Chantel Sheaks Chantel Sheaks
Vice President, Retirement Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


November 18, 2020


Although short in length, Section 3608 of the CARES Act is a powerful tool for employers that sponsor defined benefit pension plans. Congress recognized that in these uncertain times, employers were facing a dilemma: make pension contributions (for obligations that won’t be due in years) or make payroll and other short term costs. To help, Congress included Section 3608 in the CARES Act which allows plan sponsors to delay any required 2020 contributions to their defined benefit plans until January 1, 2021.

Congressional intent was to give employers some breathing room in 2020 as they tried to navigate their way through this year. At first glance, nothing seemed amiss. However, although Congress meant to delay these payments until 2021, because January 1 is a holiday, employers might have been forced to make the payment in 2020, which could have subjected both employers and employees to some drastic unintended consequences.

We brought this to the attention of both Hill staffers and the Agencies. We also reached out to our fellow trades, knowing that together we are stronger.

We thank our fellow trades for their work with us.

We applaud Hill staffers from both sides of the aisle who came together on this issue through proposed legislation and conversations with the Agencies.

We appreciate the IRS for finding a way in Notice 2020-82 to carry out Congressional intent by allowing employers to make 2020 payments on January 4, 2021, and the PBGC for updating its guidance.

We were able to come together to bridge these three days, and going forward, we can come together to do more. The year isn’t over, and much remains on the table. Without single-employer funding relief, many employers that sponsor defined benefit plans will struggle between whether to make contributions to their pension plans or pay their employees. Multiemployer plans that were hurting before the pandemic have been hit particularly hard the past year. Without the employers that contribute to these plans, there are no plans. As the virus surges, the last thing the economy needs is job loss, benefit cuts, and bankruptcies because Congress failed to come together. Together we are stronger, and we can finish this year with common sense pension legislation to ensure that our employers remain strong and their employees are protected.

About the authors

Chantel Sheaks

Chantel Sheaks

Chantel Sheaks develops, promotes, and publicizes the Chamber’s policy on retirement plans, nonqualified deferred compensation, and Social Security.

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