DEFINITION of 'Underfunded Pension Plan'
A company retirement plan that has more liabilities than assets. In other words, the money needed to cover current and future retirements is not readily available. Hence, there is no assurance that future retirees will receive the pensions they were promised or that current retirees will continue to get their previously established distribution amount.
BREAKING DOWN 'Underfunded Pension Plan'
Pension plans can become underfunded in a variety of ways. Interest rate changes, a weak stock market, mergers and bankruptcies can all greatly affect company pensioners. During times of an economic slowdown pension plans are most susceptible to becoming underfunded.