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Ret plans - admin

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[Guidance Overview] Are Your Qualified and Nonqualified Employee Benefit Plans in Compliance with the New ERISA Disability Claims Regs?
"[W]here a plan does not provide for its own fiduciaries to make a determination of disability -- but instead defers to the determination made by the administrator of another plan (like the employer's long-term disability plan) -- then only the terms of the other plan need to be amended. Examples include health plans that extend eligibility, or deferred compensation plans that provide accelerated vesting, to claimants who are receiving benefits under the employer's long-term disability plan or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)." (Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP)
What You Should Know About Your Plan's ERISA Fidelity Bond Coverage
"Plans should have ERISA fidelity bond coverage from an approved provider as of the beginning of the plan reporting period with a coverage amount in accordance with the regulations.... Who needs to be covered? ... What type of coverage do I need? ... Which coverage is required to be disclosed on the Plan's annual Form 5500? ... How much coverage do I need? ... Is my provider an approved provider?" (WithumSmith+Brown, PC)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2018-21: Modifications to Procedures for Issuing Opinion and Advisory Letters for Pre-Approved Master and Prototype and Volume Submitter Plans (PDF)
"[T]his revenue procedure modifies sections 6.03(7)(c) and 16.03(7)(c) of Rev. Proc. 2015-36 to allow pre-approved defined benefit plans containing a cash balance formula to provide for the actual rate of return on plan assets as the rate used to determine interest credits. This revenue procedure also modifies section 6.03 (7)(c) of Rev. Proc. 2017-41 relating to the rates that are permitted to be used to determine interest credits in pre-approved defined benefit plans containing a cash balance formula. In addition, this revenue procedure changes references to 'hypothetical interest' and 'hypothetical interest credits' in Rev. Proc. 2015-36 to 'interest credits', consistent with terminology in Rev. Proc. 2017-41." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
[Official Guidance] Text of Instructions for IRS Form CT-1X: Adjusted Employer's Annual Railroad Retirement Tax Return or Claim for Refund (PDF)
13 pages, rev. Feb. 2018. "What's New: Employee consents to support a claim for refund.... Period of limitations to make certain corrections expired." [Also available: Form CT-1X: Adjusted Employer's Annual Railroad Retirement Tax Return or Claim for Refund] (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
[Guidance Overview] New Disability Claims Procedures Take Effect April 2, 2018
"Plan sponsors should start by identifying which of their ERISA plans allow for an exercise of discretion by a claims administrator in determining the disability status of a participant.... [It] is this exercise of discretion -- rather than the application of an impartial, objective standard -- that implicates the Final Rule. Accordingly, claims under a health plan, a long- or short-term disability plan, or even a retirement plan could be affected." (Verrill Dana LLP)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2018-22: Weighted Average Interest Rates, Yield Curves, and Segment Rates Applicable for March 2018 (PDF)
"This notice provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates used under Section 417(e)(3), and the 24-month average segment rates under Section 430(h)(2) ... In addition, this notice provides guidance as to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury securities under Section 417(e)(3)(A)(ii)(II) as in effect for plan years beginning before 2008 and the 30-year Treasury weighted average rate under Section 431(c)(6)(E)(ii)(I)." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Proposed Legislation Would Help Individuals Find Unclaimed Retirement Benefits and Provide Relief to Employers with Missing Participants
"The Act would create the Office of Retirement Savings Lost and Found [RSLF], which would rely on new tools and build on existing reporting and disclosure rules ... When participants separate from service, plan administrators would be required to provide them with information about the availability of the RSLF.... [T]he Act provides new options for plans to dispose of small balances and provides a compliance cushion when certain requirements can't be met because a participant or beneficiary is lost or missing." (Ascensus)
Looking for Missing Participants? Help Is on the Way
"The program also provides sponsors with the confidence of a multiagency-approved process for dealing with the account balances of lost participants.... [T]he PBGC notes that these rules were written in consultation with the DOL and the [IRS]. Hopefully, this change signals the direction the DOL is headed with active, ongoing plans as well, but for now, active plans are not eligible to use the PBGC's program." (Findley Davies | BPS&M)
GAO Testimony before House Oversight Committee: Federal Regulations -- Opportunities to Improve the Effectiveness of and Transparency of Regulatory and Guidance Practices (PDF)
21 pages. "[T]his testimony discusses : [1] the extent to which the Departments of ... Health and Human Services (HHS), and Labor (DOL) adhered to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements and internal controls when developing regulatory guidance and [2] agencies' compliance with the Congressional Review Act (CRA) for regulations promulgated during presidential transitions. We consistently found opportunities to improve the transparency and effectiveness of regulatory and guidance practices." [GAO-18-436T, March 14, 2018] (U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO])
401(k) Fiduciaries: Is It Time to Hone Your Processes?
"Establish and run processes that demonstrate they have leveraged the lowest cost fees based on their plan size and servicing needs. If the fees their plan pays exceed market norms, they need to be able to show why the fees are reasonable.... Articulate why one investment was chosen over the other. Dig down deeper in understanding whether actual fund plan investments align with investment objectives." (Fiduciary Plan Governance, LLC)
[Guidance Overview] New Disability Claims Procedure Regulations Take Effect on April 1, 2018
"If the new claims procedures are not followed, then the claimant will be deemed to have exhausted administrative remedies. As a result, the claimant would be allowed to immediately file a lawsuit to seek a review of the disability determination. The court reviewing the claim would not be required to give any deference to the prior decision of the plan as a result of the failure to follow the new claims procedures." (Duane Morris LLP)
[Guidance Overview] New ERISA Claims Procedures for Plans Providing Disability Benefits Effective April 1, 2018
"Appeal denial notices should be revised to include the time limitation as to when a claimant can bring a claim in federal court under Section 502(a). All notices must also be presented in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner, which means that the plan must provide oral language services to claimants such as answering questions in a non-English language and providing assistance with filing claims in any applicable non-English language." (Holland & Knight)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2018-19: Retroactive Reduction of Form 5310 User Fee (PDF)
"[T]his revenue procedure changes one user fee set forth in Appendix A of Rev. Proc. 2018-4, Schedule of User Fees, with respect to applications on Form 5310, Application for Determination for Terminating Plan. That user fee is reduced from $3,000 to $2,300, effective January 2, 2018. Applicants who paid the $3,000 user fee listed in Rev. Proc. 2018-4 will receive a refund of $700." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
IRS Digs in on New VCP Fee Structure
"While the IRS said it will 'certainly consider' the comments and recommendations regarding the impact of the new user fees on small businesses,' after a brief explanation as to the biennial process for reviewing user fees, and noting that those fees vary 'after considering the average time (and difficulty of) complying with the requests,' exemptions and reduced fees are allowed where the IRS deems them to be appropriate." (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA])
[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Interest Rate Update for Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans, April and Second Quarter 2018
"The second quarter 2018 interest assumptions under the allocation regulation will be 2.27 percent for the first 20 years following the valuation date and 2.59 percent thereafter. In comparison with the interest assumptions in effect for the first quarter of 2018, this represents no change in the select period ..., a decrease of 0.12 percent in the select rate, and a decrease of 0.01 percent in the ultimate rate (the final rate). The April 2018 interest assumptions under the benefit payments regulation will be 1.00 percent for the period during which a benefit is in pay status and 4.00 percent during any years preceding the benefit's placement in pay status. In comparison with the interest assumptions in effect for March 2018, these interest assumptions represent a 0.25 percent increase in the immediate rate and no changes in i1, i2, or i3." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])
The Mobile Workforce�s Missing Participant Problem (PDF)
13 presentation slides. "Key Findings: [1] 11% of all terminated account records had a stale address ('missing'); [2] 1 out of every 5 job changer relocations results in a missing participant; [3] The probability of locating a missing participant with an active participant address record is 67%; [4] 9% of participants would not verify their address if asked by a former employer; [5] One third of participants learned of a retirement account with a previous employer they did not realize they had; [6] 60% of participants preferred an automated process to update address or consolidate accounts." (Retirement Clearinghouse)
March ESOP Madness: Ready to Make the Most of Your Annual Participant Statements?
"[1] Develop a communications goal ... [2] Communicate the rules of the 'ESOP game' ... [3] Use a 'dummy' or sample statement to show the score ... [4] Share stats to illustrate what drove stock value ... [5] Give employee owners a game program ... [6] Have fun and celebrate employee ownership." (Blue Ridge ESOP Associates)
IRS Intends to Issue Opinion and Advisory Letters for Pre-Approved Defined Benefit Plans for the Second Six-Year Remedial Amendment Cycle
"[Ann. 2018-05] extends the end of the pre-approved defined benefit plan's remedial amendment cycle with respect to changes included in the 2012 Cumulative List from January 31, 2019 (as provided in Rev. Proc. 2016-37) to April 30, 2020.... An adopting employer of an M&P or VS plan may apply for an individual determination letter (if eligible) during the period beginning May 1, 2018, and ending April 30, 2020." (Thomson Reuters Practical Law)
Can Bonuses Be Excluded from Retirement Plan Compensation?
"The most common definitions of compensation used in plan documents are tied to amounts reportable on Form W-2 or used to determine income tax withholding.... Although it is possible to modify a default definition of compensation, there is a special test in place to ensure the alternate definition does not discriminate in favor of the plan's highly compensated employees." (DWC)
[Guidance Overview] New ERISA Disability Benefit Claims and Appeals Rules Take Effect April 2, 2018
"The new rules will apply to disability benefit claims under both pension and welfare plans, but only if the plan's claims adjudicator must make a determination of disability in order to decide the claim. If a plan conditions eligibility for benefits on a finding of disability by a third party, such as the Social Security Administration (SSA) or an employer's long-term disability plan, the plan is not subject to the new rules. Plans may be amended to condition eligibility on a determination of disability made by the SSA or the employer's long-term disability plan to avoid the application of the new rules[.]" (Hanson Bridgett LLP)
Issues for Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries to Follow
"Fiduciary regulation may be substantially on hold, but other regulators are on the move ... Tax reform's impact on Schedule C reporting for expenses in 2018 ... DOJ memo to U.S. Attorneys regarding guidance policy in litigation has implications for health and retirement plans ... SCOTUS again considers claim of lifetime retiree medical benefits ... Short term limited duration insurance proposal ... Vasectomy or male contraception benefit disqualifies from HDHP status ... HSA contribution limit dropped for 2018." (Winstead PC)
Bipartisan Budget Act Affects Retirement and Health Care Plans
"The act increases Medicare premiums for some and closes the Medicare Part D coverage gap a year ahead of schedule. Recipients of retirement plan distributions due to the California wildfires are now eligible for the same tax relief provided last year for distributions due to major hurricanes. The act repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was created under the ACA to curb the growth in Medicare spending." (Willis Towers Watson)
More 401(k) Plans Moving Away from Revenue-Sharing Model
"[A] Callan survey showed that 54.7% of plans used a per-participant fee last year to pay for plan administration vs. 41.6% in 2016.... A survey ... by Willis Towers Watson PLC found 41% of plans used a fixed-dollar amount per participant for record-keeping fees vs. 32% in 2014 ... DC industry members said there's room for revenue sharing depending on plans' unique circumstances. And in the case of 403(b) plans with lineups heavily weighted toward annuities, sponsors cannot easily drop revenue sharing." (Pensions & Investments)
PBGC Issues Proposed Regs on Owner-Participant Changes to Guaranteed Benefits and Asset Allocation
"The proposed regulations would conform the PBGC's regulations to the PPA.... Plan administrators should be aware that the proposed rule allows them to continue to use the simplified calculation in the existing rule to estimate benefits funded by plan assets." (Thomson Reuters Practical Law)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS EP Examination Memo TE/GE-04-0218-0011: Missing Participants and Beneficiaries and Required Minimum Distributions -- 403(b) Plans (PDF)
"For purposes of IRC Section 403(b)(10), EP examiners shall not challenge a 403(b) contract for violation of the RMD standards for the failure to commence or make a distribution to a participant or beneficiary to whom a payment is due, if the plan has taken the following steps: [1] searched plan and related plan, sponsor, and publicly-available records or directories for alternative contact information; [2] used any of [three listed] search methods ... and [3] attempted contact via [USPS] certified mail to the last known mailing address and through appropriate means for any address or contact information (including email addresses and telephone numbers)." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
How Will Tax Reform Affect DB Plan Sponsors?
"Thus for companies in the 35 percent corporate income tax bracket, the potential tax savings by advance funding a contribution for 2017 is not only the 14 percent difference in corporate tax rate, it essentially includes the 3.8 percent variable premium rate on unfunded vested benefits in 2018, a 4.2 percent variable premium rate in 2019, and higher variable premium rates in future years so long as the plan stays in effect." (Findley Davies | BPS&M)
[Guidance Overview] DOL Says New Disability Claim Regs to Apply April 1
"The 2016 amendments add a new requirement applicable during the claim appeal phase: a plan must give a claimant reasonable time to review and respond to 'new or additional evidence' or a 'new or additional rationale' for denying his or her claim.... [The DOL] places no limits on the amount of back-and-forth required. Nor is there any adjustment in the time allowed for rendering a decision in order to accommodate this additional procedure.... [T]he preamble also suggests that when the claimant does respond, if the response prompts further review by a medical professional, which is likely (and may be required by the regulations), the plan may need to send the matter to the claimant for another response, and so on." (Ogletree Deakins)
[Guidance Overview] Tax Reform and Budget Deal Affect Hardship Distributions from 401(k)s
"One possibility would be to follow the letter of the law and limit hardship distributions to home repair costs arising from a federally declared disaster. Or, sponsors of individually designed plans might consider switching to the more flexible facts-and-circumstances approach to granting hardship distributions (although the switch could complicate plan administration). Finally, some sponsors may choose to adopt a wait-and-see approach as the IRS might modify its regulations to continue permitting hardship distributions in accordance with the prior law. The fact that the budget deal directs the IRS to amend the hardship distribution regulations increases the chances that the agency will address the casualty loss issue as well." (Willis Towers Watson)
Changing DC Plan Recordkeepers: Steps for a Smooth and Successful Transition
"Risks associated with a conversion include the potential for unexpected disruption to participant accounts, lengthy blackout periods, lost data, costly reconciliations and misunderstood communications.... Risks ... can be effectively managed under a well-developed transition plan as part of a plan's overall approach to managing operational risk. An additional benefit of the transition process is that it presents an opportunity to review plan operations and processes with an eye toward improvement." (Segal Consulting)
Retirement Registry Proposed Again
"The Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act of 2018 would direct the Social Security Commissioner and the Treasury Secretary to create ... a new searchable database containing account and contact information. The registry would use the data employers are already required to report ... on Form 8955-SSA, and would expand reporting requirements to include mandatory reporting of distributions (including automatic IRA rollovers) and transfers so that individuals would be able to track funds to current vendors and know whether funds had previously been delivered to them." (Conduent)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Expands Missing Participant Guidance for 403(b) Plans (PDF)
"IRS ... examiners will not challenge a qualified plan, including a 403(b) plan, for a violation of the minimum distribution requirements if the plan sponsor has taken the following steps: [1] Searched plan and related plan, sponsor, and publicly available records or directories for alternative contact information. [2] Used any of [three specified] search methods ... [3] Attempted contact via U.S. Postal Service certified mail to the last known mailing address and through appropriate means for any address or contact information." (Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, via Bloomberg Tax Daily Tax Report)
'Hell's Kitchen' Plan Document Mistakes
"Plan sponsors spend so much time and effort crafting the perfect plan document that when they finally get to the finish line, they overlook the basics and neglect to follow through on the document's execution, which can put all that hard work in jeopardy.... The perfect plan document was created and signed, but wasn't shared with the recordkeeper(s) -- you know, the people who actually administer the plan document?" (Cammack Retirement Group)
Notes from Meeting of Actuaries 'Intersector Group' with IRS, October 11, 2017 (PDF)
8 pages. Topics include: [1] Mortality tables opt-out: plan sponsor's determination; [2] Partial lump sums: total benefits vs. bifurcation rules; [3] Spinoff issues for plans subject to section 436 restrictions; [4] Multiemployer plan issues; [5] Closed plans/discrimination; [6] Hurricane relief issues; [7] Phased retirement; [8] Pension Equity Plans; [9] Risk sharing designs. (American Academy of Actuaries, Conference of Consulting Actuaries, Society of Actuaries, and ASPPA College of Pension Actuaries [ACOPA])
Notes from Meeting of Actuaries 'Intersector Group' with PBGC, October 11, 2017 (PDF)
6 pages. Topics include: [1] Terminated plans; [2] Section 4010 filings under the new rule; [3] Reportable events; [4] Multiemployer plan issues; [5] Plan terminations where an annuity provider cannot be found; [6] Insolvent multiemployer plans with active contributing employers; [7] Treasury Department interpretation of requirement to lift benefit suspensions after a merger between a distressed multiemployer fund and a larger healthy fund; [8] Missing participants; [9] New Code Section 430 mortality regulations. (American Academy of Actuaries, Conference of Consulting Actuaries, Society of Actuaries, and ASPPA College of Pension Actuaries [ACOPA])
[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Disaster Relief 18-02, in Response to Tropical Storm Gita in American Samoa
"[PBGC] is waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines in response to tropical storm Gita that began on February 7, 2018 ... The relief generally extends from February 7, 2018 through June 29, 2018. The disaster area consists of the Territory of American Samoa." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Disaster Relief AS-2018-01, for Victims of Tropical Storm Gita in American Samoa
"Victims of Tropical Storm Gita that took place beginning on Feb. 7, 2018 in parts of the Territory of American Samoa may qualify for tax relief from the [IRS].... This relief ... includes the filing of Form 5500 series returns that were required to be filed on or after Feb. 7, 2018 and before June 29, 2018[.]" (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Summary Plan Descriptions Required for All ERISA Retirement, Health and Welfare Plans
"Misconceptions of the ERISA rules can lead plan administrators to believe that they either have provided an ERISA-compliant SPD when they have not, or that an SPD is not required at all.... The penalty for failing to provide an ERISA-compliant SPD to participants in a timely manner, or within 30 days of a written request, can be up to $147 per day, per request. (This increased from $110 per day in August 2016.) (Holland & Knight)
2017 State-By-State Pension Benefit Payments
"This listing breaks down the benefits we paid to our participants in 2017. It shows the total amount of benefits paid and the number of people receiving payments in each state. The benefits are from single-employer plans that PBGC trusteed over the years. The total benefit amount paid in 2017 was $5.6 billion to about 868,000 retirees." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])
Fifth Circuit Changes Course on Firestone Interpretation
"The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held that the default (and less deferential) de novo standard of review under the Supreme Court's Firestone decision applies to benefit denials based on factual determinations under [ERISA], rather than the more deferential abuse of discretion standard. The decision overrules long-standing Fifth Circuit precedent, which had become the subject of a circuit split." [Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Texas, Inc., No. 16-20174 (5th Cir. Mar. 1, 2018)] (Thomson Reuters Practical Law)
A Road Map for Effectively Managing a Frozen Pension Plan (PDF)
"This paper provides a four-step road map for deliberate sponsors who want to implement an effective strategy for managing their frozen pension plan -- with the goal of either terminating the plan or managing costs and risks over a longer time horizon.... [1] Evaluate goals ... [2] Understand the liability and other key pension metrics ... [3] Implement an asset/liability investment approach ... [4] Implement and monitor revised investment strategy." (Bank of America Merrill Lynch)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Extends RMD Audit Guidelines for Missing Participants to 403(b) Programs
"In the last year or two, it has been increasingly common for both the IRS and the DOL on audit to demand 'scorch the earth' search methods for missing participants that frequently seem to lack a realistic cost/benefit balance or due sensitivity to privacy considerations.... The guidelines do not address how plans should handle situations in which a participant address has been identified but the participant is unresponsive or will not request distribution, nor do the guidelines address circumstances in which participants fail to cash checks." (Eversheds Sutherland)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Publication 575: Pension and Annuity Income, for Use in Preparing 2017 Returns (PDF)
47 pages. "What's New: New rules provide for tax-favored withdrawals, repayments, and loans from certain retirement plans (including IRAs) for taxpayers who suffered economic losses as a result of Hurricane Harvey or Tropical Storm Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, or the California wildfires.... Beginning in 2018, a qualified plan loan offset amount may be rolled over by the due date (including extensions) for filing the tax return for the tax year in which the offset occurs." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Proposed Regs: Owner-Participant Changes to Guaranteed Benefits and Asset Allocation
30 pages. "This proposed rule would amend PBGC's benefit payment regulation by replacing the guarantee limitations applicable to substantial owners with a new limitation applicable to majority owners. Additionally, this proposed rule would amend PBGC's asset allocation regulation by prioritizing funding of all other benefits in priority category 4 ahead of those benefits that would be guaranteed but for the new, owner-participant limitation. The proposed rule also clarifies that plan administrators may continue to use the simplified calculation in the existing rule to estimate benefits funded by plan assets. Finally, it provides new examples to aid in implementation." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])
Senators Introduct 'Bipartisan Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act'
"[The Act] uses the data employers are already required to report to create a national, online, lost and found for Americans' retirement accounts.... [The proposal] also: [1] Allows employers to more easily invest abandoned accounts into target date funds rather than money-market funds.... [2] Allows for uncashed checks of less than $1,000 to be transferred to Treasury securities ... [3] Clarifies the responsibilities employers and plan administrators have to connect former employees with their neglected accounts." (Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D-MA] and Sen. Steve Daines [R-MT])
[Guidance Overview] Budget Act Includes Hardship and Other Retirement Plan Relief
"[P]lan sponsors and third party administrators should update their hardship procedures before the 2019 plan year.... IRS guidance would be helpful to clarify the scope of these changes -- and the impact if a plan sponsor chooses to retain the current more restrictive hardship provisions (or elects to retain the existing provisions for pre-2019 hardship distributions) (e.g., possible loss of safe harbor hardship status and/or loss of safe harbor 401(k) or 401(m) plan status)." (Groom Law Group)
GAO Report on Workplace Retirement Accounts: Better Guidance and Information Could Help Plan Participants at Home and Abroad Manage Their Retirement Savings
"This report examines key challenges U.S. participants face with: [1] unclaimed retirement accounts in the United States, and [2] complying with U.S. tax reporting requirements on their foreign retirement savings.... GAO recommends Congress consider addressing taxation issues affecting the transfer of retirement assets between plans within the same foreign country. GAO is making seven recommendations, including that DOL issue guidance to help ongoing plan sponsors search for separated participants, and that IRS issue guidance to clarify how U.S. individuals should report foreign retirement savings to the IRS. The agencies generally agreed with GAO's recommendations. IRS disagreed with two of GAO's recommendations." [GAO-18-19, published Jan. 31, 2018, released Mar. 5, 2018] (U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO])
Fifth Circuit Changes Standard of Review of Health Plan Administrator Factual Findings
"Since 1991, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ... [has required courts] to show deference to the factual findings of a benefit plan administrator, regardless of whether the benefit plan conferred such authority on the administrator.... The other circuits only show deference to the factual findings of plan administrators if the benefit plan specifically provides for such deference.... [A]fter more than three years of litigation, the majority of the Fifth Circuit panel agreed to overrule its decision[.]" [Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Texas, Inc., No. 16-20174 (5th Cir. Mar. 1, 2018)] (Your ERISA Watch)
It's Probably Time to Re-Bid Your Benefits Contracts
"[M]ake sure the organization is able to negotiate a competitive contract for the services it needs. Know what you want and need ... and what you don't.... Don't let size limit options.... Get it in writing.... Leverage internal resources." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
The Value of Plan-Specific Substitute Mortality Tables
"Using substitute mortality tables should theoretically improve the fit between expected and actual mortality rates, thereby producing smaller experience gains and losses over time. In addition, for plans employing a workforce that exhibits heavier mortality than the standard tables, using substitute mortality tables could potentially lower both minimum required contributions and PBGC variable-rate premiums." (Milliman Retirement Town Hall)
[Guidance Overview] Congressional Budget Deal Resurrects and Adds Tax Law Changes for Retirement Plans
"Plans must be amended to comply with the new California wildfire disaster-related rules by the last day of the first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2019.... [P]lan sponsors that wish ... to eliminate their plans' requirements for first obtaining all nontaxable loans available under the plan before taking a hardship distribution and for imposing a six-month suspension of participant contributions following a hardship distribution will need to amend their plans." (Nixon Peabody LLP)
Massachusetts Securities Regulator Finds MetLife 'Missing' Pensioners
"MetLife provided the names to Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin's office after its securities division opened an investigation in December. At the time, the insurer announced that it had failed to make payments to thousands of retired workers because it was unable to locate them.... Through its own searches, the state has been able to identify better addresses for a majority of the Massachusetts retirees affected[.]" (Pensions & Investments)
401(k) Hardship Withdrawals Made Easier by the 2018 Budget Act
"While the 2018 Budget Act makes hardship withdrawal rules less restrictive and easier for plan sponsors to administer, plans will need to be amended to incorporate the new rules for plan years beginning after December 31, 2018." (Schneider Downs)
How to Prepare Employees to Be Ready to Retire
"A pivotal factor in helping employees improve their retirement readiness is opening the channels of communication and customizing the messages. To have a meaningful impact, plan-related communication must be actionable and personalized.... Communication should also be easy to understand and delivered on a regular basis, beginning well before retirement age.... [T]he impact of the communication must be measurable, so the results can be monitored." (Sibson Consulting)
Puerto Rico Workers Raise Red Flags on Public Employee 401(k)-Style Plan
"Four national unions ... point to investment losses the workers may have suffered from July 2017 to February 2018, when the market increased 11.4 percent.... The government hasn't set up the individual accounts or segregated the individual contributions to the unions' knowledge ... The government has also failed to create the retirement board, which was set to serve as the plan fiduciary[.]" (Bloomberg BNA)
[Official Guidance] Text of 2017 IRS Form 8915A: Qualified 2016 Disaster Retirement Plan Distributions and Repayments (PDF)
"Attach to 2017 Form 1040, 2017 Form 1040A, or 2017 Form 1040NR." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
March and April 2018 Filing and Notice Deadlines for Qualified Retirement and Health and Welfare Plans
"The filing and notice deadline table ... provides key filing and notice deadlines common to calendar year plans for the next two months. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is generally delayed until the next business day." (King & Spalding)
Investment Refresh: Improving Participant Outcomes Through Re-Enrollment (PDF)
"[R]e-enrollment presents two broad categories of challenges. First, as a threshold manner, the terminology is confusing and misleading. Second, even upon overcoming the terminology, plan sponsors become paralyzed by preconceived notions of participants' reactions and fiduciaries' risk. This White Paper addresses the first of those issues by suggesting a change in terminology. It then acknowledges the most common preconceived notions and provides fiduciaries the context, data, and legal support to evolve toward an informed embrace of a re-enrollment's value." (Qualified Plan Advisors)
Securing Your Organization's Data
"[T]he SEC reported that more than one-half of all cyber-attacks come from employee negligence or intentional malicious efforts from current and former employees ... [1] Develop a Written Information Security Program (WISP) ... [2] Conduct periodic risk assessments ... [3] Analyze cyber security incidents from the past ... [4] Identify the information sharing networks ... [5] Conduct third-party vendor reviews ... [6] Establish data encryption protocols ... [7] Appoint an Information Security Officer tasked with keeping your data protected ... [8] [Keep] all hardware and software up to date." (Cammack Retirement Group)
Ninth Circuit Opinion: Service Provider Is Not an ERISA Fiduciary with Respect to Plan Fees (PDF)
"Indeed, any other outcome would lead to absurd results. If service providers were fiduciaries while negotiating fees, they would have to promise that its fees were no higher than those of any competitor, rather than negotiate at arm's length with an employer. And, an employer who knowingly agreed to a fee structure could nonetheless later sue to lower it, invoking the administrator's fiduciary obligation." [Santomenno v. Transamerica Life Ins. Co., No. 16-56418 (9th Cir. Feb. 23, 2018)] (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit)
[Guidance Overview] Missing Participants and RMDs: Increased Enforcement, Alleged ERISA Violations, and Limited Guidance Cause Headaches for Plan Fiduciaries
"FAB 2014-01 is helpful guidance for administrators of terminating defined contribution plans, but more guidance is needed ... For example, would an ongoing plan be required to run the searches listed above every year while the participant remained missing? ... Contacting coworkers of missing participants will generally be appropriate only under limited circumstances ... Before benefits are forfeited, attempts to notify participants of the impending forfeiture must be made ... [R]ecords must be maintained that would allow those benefits to be reinstated if the missing participant or beneficiary is later located.... [U]nless the [PBGC] program is also expanded to ongoing defined contribution plans, the value ... to most plan administrators seems limited." (Winston & Strawn LLP)

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