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Actuarial Gain Or Loss

Actuarial Gain Or Loss

What is an Actuarial Gain Or Loss?

Actuarial gain or loss alludes to an increase or a diminishing in the projections used to value an enterprise's defined benefit pension plan obligations. The actuarial assumptions of a pension plan are straightforwardly impacted by the discount rate used to work out the current value of benefit payments and the expected rate of return on plan assets. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) SFAS No. 158 requires the funding status of pension funds to be reported on the plan support's balance sheet. This means there are periodic updates to the pension obligations, the fund performance and the financial wellbeing of the plan. Contingent upon plan participation rates, market performance and different factors, the pension plan might experience an actuarial gain or loss in their projected benefit obligation.

While those accounting rules require pension assets and liabilities to be set apart to market on an element's balance sheet, they permit actuarial gains and losses, or changes to actuarial assumptions, to be amortized through comprehensive income in shareholders' equity as opposed to flowing straightforwardly through the income statement.

Grasping Actuarial Gain Or Loss

Actuarial gains and losses are best perceived with regards to overall pension accounting. Aside from where explicitly noticed, this definition tends to pension accounting under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). While U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) endorse comparable principles measuring pension benefit obligations, there are key differences in how the two standards report pension cost in the income statement, especially the treatment of actuarial gains and losses.

Funded status addresses the net asset or liability connected with an organization's defined benefit plans and equals the difference between the value of plan assets and the projected benefit obligation (PBO) for the plan. Esteeming plan assets, which are the investments set to the side for funding the plan benefits, requires judgment yet doesn't include the utilization of actuarial appraisals. Notwithstanding, measuring the PBO requires the utilization of actuarial evaluations, and these actuarial assessments lead to actuarial gains and losses.

There are two primary types of assumptions: economic assumptions that model what market powers mean for the plan and demographic assumptions that model what participant behavior is expected to mean for the benefits paid. Key economic assumptions incorporate the interest rate used to discount future cash outpourings, expected rate of return on plan assets and expected salary increases. Key demographic assumptions incorporate life expectancy, anticipated service periods and expected retirement ages.

Actuarial Gains and Losses Create Volatility in Results

From one period to another, a change in an actuarial assumption, especially the discount rate, can cause a critical increase or lessening in the PBO. In the event that recorded through the income statement, these changes possibly distort the similarity of financial outcomes. Consequently, under U.S. GAAP, these changes are kept through other thorough income in shareholders' equity and are amortized into the income statement over the long run. Under IFRS, these changes are recorded through other extensive income yet are not amortized into the income statement.

Commentary Disclosures Contain Useful Information About Actuarial Assumptions

Accounting rules require definite exposures connected with pension assets and liabilities, remembering period-to-period activity for the accounts and the key assumptions used to measure funded status. These revelations permit financial statement users to comprehend what an organization's pension plans mean for financial position and consequences of operations relative to prior periods and different companies.


  • Actuarial gains and losses are made when the assumptions underlying an organization's projected benefit obligation change.
  • Accounting rules expect companies to unveil both the pension obligations (liabilities) and the assets intended to cover them. This shows investors the overall soundness of the pension fund.
  • All defined benefits pension plans will see periodic actuarial gains or losses as key demographic assumptions or key economic assumptions making up the model are refreshed.