Defined Benefit Administration (DB-A)

Register for the DB-A exam:
DB-A Exam Attempt 1
DB-A Exam Attempt 2

2017 DB-A Syllabus
Certificate Program
Course Overview
Exam Details
Exam Deadline - December 13, 2017
Required and Supplementary Reading
Exam and Publication Errata and References
Continuing Education (CE) Credits
View all ASPPA Defined Benefit education and training offerings

Certificate Program

Many firms that administer defined benefit plans rely heavily on non-actuarial staff to interact with defined benefit plan sponsors and to partner with the plan’s actuary to prepare the plan valuation and tax filings. The DBA certificate will provide the non-actuary with an understanding of the administration of a defined benefit plan, including the basics of determining contributions, the applicable deadlines, calculations for termination and retirement benefits, and other critically important aspects of these types of plans.

As a result of the knowledge gained from the DBA certificate, a certificate holder is extremely valuable to firms that administer defined benefit plans. Whether the plan’s actuary works at the same firm or the plan’s actuarial work is outsourced, the DBA certificate holder is a key component in successful defined benefit plan administration.

The DBA certificate program is designed for entry level to intermediate level DB administrators. This program does not delve deeply into actuarial calculations (e.g. mechanics of funding calculations) but covers them sufficiently so that a passing candidate could effectively consult with a defined benefit plan client.

The DB-A exam is administered online in open-book, multiple-choice format. Upon successful completion of the DB-A exam, ASPPA will automatically issue the Defined Benefit Administration certificate online.

Course Overview

The Defined Benefit Administration (DB-A) course concentrates on intermediate administrative and basic consulting issues of defined benefit plans. The course covers a broad range of topics at an intermediate level, including: determining accrued benefits; Present Value calculations and alternate forms of benefit; hybrid and floor offset plans; post-normal retirement age accruals; early retirement, disability, ancillary, and incidental benefits; benefit limits under IRC §415; participant notices, plan assets; valuations; funding and accounting reports; and the ASPPA Code of Professional Conduct.

It is presumed that a candidate taking the DB-A examination will have knowledge of the material covered in ASPPA’s DB exam and the Retirement Plan Fundamentals (RPF) exam series, although there are no prerequisites. Please refer to the DB-A syllabus for specific learning objectives and exam topic weightings.

Exam Details

The DB-A exam is an open-book online exam and consists of 75 multiple choice and true/false questions. Upon completion of the exam, you will receive an immediate score and feedback report. A score of 64 or more out of 75 is a passing score (85%).

Exam Submission Deadline: The deadline to submit the DB-A examination is midnight, Eastern Time on December 13, 2017 (11pm Central, 10pm Mountain, 9pm Pacific). There will be no exceptions. Online examinations and practice examinations cannot be postponed to a future testing window/program year.

To register, a candidate must have an account with ASPPA. To set up an account click here. Candidates can register online for the DB-A Exam Attempt 1 and DB-A Exam Attempt 2 Exams or download the DB-A registration form and send via mail or fax to 703.516.9308. Once registered for the DB-A examination, you will receive access information to the new Retirement Plan Academy (RPA) Learning Management System (LMS) within 2 hours. You may complete a portion of the exam, save it, and return to the exam at another time to complete it.

Exam Fees - The non-refundable registration fee for the DB-A exam is $224.

Estimated hours needed to study - Study time depends greatly on the experience level of the student. It is estimated that the average candidate will need 60-120 hours of study time.

Required and Supplementary Reading

The DB-A required reading is available for purchase from the online bookstore or by downloading the publications order form.

The required reading is:

Recommended Reading:
  • Elegant Ethical Solutions by Lauren Bloom [order online or download the publications order form]
  • Tripodi, Sal L. The ERISA Outline Book. Arlington, VA: ASPPA. Use the most recent edition available. The 2015 examination only covers changes in law and regulations established prior to August 1, 2014. The examination does cover changes implemented in the Pension Protection Act (PPA).

It is the candidate’s responsibility to review all of ASPPA’s exam policies and procedures, which can be found on Candidate Corner.

Exam and Publication Errata & References

For updates to ASPPA’s publications and examinations please click here. Stop by regularly as new updates may have been posted. It is the candidates responsibility to check the errata before preparing for and sitting for an ASPPA examination.

Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Candidates who have successfully completed an ASPPA certificate program examination will earn 7.5 ASPPA CE credits. Credits will be applied to the CE cycle in which the score is issued. For more information on ASPPA examination CE credit click here.

7 ERPA credits for successful completion of the DB-A exam may be awarded.
IRS ERPA Credit Program Number: CZTXU-Q-00076-12-S

The final decision as to the number of ERPA credits rests solely with the Internal Revenue Service.