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Augsburg Fortress terminates defined benefit retirement plan

Augsburg Fortress, the ELCA publishing ministry, announced in a Dec. 31 letter to participants that it will terminate its defined benefit retirement plan effective March 5. The action, approved Dec. 18 by the company's board of trustees, affects 500 plan participants.

Not affected by the decision is the company's defined contribution plan in which Augsburg Fortress' current employees can participate. That 403b plan is "common for nonprofit organizations," according to information from the publisher. About 150 current employees are enrolled in this plan.

Most participants in the defined benefit plan will receive a lump sum payment, said Beth A. Lewis, Augsburg Fortress CEO and president. The trustees amended the plan to provide for a "more equitable allocation of plan assets among plan participants," she wrote in the letter.

Without the amendment, more than half of plan participants would have received nothing at all, Lewis wrote.

"If we had done nothing, the plan would have run out of money in approximately five years and left about 60 percent of those in the plan with no retirement benefits," Lewis said in an interview. "We didn't think that was equitable or fair."


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