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September 23, 2009 \ Compliance \ Costs \ Administration \ Design \ Policy

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[Official Guidance]
Text of Fall 2009 Edition of IRS 'Employee Plans News' (PDF)

16 pages. Excerpt: "This edition contains the following articles: Dos and Don'ts of Hardship Distributions . . . When Limits Collide, Which One Wins? . . . Loans and Hardships in 401(k) Plans . . . A Message from the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities: Stakeholders: please participate! . . . 401(k) Phone Forum Rescheduled to September 30, 2009 . . . Ways to Avoid Delays: Determination Letter Application Processing Procedures" (Internal Revenue Service)


[Guidance Overview]
IRS Extends FBAR Deadline Until October 15, 2009, for Certain Filers

Excerpt: "On September 21, 2009, the Internal Revenue Service once again extended the deadline for certain U.S. persons to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, Form TD F 90-22.1 (FBAR). The announcement provides that those otherwise required to file FBAR by September 23, 2009, are now permitted to file by October 15, 2009, without penalty. This extension is helpful for filers not already eligible for the deadline extension granted by the IRS in Notice 2009-62 (e.g., trusts, trustees, custodians and plan sponsors)." (Groom Law Group)


[Guidance Overview]
Recent Defined Contribution Plan Guidance: Automatic Enrollment, Paid Time Off Contributions, 404(c) and Mutual Fund Prospectus (PDF)

4 pages. Excerpt: "This Alert highlights recent guidance regarding (1) automatic enrollment features in 401(k) plans, (2) the contribution of unused paid time off to tax-qualified defined contribution plans as either employer contributions or employee salary deferral contributions, and (3) the permissibility of distributing a mutual fund's 'Summary Prospectus' to participants to satisfy one of the requirements for limited fiduciary protection under section 404(c) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)." (Drinker Biddle Reath LLP)


Part-Time New Mexico Governmental Workers Sue to Stop Pension Deductions
Excerpt: "New Mexico's highest court has been asked to stop the state from collecting higher pension contributions from part-time governmental workers earning less than $20,000 a year. According to cnbc.com, the lawsuit filed in the state Supreme Court says pension payments are wrongly being deducted from salaries of state workers earning more than $9.579 an hour but who annually make less than $20,000. Starting in July, certain state workers had to contribute an extra 1.5 percent of their salaries to pension programs." (Cypen & Cypen)


Where Investment Committees Spend Their Time
Excerpt: "Investment committees often spend too much time on things they can't control and too little time on things they can. Use this tool to see if there are opportunities for your committee to use time more wisely." (The Vanguard Group, Inc.)


Reenrollment and Target-Date Funds: A Case Study in Portfolio Reconstruction
Excerpt: "A new research paper from Vanguard Center for Retirement Research examines participant behavior and portfolios after a large defined contribution plan reenrolled participants into target-date funds. The study found that one year after the event, 87% of participants maintained a full or partial position in the target-date approach and that reenrollment had boosted plan diversification substantially." (The Vanguard Group, Inc.)


Call for Papers: Retirement Security in the New Economy: Paradigm Shifts, New Approaches and Holistic Strategies
Excerpt: "Given the confluence of [recent economic] events, a number of questions come to the forefront. How can individuals and families maintain a reliable income stream in retirement that can sustain adverse economic events? How can they protect against financial ruin from exorbitant expenses for health and long-term care? How can financial planners and their clients improve decision-making along with better ways to frame and communicate the challenges and potential solutions? What are potential new products that can address these challenges? How can individuals optimize their decisions focusing on products, services and strategies based on the latest research and disciplined thinking, rather than sales slogans and misperceptions? These questions and other related ones are the motivation for this Call for Papers." (Society of Actuaries)


Social Security's Future and Your Retirement
Excerpt: "By 2037, the trustees reported, the surplus in the Social Security trust fund will be completely spent, which is four years sooner than the estimate in last year's trustees report. At that point, Social Security tax collections would be sufficient to pay only 76% of promised benefits, according to the trustees' estimate. [Vanguard] asked Olivia S. Mitchell, Ph.D., one of the world's foremost authorities on pensions and retirement, to explain Social Security's looming funding shortfall and the implications it has for future retirees." (The Vanguard Group, Inc.)


Despite the Economy, You Can Play Catch-Up with Your Retirement Plan Investments (PDF)
Excerpt: "Investors who want to crunch their own numbers can try some of the new how-long-to-recoup calculators that have started populating the Web. There's one designed by the investment firm T. Rowe Price at Kiplinger.com, another at Principal Financial Group, and a third at the financial software group Ativa's site. What's the best way to rebuild your nest egg? According to most financial advisers, don't lament the tumult of the last year or try too hard to profit from short-term share prices going forward. Instead, they say, clients should simply stick with their plans: save and invest more, spend less, and try not to worry about the ups and downs that will always be a part of the financial markets." (NewsWeek)


401(k) Plan Sponsors More Likely to Change Advisers Than Record Keepers
Excerpt: "Why are less than 3% of plan sponsors unwilling to change their record keeper as compared to almost 10% in 2005? Some of the reasons include: Platforms have more investment options, so there is less need to change record keepers to get new funds. Consolidation has driven out really bad providers. There is no magic bullet service or feature that causes a change. There is less incentive for advisers to force a switch. We're seeing commoditization of technology and service offerings." (Employee Benefit Adviser; free registration required)


[Opinion]
ERIC Urges Supreme Court to Reverse Appeals Court Failure to Provide Judicial Deference Under ERISA Plan

Excerpt: "The case arose when company employees sued their ERISA retirement plan and administrator challenging the method used to calculate how their current benefits are offset to reflect prior distributions. The employees claimed that the plan violated ERISA's provisions relating to summary plan description, notice, and anti-cutback rules." (The ERISA Industry Committee)


[Opinion]
Letter of August 3 Regarding the Use of Surplus Assets As Matching Contributions Under 401(k) Replacement Plans (PDF)

2 pages. Excerpt: "[[W]e are requesting that the IRS place on its business plan for 2009-2010 a regulation project that would amend this provision to permit such a transfer of surplus assets made under code section 4980(d) and that it not be treated as violating regulation 1.401(m)-1(a)(2)(iii)." (American Academy of Actuaries)


[Opinion]
American Benefits Council Amicus Brief with U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit in Conkright v. Frommert (PDF)

25 pages. Excerpt: "Amici and their members seek to ensure that voluntary employee benefit plans remain a workable and vital feature of the American employment landscape. When courts refuse to defer to a plan administrator's reasonable exercise of discretionary authority, some employers may question the wisdom of continuing to maintain such plans in the future." (American Benefits Council)


[Opinion]
Remaking the Retirement Plan, Post-Crisis

Excerpt: "Retirement was never meant to last for decades and current longevity is the reason why uncapped defined-benefit pension plans are an unsustainable financial burden on business. The demise of DB plans, as well as the sharp decline in employment tenure, has pushed the headache of retirement planning onto individuals. Most boomers are unprepared to support themselves (and often their ailing parents or adult children) over a multi-decade retirement period." (American Banker)



ASPPA (Advert.)

Attention all Retirement Plan Professionals! (clickable image)

Attention all Retirement Plan Professionals!

The 2009 ASPPA Annual Conference (November 1 – 4) is bigger and better than ever. Join 1,600 of your peers at the exquisite Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center on the historic Potomac River. Take advantage of over 60 interactive workshops presented by nationally renowned experts and top practitioners from all facets of the retirement plan industry, including representatives from the IRS and DOL. Advance your knowledge. Enhance your credibility. Expand your network of like-minded professionals! This is the industry’s top venue for all retirement plan professionals - - with up to 24 hours of ASPPA CE credit, ERPA CPE credit and core/non-core JBEA credit hours for Enrolled Actuaries, including professionalism credits. In this rapidly changing environment, it’s never been more important to attend. Register today and stay at the top of your game!

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2009 (PDF)
489 pages. Excerpt: "The National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides comprehensive measures of occupational earnings, compensation cost trends, as well as incidence and detailed provisions of employee benefit plans. This bulletin presents estimates of the incidence of and key provisions of selected employee benefit plans. Estimates presented are on benefits for civilian workers - workers in private industry and in State and local government - by various employee and employer characteristics. For the purposes of the NCS, Federal government, agricultural, and household workers, and the self-employed, are excluded." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


NCEO Introduces ESOP Company Board Member Training Package
ESOP companies have increasingly created a more formal role for their boards, often bringing in outside members or adding managers or other employees to the board. Many ESOP company board members, however, are not fully aware of their duties as a board member in an ESOP environment, and some are not very familiar with how ESOPs work. This training package provides a practical, inexpensive way to address this issue. It consists of The ESOP Company Board Handbook plus two prerecorded Webinars. (National Center for Employee Ownership)



Webcasts and Conferences

"Cash Balance Plans for Defined Contribution Practitioners" Archived Web Seminar
Nationwide on September 22, 2009
presented by SunGard Relius

"EFAST2: The Future of Form 5500" in Atlanta
in Georgia on October 29, 2009
presented by SunGard Relius

"EFAST2: The Future of Form 5500" in Bloomington
in Illinois on October 29, 2009
presented by SunGard Relius

"ERISA Workshop" in Atlanta
in Georgia on October 30, 2009
presented by SunGard Relius

"ERISA Workshop" in Bloomington
in Illinois on October 30, 2009
presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Forms, Notices, and Amendments: Streamlined, Effective, Timely" in Atlanta
in Georgia on October 29, 2009
presented by SunGard Relius

"Plan Forms, Notices, and Amendments: Streamlined, Effective, Timely" in Bloomington
in Illinois on October 29, 2009
presented by SunGard Relius

Compensation for Executives and Directors 24th Annual National Institute
in New York on October 26, 2009
presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits

Eligibility Audits for Health Plans (including Health FSAs and HRAs): Protect Your Plans From Covering Ineligibles
Nationwide on October 22, 2009
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

(Click to post your webcast or conference)

Press Releases

Nearly Half of Employers Now Auto-Enroll Employees in 401(k) Plans, Watson Wyatt Survey Finds
Watson Wyatt

ERIC Urges Supreme Court to Reverse Appeals Court Failure to Provide Judicial Deference Under ERISA Plan
ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee)

ERIC Expresses Concern Over Provisions in Senate Finance Committee "Mark"
ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee)

Senate Finance Committee Health Reform Bill Includes Flawed Tax Policy
American Benefits Council

Finance Executives Plan Changes to Retirement Plans to Reduce Risk and Provide Employees with a More Secure Retirement
Prudential Financial, Inc.

NBCH Issues Guide to Help Employers Design Benefit Plans that Keep People Healthy
National Business Coalition on Health

Pacific Life Uses HighRoads to Augment Summary Plan Description (SPD) ERISA Compliance
HighRoads, Inc.

MassMutual Garners Multiple PSCA Signature Awards for “Retirement Revolution” Documentary
MassMutual

Wagner Law Group Endorses Retirement Plan Consulting Program
Commonwealth Financial Network

ASPPA and NTSAA Look to Combine Operations
ASPPA and NTSAA

Miller & Chevalier Announce that Tess J. Ferrera has Joined the Firm as a Member in the ERISA and Fiduciary Litigation Practice
Miller & Chevalier

(Click to post your press release)

Employee Benefits Jobs

Supervisor, Pension Administration Services
for Milliman
in TX

Senior Benefits Specialist
for Dresser-Rand
in NY

(Click to post your job opening | View all jobs | RSS feed for jobs RSS feed of all jobs )


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