In applying accrual accounting to pensions, this Statement retains three fundamental aspects of past pension accounting: delaying recognition of certain events, reporting net cost, and offsetting liabilities and assets. Those three features of practice have shaped financial reporting for pensions for many years, although they have been neither explicitly addressed nor widely understood, and they conflict in some respects with accounting principles applied elsewhere.
The delayed recognition feature means that changes in the pension obligation (including those resulting from plan amendments) and changes in the value of assets set aside to meet those obligations are not recognized as they occur but are recognized systematically and gradually over subsequent periods. All changes are ultimately recognized except to the extent they may be offset by subsequent changes, but at any point changes that have been identified and quantified await subsequent accounting recognition as net cost components and as liabilities or assets.
The net cost feature means that the recognized consequences of events and transactions affecting a pension plan are reported as a single net amoÿÿÿÿ the employer's financial statements. That approach aggregates at least three items that might be reported separately for any other part of an employer's operations: the compensation cost of benefits promised, interest cost resulting from deferred payment of those benefits, and the results of investing what are often significant amounts of assets.
The offsetting feature means that recognized values of assets contributed to a plan and liabilities for pensions recognized as net pension cost of past periods are shown net in the employer's statement of financial position, even though the liability has not been settled, the assets may be still largely controlled, and substantial risks and rewards