The minimum contributions U.S. companies are required to make to their pension plans will rise significantly in coming years, according to a recent study by the Society of Actuaries, which says that increase could lead to more changes in the way companies manage their pension plans.

In the decade that ended in 2009, companies' cash contributions to their defined-benefit plans averaged about $66 billion a year, according to the SOA study. It projects that minimum required contributions will average $90 billion a year in the decade that started in 2010 and hit a peak of about $140 billion in 2016.

The higher contributions reflect the damage done to pension funding during the financial crisis, according to the SOA. The study was released on the heels of a quarter in which the funded status of U.S. pension plans took another beating.

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