HELP FOR SURVIVORS
The LRO receives frequent requests for dealing with the passing of a retiree or surviving spouse. Consequently, we have created a document that focuses on communicating with Nokia benefits and pensions, along with links to websites with checklists for other family issues. The document is available here.
The document is printable so that you can keep it in your files for future reference.
LRO Board Meeting - Dallas, TX, October 24, 2018
The LRO Board of Directors met in Dallas, TX on October 24, 2018 to continue the evaluation of the LRO role and the execution of the Plan Forward as laid out in our final newsletter published in November of 2017.
Attending were: Joe Dombrowski, President, Frank Minter, Vice President, Dick McCauley, Treasurer, Joe Sciulli, Webmaster, Legislative Affairs Director, Bob Martina, and board members at large, Bob Janish, Andy Guarriello, Dan Lovatt, and Gary Reichow.
Unable to attend: Benefits Director, Ron Hoth, Secretary, Pam Rasmussen
In that final November 2017 newsletter, we laid out A Plan Forward for the LRO. That plan was based upon the significant decline that we were seeing in member questions and activity following the successful pension buyout offering in late 2016 and the transition to Nokia. Among the planned actions were: website simplification, cancellation of regional meetings, reductions to the size of the LRO board, cancellation of the newsletter, and suspension of annual dues. The plan was intended to reduce board workload and expense as we continued to evaluate the future relevance of the LRO. The board is now well along in executing that plan.
As of this board meeting, the decline in activity continues with no major pension or benefit issues facing our retirees. The remaining pension trust is well funded at over 110%, and Nokia continues to provide healthcare for retirees. Congress continues to wrestle with the future of the Affordable Care Act and Social Security and Medicare funding; but those issues, while important to retirees, we believe are best addressed through our lobbying partner, the NRLN. With the suspension and now cancellation of LRO dues, we urge our membership to consider supporting the NRLN directly. Visit the NRLN at www.nrln.com to gain more insight into the policy proposals of that organization.
The only other significant benefit issue that continues to fester is the funding of the Group Life Insurance Trust. That trust, which was fully funded by AT&T at divestiture, no longer has sufficient assets to cover all eligible retirees. It is estimated that the fund currently has assets to last for another four years or so. The LRO has pursued this funding issue for several years and has written the CEO of Nokia regarding the importance of this issue to our retirees. From our interaction with Nokia, we are aware that Nokia is at least examining options to find a way to deal with this funding shortfall. Time will tell if we have been successful in our efforts; but we believe we have done all we can on this issue.
Given all of the above and considering the advanced age of board members and our retiree population in general, the board is now actively planning for the dissolution of the LRO sometime in the 2020 timeframe. Dissolution of an IRS classified 501C5 organization is a fairly complex process requiring extensive documentation not only for the IRS, but also for the state of our incorporation (NY) plus our financial headquarters (NJ). To assist us, we have retained an attorney to guide us through this process. At some point in the process, we will be hosting a final membership meeting to vote on dissolution details. We will continue to keep our membership informed as we go through this process and will regularly update our website, www.lucentretirees.com which will remain active until final dissolution.
Finally, with relative stability in our pension funding and healthcare benefits, we believe we have largely accomplished the goals set forth in our incorporation to represent the interests of our retirees. We say to our members, thank you for your support over the years. We have done our best to be your advocate and to keep you informed of key issues. We believe our presence has made a difference.
PENSION STATUS REPORT
Recently you should have received from Nokia the Annual Funding Notice (AFN) reporting the status of your pension that they are required to send you each year on April 30. In this status report we will provide some comments on the data in the AFN and also on the information Nokia reported to the SEC earlier this year. The current data in the two documents will probably be the last new current pension status data for this year.
The AFN data provides data at both the beginning of the year (2017) and the end of that year. The beginning of year data covers a three- year period and the following is for the year 2017:
Funding Target Attainment Percentage
Assets $17.628 billion Liabilities $12.863 billion Funding Level 137%
Two significant causes are described for the reported funding level. (Also covered in the second paragraph under plan liabilities on page 2 of the AFN). Under Federal Law which was effective in 2011, companies with defined benefit pension plans were allowed to calculate pension liabilities using a 25 year average of interest rates rather than a 2 year average. Currently the 25 year average is greater than the 2 year average, therefore the higher rate reduces the pension liabilities and increases the funding level. Nokia reports that using this average rate adds about 20.5 percentage points to the funding level. The second item is that Nokia has not yet adopted the new actuarial tables for this calculation which also overstates the funding level by about 10%.
The second funding status shown in the AFN is at 12/31/17 as follows:
Assets $18.422 billion Liabilities $15.636 billion Funding Level 117.8%
This calculation does not use the 25 year interest rate average but uses the PBGC interest rates. It also does not reflect the use of new actuarial tables which have about a 10% effect on funding level. This funding level is about two percentage points lower than 2016.
Earlier this year, Nokia also filed a Form 20F with the SEC that reported the funding level of our pension plans (in euros) for year end 2016 and 2017.
|Pension Assets||16.9 billion euros||15.3 billion euros|
|Pension Liabilities||15.9 billion euros||13.8 billion euros|
|Funding level||105.7 %||111.0 %|
Please note the reduction in both assets and liabilities for 2017. Since pension recording for our pension plans is done in dollars, it must be converted into euros for financial reporting by Nokia. The exchange rate from dollars to euros increased from about 1.05 to about 1.20 during this period thereby significantly reducing both reported assets and liabilities. You should also note that Nokia has adopted the new actuarial tables for financial reporting.
When Nokia reports total assets and liabilities for all US pension plans and all US post retirement benefits total pension assets (management and represented plans) exceed total liabilities by 2.4 billion euros. Post retirement benefit plans covering both healthcare and group life insurance benefits liabilities exceed assets by 2.0 billion euros. As reported on the 20F (when all plans are added together) some of the positive increase resulted from the improvement in the euro/dollar exchange rate.
The AFN also reports total participants in the pension plan, both active, retired, and entitled to future benefits. Total participants declined from 117,260 on 1/1/16 to 115,150 on 1/1/17 although active employees increased by 2006 during the year 2016. That is of interest to retirees as Nokia increased pension expense by 63 million euros in 2016 and 75 million euros in 2017 in connection with reinstatement of a cash balance pension plan for active employees. Up to now no assets have been contributed to the plan for this expense.
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