Responsibilities of the Pension Plan Administrator

Who is the Pension Plan Administrator?

Each pension plan must have a pension plan administrator (administrator) — the person(s) or entity that is/are ultimately responsible for the oversight, management and administration of the pension plan, and the administration and investment of the pension fund.

 

The administrator is usually the employer that established the pension plan.  However, the administrator may also be: a board of trustees (e.g., for multi-employer pension plans where at least half of the trustees are member representatives); a pension committee (composed of member representatives); an insurance company (if it guarantees all benefits of the pension plan); or a group that is authorized by an Act of the Legislature.

Responsibilities of the Administrator

The administrator has a duty of care and owes fiduciary duties to plan beneficiaries.  The administrator must ensure that the pension plan and pension fund are administered in accordance with the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) and regulations, and the terms of the pension plan.  The administrator is ultimately accountable to all participants of the pension plan (e.g., plan beneficiaries, plan sponsors and regulatory authorities).

The administrator’s responsibilities to plan beneficiaries include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Ensuring that certain plan information is available to those who are entitled to receive it, and that the information is accurate and complete, and provided within the timeframe specified in the PBA and regulations.
  • Enrolling employees in the pension plan.
  • Providing plan beneficiaries information about their rights and responsibilities in respect to the pension plan.
  • Providing plan beneficiaries information and documents that are required to be disclosed under the PBA and regulations.
  • Determining plan beneficiaries’ entitlements under the pension plan.
  • Making payments to plan beneficiaries when they are due.
  • Making payments to former spouses of plan beneficiaries with respect to their share of the plan beneficiaries’ pension benefits (in accordance with the PBA and regulations, and court documents that are filed with the administrator).
  • Responding to inquiries or complaints from plan beneficiaries.

Delegation of the Administrator’s Responsibilities

The administrator may delegate some or all of its responsibilities for administering the pension plan and administering and investing the pension fund to various service providers. The service providers may be insurance or trust companies, employees of the administrator, or pension specialists who are hired to assume certain aspects of plan management and administration (e.g., actuaries, accountants, pension consultants, investment managers, fund custodians, brokers, etc.).  These service providers – regardless if they are employees of the administrator or third parties – are subject to the same duty of care as the administrator.

Although the administrator may delegate operational functions, accountability for direction-setting and supervision of its service providers’ work cannot be delegated.  Even if tasks are delegated, the administrator is still ultimately responsible for ensuring that the pension plan and pension fund are being administered, and that the assets of the pension fund are being invested in compliance with the PBA, regulations and pension plan.

How to Contact the Administrator

For information on how to contact the administrator regarding a pension inquiry or complaint, see How to Contact the Pension Plan Administrator

 
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