This is the ninth edition of the Private Pension Plan Bulletin. The tabulations presented in this report contain data based on 1996 Form 5500 filings. Reports for 1996 plan years were filed by plans for fiscal years ending anywhere from December 31, 1996 to December 30, 1997. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) processed 1996 filings from August 1997 through July 1999.

Form 5500 reports are filed annually with the IRS. Plans covering 100 or more participants must file a Form 5500 every year containing extensive financial, participant, and actuarial data. Plans covering fewer than 100 participants are required to file a less detailed report (known as a Form 5500 C/R).

The universe for this Bulletin consists of all private pension plans for which a Form 5500 or Form 5500 C/R has been filed with the IRS in accordance with Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Such plans may be defined benefit or defined contribution plans. They generally cover private wage and salary employees and are sponsored either by employers or jointly by employers and unions.

The IRS processes the reports and provides computerized edited files to the Department of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration. To produce this report, data on all plans covering 100 or more participants are combined with a 5 percent sample of small plan filers. This combined file is subjected to additional editing and weighted to represent the universe of private pension plans covering two or more participants.

Key findings from the 1996 filings are summarized in the Highlights on pages 2 and 3. The tabulations are organized into five sections. Section A contains summary data on plans, participants, assets, income and expenses. Section B contains more detailed data on plans and participants, showing distributions by different size measures. Section C contains balance sheets and income statements for the major types of pension plans. Section D contains detailed data on defined contribution plans. Section E contains historical data from 1977 to 1996. The organization of this Bulletin is similar to the previous edition with the exception of additional tables in Section E on aggregate rates of return of 401(k) type plans.

This publication was prepared by Richard Hinz, Helen Lawrence, David McCarthy, Deloris Penic-Stevens, Daniel Beller, Steve Donahue, and Phyllis Fernandez of the Office of Policy and Research. Although this Bulletin is not copyrighted, proper acknowledgment would be appreciated. The recommended citation is:

  1. United States Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration. Abstract of 1996 Form 5500 Annual Reports. Private Pension Plan Bulletin No. 9, Winter 1999-2000. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1999.

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