JULY 8, 2015
When Jim Palermo was serving as a trustee of the village of La Grange, Ill., he noticed something peculiar about the local police officers and firefighters. They were not going to live as long as might be expected, at least according to pension tables.
After Mr. Palermo dug into the numbers, he found that the actuary — the person who advises pension plan trustees about how much money to set aside — was using a mortality table from 1971 that showed La Grange’s roughly 100 police officers and firefighters were expected to die, on average, before reaching 75, compared with 79 under a more recent table.
The four years are significant beyond any interest in macabre statistics. When actuaries calculate the numbers for a pension plan, mortality rates are a powerful hidden factor. If an actuary predicts the workers will live to an old age, it means they will be drawing their pensions for more years. That, in turn, means the employer should set aside more money up front, to keep from running out later. Read Article