to manage their pension plans carefully to ensure they aren’t doing anything that might invoke potential tax liabilities.


An Overfunded Pension Plan is a crucial business/finance term as it refers to a pension plan that has more assets than liabilities, meaning there are more than enough funds to cover all the retirement benefits that the company owes to its employees. This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it represents financial stability within the company as it indicates that the company has managed its finances well. Secondly, it provides employees with a sense of security as they can be confident that their retirement benefits are secured. Lastly, from the company’s point of view, an overfunded pension plan can offer tax advantages, as the surplus could be deductible against taxable income. Thus, understanding an overfunded pension plan is essential for grasping the financial health of a company and its implications for both the company and its employees.


An overfunded pension plan has significant implications for the financial prosperity and security of a firm and its employees. The fundamental purpose of this kind of scheme is to ensure that the company has more than enough funds to meet its current and future pension obligations. Contributing more than the minimum required amount allows businesses to prepare for unforeseen circumstances or market fluctuations that could potentially increase their retirement liabilities. It also indicates sound financial health for the company, which can be advantageous in terms of attracting and retaining employees since it implies the company’s ability to fulfill its retirement commitments to them.An overfunded pension plan also offers a strategic tool for companies with surplus assets. The extra funds within an overfunded pension plan can be used towards other business operations or reinvested to generate more returns. Some companies may opt to use the surplus to reduce their future minimum required contributions, effectively freeing up capital for other operational expenses. However, the use of these excess funds is usually regulated by government policies to ensure they are managed responsibly and that the pension promises made to employees are kept.


1. General Motors: For many years, General Motors had one of the largest overfunded pension plans in the United States. The automaker’s pension fund was overfunded by $13.4 billion at the end of 2018, due to a combination of strong market returns and large contributions made by the company. In essence, GM’s fund had more than enough money to meet all its projected obligations to retired employees.2. Pfizer: As of 2020, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had an overfunded pension plan worth $1.3 billion. A year prior, it was underfunded by $100 million, but a series of smart investment strategies and additional contributions turned it into an overfunded plan. This meant that Pfizer had more assets in its pension fund than needed to meet future obligations.3. Verizon Communications: In 2017, Verizon reported a pension plan that was overfunded to the tune of $3.6 billion. This was primarily due to the company making large contributions to its pension fund and implementing a sound investment strategy. As a result, Verizon’s pension plan had more assets than needed to pay the retirement benefits it had promised to its employees.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Overfunded Pension Plan?

An Overfunded Pension Plan is a company retirement plan that has more assets than liabilities. In simpler terms, it means the plan has more funds than it currently needs to cover future payments to its beneficiaries.

How does a Pension Plan become Overfunded?

Besides the company’s regular contributions to the pension plan, robust investment returns can lead to the pension plan becoming overfunded. This primarily occurs when the plan’s investments perform better than expected.

What does it mean for employees if their company has an Overfunded Pension Plan?

An Overfunded Pension Plan typically has positive implications for employees as it indicates that their company’s retirement plan is fully funded and has extra to handle any unexpected liabilities.

What are the benefits for companies with an Overfunded Pension Plan?

From a company perspective, an Overfunded Pension Plan can help with balance sheet flexibility, providing a cushion should investment returns decline in the future. They may also use the surpluses to reduce pension expense, improve the company’s financial position, or decrease future contributions.

How common are Overfunded Pension Plans?

Overfunded Pension Plans are relatively uncommon, as most employers experience more pension liabilities than assets. However, they can occur during periods of sustained economic growth and strong market performance.

Can an Overfunded Pension Plan become underfunded?

Yes. While an Overfunded Pension Plan provides a financial cushion, if there is a significant market downturn or if the company’s liabilities increase unexpectedly, an overfunded plan can become underfunded.

What options does a company have with an Overfunded Pension Plan?

Companies have several options when their pension plan is overfunded. They can leave the surplus in the plan for future security, use the surplus to reduce future contributions, use it for plan expenses, or even revert some amount to the company following stringent IRS rules and regulations.

What happens to the overfunded amount when a company terminates the pension plan?

If a company decides to terminate its overfunded pension plan, it is usually required to purchase annuities to cover all vested benefits. If funds remain after purchasing annuities and paying all related costs, the company may revert the funds, but it must pay a 50% excise tax plus regular income tax on the reverted amount.

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