Press Release: Institute for Pension Fund Integrity Releases Calculator Showing True State of U.S. Public Pension Plans


OCTOBER 16, 2018

Press Release: Institute for Pension Fund Integrity Releases Calculator Showing True State of U.S. Public Pension Plans

Institute for Pension Fund Integrity Seeks to Illuminate Public Pension Unfunded Liability Crisis

Arlington, VA (October 16, 2018) Today, the Institute for Pension Fund Integrity (IPFI) is proud to announce a new tool that reveals the true cost of the unfunded liabilities of the U.S. public pension crisis. After years of unrealistic and overly positive assumptions by plan actuaries and outdated mortality rates, public pensions now face a multi-trillion-dollar underfunding. In order to raise awareness of the seriousness of this issue, IPFI has designed a calculator that gives transparency to unfunded liabilities as you adjust assumed rates of return and the mortality rates of pensioners.

The politicization of public pensions has been consistently growing over the last decades. Between increased movements to allow for the politically-motivated divestment of funds, despite their performance, and plans using unrealistic assumptions that lead to more politically advantageous outcomes, our public pensions are staring down the barrel of more than $6 trillion in debt. What’s worse, is that the debt could be even worse than that if more realistic assumptions are used.

The revolutionary calculator created by IPFI aggregates the data from each state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to display never-before compiled information that allows taxpayers, pensioners, and policymakers to see the impact of changing the core assumptions, even by just 1%.

The IPFI Pension Gap Calculator shows the following:

  • When a user moves the mortality rate calculator, the reduction is applied across the board at every age level and is then used to estimate the additional rise in liabilities. As retirees live longer, the amount of benefits owed to them increases, causing liabilities to rise.
  • What does the unfunded liability look like if the assumed rate of return is lowered? This is where the calculator comes in with the ability to adjust the rate of return from 2% up to 15%. As you lower the assumed rate of return, you will increase the level of unfunded liabilities. Users can watch as the bar graph skyrockets as the module moves closer and closer to 2%.

“The politicization of our public pensions must stop,” said IPFI President Christopher Burnham recently. He continued saying, “Without realistic return and mortality rate calculations, the retirement crisis our nation faces will only grow larger. This calculator allows plan beneficiaries and taxpayers to see the effects of these miscalculations on their own retirement systems in real time.”

IPFI will continue bringing transparency and accountability to the state of our nation’s public pensions, with additional data being added in coming months.

The Pension Gap Calculator is available at, along with a collection of other white papers and resources that show the true state of public pensions in the United States.


The Institute for Pension Fund Integrity seeks to ensure that local, state and federal leaders are held responsible for their choices in investment, led not by political ideation and opinion but instead by fiduciary responsibility. IPFI is a non-partisan, non-profit organization based out of Arlington, Virginia, and spearheaded by former Connecticut State Treasurer Christopher B. Burnham.