GE (GE) is taking what is calling a “sizable step” to reduce the deficit in its employee pension plan by as much as $5 to $8 billion. The company announced $9 to 11 billion in net debt reductions over the last month, adding to the news that it would be freezing pensions for more than 20,000 employees..

The pension freeze also affects about 700 executives under its U.S. Supplementary Pension in addition to the 20,000 salaried workers also announced. GE said it will also offer a limited time lump sum payment option to 100,000 eligible former employees that have not started drawing payments from the pension plan. Notices will be sent to these employees in December 2019.

The pension freeze will begin on Jan. 1, 2021, and is said not to affect GE retirees that are already collection pension benefits through the program. Employees with production benefits will also not be impacted, GE said.

Pension benefits accrued through Dec. 31, 2020, will not be affected by the pension plan freeze, but no additional benefits will be accrued after this date, GE said. Executives appointed after Jan. 1, 2021, will be provided a new contribution benefit plan, according to the company.

The company is also looking to pre-fund approximately $4 to $5 billion of estimated ERISA for 2021 and 2022 as it works to improve its financial standing. GE said the move is in line with “current industry standards and competitive market practices.”

GE closed its pension plan to new employees in 2012, which it said was part of its plan to deleverage the pension program by the end of 2020.

“Returning GE to a position of strength has required us to make several difficult decisions, and today’s decision to freeze the pension is no exception,” Kevin Cox, chief human resources officer at GE, said in a statement.

“We carefully weighed market trends and our strategic priority to improve our financial position with the impact to our employees. We are committed to helping our employees through this transition, he added.

Shares of GE stock were up 0.18 percent as of 11:36 a.m. ET on Monday.

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General Electric Co. (GE) logo. GE has sold its Life Sciences unit to Danaaher Corporation for $21.4 billion. Scott Olson/Getty Images