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Are 403(b) vendors allowing a participant to self-certify hardship?

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If a nongovernmental and nonchurch charitable organization prefers to make available voluntary-only wage-reduction arrangements to buy a contract with Internal Revenue Code § 403(b) Federal income tax treatment and do so without establishing or maintaining a plan that would be ERISA-governed, such an employer prefers to avoid discretionary decision-making.

That includes avoiding discretion about whether a participant has a hardship withing the meaning of § 403(b)(7)(A)(i)(V) or § 403(b)(11)(B).

Many public-school employers too prefer to avoid involvement in those decisions.

Are 403(b) insurers and custodians allowing a participant to self-certify her hardship?

Does allowing self-certification help remove not only an employer but also an insurer or custodian from discretionary decisions about hardships?

What’s happening in the real world?

Peter Gulia PC

Fiduciary Guidance Counsel

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



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