The funded status of the top U.S. pension plans came back full force in the first half of 2013, according to analysis from Mercer, and industry insiders are hoping plan sponsors will do what is necessary to reduce their balance sheet risk by the end of the year.

The overall funded status of the S&P 1500 pension plans was down at the end of 2012 and 2011. Assets performed well in 2012, returning a median 12.2 percent, and plan sponsors and participants contributed $81 billion to their plans. But it still wasn’t enough to improve the funded status because of record low discount rates, which dropped to 4 percent, Mercer said.

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