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Benefits in the News > By Subject >

Ret plans - policy


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[Opinion] NJ Pension Proposal Would Exacerbate Pension Problems
"State legislators worried about New Jersey's deep pension debt are contemplating turning over administration of one of the largest retirement funds to workers and retirees. The idea behind the move sounds simple: Workers and retirees, who are beneficiaries of the system, can be relied on to run it well. The only problem is that this has already been tried around the country and has helped create some of the nation's biggest pension fiascos, as workers and unions have managed pensions for their benefit, leaving taxpayers on the hook for huge losses. This is not the kind of reform that Jersey residents facing tens of billions of dollars in pension debt need." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Hospital Pension Plans Seek Relief in Supreme Court
"The oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court over the ability of religiously affiliated hospitals to treat their pension plans as 'church plans' amounted to a 60-minute catechism on statutory interpretation and legislative history ... Despite lurking questions of agency deference and church-state entanglement, the justices and attorneys on March 27 stuck closely to the question presented by the cases: Must a benefit plan be initially established by a church to qualify as a 'church plan' exempt from [ERISA]?" [Advocate Health v. Stapleton, Nos. 16-74, 16-86, 16-258 (consolidated cases argued Mar. 27, 2017)] (Bloomberg BNA)
Justices Seem Hesitant About Extending ERISA to Church-Affiliated Pension Plans
"By the end of the argument, several of the justices seemed to coalesce around a likely outcome, reflecting an unwillingness to extend ERISA to cover plans that have been treated as exempt by the [IRS] and other federal agencies for 30 years. As a textual matter, each party's position has an obvious weakness, and the justices explored those weaknesses when questioning the advocates." [Advocate Health v. Stapleton, Nos. 16-74, 16-86, 16-258 (consolidated cases argued Mar. 27, 2017)] (SCOTUSblog)
Embezzlement of 401(k) Deferrals by COO of Architecture Firm is (Doubly) Costly
"[T]he Second Circuit Court of Appeals ... ruled: [1] Restitution and forfeiture are authorized by separate statutes with different purposes; [2] The court could not find any statutory authority to reduce a criminal forfeiture by restitution paid or payable; and [3] 'Criminal forfeiture is a form of punishment' and distinct from civil remedies to make victims whole. Result[:] the errant fiduciary had to pay twice the amount taken from the retirement plan." [U.S. v Bodouva, No. 16-3937 (2d Cir. Mar. 22, 2017)] (Stinson Leonard Street)
Religious Exemption Confounds High Court
"The justices of the Supreme Court struggled to divine meaning Monday from the omission of two words in a revised law that says religious groups need not face federal employee benefit regulations. Complicating the issue is that a church may be directly involved in the creation and maintenance of a plan, or -- in the case of a church-affiliated hospital, for example -- it may have nothing to do with it." [Advocate Health v. Stapleton, Nos. 16-74, 16-86, 16-258 (consolidated cases argued Mar. 27, 2017)] (Courthouse News Service)
How Much Does a Mutual Fund Company Have to Disclose Under BICE for Funds Governed by ERISA?
"The Introduction of this article gives a detailed look at what the new rules are and how they have changed from the 1975 regulations. Part 1 discusses the possible areas where conflict will be found in disclosures. Part 2 gives a detailed analysis of 15 mutual fund disclosures from various financial advisors.... [The author] assessed whether the disclosures would be materially misleading under the best interest of the client analysis." (Rodgrick Hickman, Student at the University of Mississippi School of Law, via SSRN)
American Health Care Act Fails; What's Next for Employers?
"In the near-term, there will be intense focus on HHS Secretary Price to provide regulatory relief to the maximum extent permitted under the ACA.... One major concern from an employer-side perspective is whether that regulatory effort will be sufficiently focused on issues facing employer-sponsored group health plans.... In the long-term, there are far more comprehensive repeal/replace alternatives that may form the basis of the next attempt at GOP health care reform down the road." (ABD Insurance & Financial Services)
Illinois Governor Vetoes Bill to Help Improve Funding Ratio for Two Chicago Pension Plans
"The measure ... was intended to improve the pension plans' funding ratios to 90% each by 2057 through higher contributions for certain employees and increased city contributions. The bill required that Chicago begin making contributions on an actuarial basis to both pension funds in 2023.... The bill would also have raised payroll contributions for participants of both pension funds hired after Jan. 1, 2017, to 11.5% from 8.5% ... Illinois faces roughly $130 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities across its five state retirement systems." (Pensions & Investments)
Oral Argument March 27 on Definition of 'Church Plan' -- What Issues Are in Play?
"[One] issue that may emerge in the argument is what deference the court should give to rulings by the [IRS] and other agencies on the scope of the exemption. The hospitals' brief argues that if the court deems the statutory language to be ambiguous, it should defer to three decades' worth of agency rulings that such plans are exempt church plans under ERISA." [Advocate Health v. Stapleton, Nos. 16-74, 16-86, 16-258 (oral argument in consolidated cases sched. Mar. 27, 2017)] (Bloomberg BNA)
DOL Fiduciary Rule Status Update
"The [DOL] received 900 comment letters, along with several petitions, in respect of its proposed 60-day delay of the fiduciary rule. As expected, there was a split in support/opposition of the proposed delay.... The DOL is confident it will be able to make a final decision on whether to delay the rule before the April 10 applicability date.... April 17 is the deadline to submit comment letters addressing both the questions raised in the President's Memorandum, as well as the litany of questions posed by the DOL in its proposed delay." (Stradley Ronon)
Bill to Help Small Business Retirement Plans Introduced in House, Senate
"Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to make it easier for small businesses to offer retirement plans -- or at least easier to file Form 5500. The bill directs the [DOL] and the Treasury Department to allow employers and sole-proprietors participating in retirement plans administered in the same way to file a single aggregated Form 5500." (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA])
Sparks Fly as DOL Nominee, Sen. Warren Spar Over Fiduciary Rule's Fate
"President Trump's nominee to head the [DOL] is pledging a thorough review of the fiduciary rule that could lead to a repeal or revision of the controversial regulation. At his confirmation hearing on [March 22], Alexander Acosta sparred with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over the rule's fate, but insisted that, if confirmed, he would abide by Trump's directive that explicitly calls for a review of the fiduciary regulation." (Financial Planning)
Interesting Angles on the DOL's Fiduciary Rule, Part 41
"[T]he delay of the new fiduciary rule does not mean that we are 'rule-less.' Instead, the 'old' rule, and exemptions, which have been place for decades, will continue to apply. Does that mean that we are back in the 'good old days' where we won't need to pay attention to the application of the fiduciary rule to IRAs? ... Over the past few years, a tremendous amount of attention has been paid to the meaning and consequences of being a fiduciary ... And, with this newfound attention, it is possible that many common practices will, when closely examined, result in fiduciary status under the old rule." (FredReish.com)
IRS Plans to Begin Issuing 'Sub-Regulatory' Guidance Again
"The [IRS] is continuing to have productive conversations with the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. And 'as we've been having discussions, we have made clear -- and people have agreed -- that a lot of the sub-regulatory guidance we issue is really for the benefit of the taxpayers,' he said March 21 ... 'I think we will begin to issue some greater guidance in those areas.' " (Bloomberg BNA)
Text of District Court Opinion Denying Request for Emergency Injunction Delaying DOL Fiduciary Rule (PDF)
"Compliance costs already incurred cannot constitute the irreparable harm Plaintiffs must show because the standard is inherently prospective. Plaintiffs do not argue that additional compliance costs between now and the applicability date would be substantial or prohibitively expensive." [U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. DOL, No. 16-1476 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 20, 2017)] (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas)
Tax Reform Could Be 'Way Worse' for Retirement Industry Than DOL Fiduciary Rule
"Some of the items that could be on the table are a freezing or reduction of 401(k) contribution limits, a sort of double taxation on the retirement savings of individuals in higher tax brackets, and elimination of 403(b) and 457 plans, [said Brian Graff, Executive Director of the National Association of Plan Advisors] ... Mr. Graff also said the fiduciary rule ... poses a large risk in its current iteration to brokerage and advisory firms because of its provision allowing a private right of action for investors. This exposure to class-action litigation ... [is] 'a game-changer from a business standpoint.' " (InvestmentNews)
ERISA Attorney Fee Awards: What Are 'Reasonable Hours' for a Plaintiff's Attorney to Spend on a Summary Judgment Motion?
"The Court reduced the hourly rates and approved the following rates: lead attorney -- $300; associate attorney $175; paralegal $90 per hour.... For the summary judgment motion and related pleadings alone, Plaintiff's attorney billed a total of 163.2 combined hours ... 'The Court finds that this is excessive in light of what other district courts have found reasonable for litigating a case through summary judgment.' ... The Court allowed only 85 hours for the lead attorney's time spent on the summary judgment, and excluded time spent by the associate and paralegal as duplicative. " [Standish v. Federal Express Corp. LTD Plan and Aetna Life Ins. Co., No. 15-6226 (W.D.N.Y. Mar. 6, 2017)] (Lane Powell PC)
Supreme Court to Consider Application of ERISA to Church-Affiliated Pension Plans
"The obvious problem with [the employers'] argument is the odd line it draws between plans that are exempt and those that are not exempt.... [W]hy would Congress insist that pure-church plans be both established and maintained by religious organizations while church-affiliated plans need only be maintained by religious organizations? ... [The employees] suggest that the 1980 amendments should be viewed as limited to relaxing the requirement that they address by providing that church-affiliated plans, like church plans, must be 'established' by the 'church' itself, but that they will retain their exempt status whether they are 'maintained' by the church itself or by the affiliate." [Advocate Health v. Stapleton, Nos. 16-74, 16-86, 16-258 (oral argument in consolidated cases sched. Mar. 27, 2017)] (SCOTUSblog)
[Opinion] ERISA: DOL Can't Have It Both Ways
"On the one hand, on April 6 last year, [the DOL] adopted the fiduciary rule subjecting any investment recommendations ... pertaining to retirement-related accounts to fiduciary standards like those of [ERISA]. On the other hand, the department provided a safe harbor from coverage under ERISA to state- and city-sponsored automated payroll-deduction individual retirement accounts for private-sector employees ... which would reduce protections for participants in these plans.... The Labor Department's inconsistent approach is unacceptable." (Pensions & Investments)
House Democrats Denounce DOL Rule Delay as Comment Period Closes
"[A] letter from 40 House Democrats [to the DOL] said that the Trump administration DOL was trying to undo in a matter of weeks a measure that had been carefully constructed over the course of more than six years by the preceding Obama administration. The lawmakers also characterized the stated reason for the delay -- to give the agency time to reassess the rule's impact and consider modifying or repealing it -- as 'specious' since the Obama DOL already vetted it." (InvestmentNews)
[Opinion] Economic Policy Institute Comment Letter to DOL Opposing Proposal to Extend the Applicability Date of the Fiduciary Rule
"[EPI is] writing to express our strong support for the scheduled April 10, 2017, applicability date of the [DOL's] fiduciary rule.... [R]etirement savers and other investors would be harmed by the delay, while the financial industry would benefit.... [T]he costs to savers of a delay far outweigh any benefits to the financial industry." (Economic Policy Institute [EPI])
[Opinion] ICI Comment Letter to DOL in Support of Proposed Delay of Fiduciary Rule (PDF)
25 pages. "[A]ny potential 'lost benefits' associated with the delay -- including the Department's highly speculative foregone gains to affected retirement investors -- are well justified by the avoidance of disruption to those investors that would be caused if the rule is not delayed." (Investment Company Institute [ICI])
Fiduciary Rule Friends and Foes Weigh in on Proposed Delay
"The [DOL]'s proposed 60-day delay of the fiduciary rule's implementation garnered 565 comments from people pushing for and against the delay.... Once those comments are reviewed, the DOL will submit a final delay rule to the Office of Management and Budget." (Pensions & Investments)
[Opinion] SPARK Institute Comment Letter to DOL Supporting Proposed Delay of Fiduciary Rule (PDF)
"[The SPARK Institute believes] that a delay is warranted ... [In] order to allow the Department to conduct a thorough review of the Investment Advice Regulation and to prevent potentially duplicative and unnecessary implementation costs, which will adversely affect plan participants, we encourage the Department to adopt a delay of longer than 60 days." (The SPARK Institute)
State Retirement Savings Initiatives Can Enhance Retirement Security for Private Sector Workers and Offset the Cost of Medicaid (PDF)
"The result of the analysis showed a positive correlation between increased retirement savings, sufficient to remove a percentage of currently vulnerable households from the poverty rolls by the time they retire, and a reduction in Medicaid spending. [A table] shows estimated savings in Medicaid payments by states and the District of Columbia for the first 10 years after a retirement savings program is introduced. Over that period, 15 states would save more than $100 million each, with total projected savings if available in all states approaching $5 billion in the first 10 years." (Segal Consulting)
2017 AARP Retirement Security National Survey of Employed Adults Ages 18-64
"8 in 10 (80%) support state level public private partnerships designed to help employees save their money for retirement ... Among those who currently do not have access to a workplace savings plan, Eighty-six percent (86%) say it is likely they would participate if their employer offered such a plan.... Seventy-one percent (71%) are somewhat, not too, or not at all confident they will have the means to be able to retire someday." (AARP)
[Opinion] Will Collapsing U.S. Pensions Fuel Next Crisis?
"The major hurdle in adopting an enhanced Social Security where assets are managed at arms length from the government is the lack of proper pension governance.... This is the dire predicament of the US pension industry where one measure after another keeps placing a Band-Aid over a metastasized tumor, extending and hoping the problem will go away." (Pension Pulse)
[Opinion] American Retirement Association Comment Letter to DOL on Proposed Delay of Fiduciary Rule (PDF)
"ARA recommends that the applicability date be delayed until January 1, 2018, and that transitional relief with regard to the Best Interest Contract Exemption [BICE] be extended until July 1, 2018. ARA further recommends that the Department take such actions as are necessary to ensure that the effective date of the delay precedes the existing applicability date to avoid the unnecessary expense and disruption that would be caused by uncertain and shifting compliance standards." (American Retirement Association [ARA])
[Opinion] Retirement Advisor Council Comment Letter to EBSA on Proposed Delay of Fiduciary Rule (PDF)
"We believe a 60-day delay is inadequate and we request [EBSA] consider delaying implementation by 266 days to the first business day following January 1, 2018. We also request that the Department consider extending the period for providing comments to August 8, 2017." (Retirement Advisor Council)
How Has the Shift to 401(k) Plans Affected Retirement Income?
"This analysis addresses how the transition from defined benefit to defined contribution plans affected retirement wealth and income during 1992-2010. The results show: [1] total retirement wealth from employer plans was roughly flat, and this wealth is now more skewed toward those with more education; [2] the income produced by each dollar of retirement wealth has declined, despite a tendency for workers to retire later; and [3] the amount of income relative to a worker's earnings has declined. The bottom line is that employer plans are providing less retirement income today than in the past." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
[Opinion] DOL Fiduciary Rule Already Is Delivering Benefits to Workers and Retirees: Delay Puts Those Benefits at Risk (PDF)
"Just as intended, the rule is eliminating the most harmful conflicts associated with commission-based advice without eliminating access to commission-based advice.... Despite dire predictions to the contrary, most firms are continuing to offer commission-based retirement investment advice.... Far from driving up investors' costs, the rule is already responsible for significant cost reductions." (Consumer Federation of America)
Comments Flood DOL on Fiduciary Rule Delay
"As of the close of business [on March 8], the DOL posted 285 comments on a request to delay the rule's April 10 applicability date by 60 days.... Comments are split fairly evenly between both sides of the fiduciary fence. Financial services firms, trade organizations and individual letter writers repeat many of the arguments made by both sides. Comments are being accepted [by the DOL] until March 17." [Editor's note: the count stands at 345 as of noon on March 10.] (InsuranceNewsNet.com)
No Political Divide on Retirement Security
"76% of Americans are concerned about their ability to achieve a secure retirement ... More than three-fourths of Americans (77%) say the disappearance of pensions has made it harder to achieve the American Dream, and 71% of respondents say pensions do more to help workers achieve a secure retirement as compared to 401(k) plans. Nearly two-thirds (65%) say pensions are safer than 401(k) plans." (PLANSPONSOR)
Removing the Legal Impediments to Offering Lifetime Annuities in Individual Account Plans (PDF)
112 pages. "This Article considers how changes in the laws and regulations governing pensions and annuities could help promote secure, lifetime income streams [from 401(k) and other defined contribution plans, called 'individual account plans' in ERISA]. More specifically, this Article explores how the laws governing annuities could be changed to make voluntary annuitization more attractive and how pension laws could be changed to incentivize plan sponsors to offer more lifetime income options and to encourage plan participants to select those options." (Prof. Jonathan Barry Forman, Univ. of Oklahoma College of Law, Via Connecticut Insurance Law Journal)
[Guidance Overview] BICE on Ice? Status of the DOL Fiduciary Rule (PDF)
"With recent developments in all three branches of government bearing on the authority and timing of the new [DOL] final rule expanding the definition of fiduciary 'investment advice' for purposes of [ERISA], the already formidable challenges for plan sponsors and retirement product and service providers have been made more difficult.... While DOL almost certainly had authority to adopt a 60-day delay without notice and comment rulemaking under the 'good cause' provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, the process it has chosen ensures that all stakeholders will have an opportunity to be heard at each stage of its examination of the Final Rule." (Eversheds Sutherland)
[Opinion] Congress Should Block States from Taking Over the Private-Worker Pension Business
"Advocates argue that the proposed new retirement systems will be less risky than current government-employee pensions, which are largely defined-benefit plans that guarantee workers a certain annual income upon retirement. But many of the most indebted state-worker pensions were also originally designed to be 'safe.' ... Over time, however, politicians changed the plan designs so that they could promise employees bigger retirement checks -- eroding the protections originally built into them. There's nothing preventing the same thing from happening with the new state-run retirement systems." (City Journal)
[Opinion] 40th Anniversary of ERISA: What Is the Context? (PDF)
"Many individuals, employers, businesses and institutions have forcefully challenged any number of changes in ERISA throughout its history.... Some assert government should not place additional restrictions on employers' plans.... But, if the employer wants any of the truly one-of-a-kind tax benefits for itself and its employees, then there are rules that are intended to advance policies that are laudable." (The ERISA Law Group)
California State Payroll Retirement Savings Plan Would Survive Withdrawal of DOL Regs
"A Secure Choice attorney ... told the board last week that the [DOL] regulation specifically says employees with no workplace retirement plan can be automatically enrolled in a state-mandated program that allows employees to opt out. But the regulation also says it's only the view of the Labor Department, not the only way to create an exemption, and the final determination of whether a program is exempt from federal pension law will be made by the courts.... [If] the regulation is repealed Secure Choice could return to the original plan to use the exemption provisions in the 1974 federal pension law, with some Labor guidance issued later." (Calpensions)
[Opinion] State IRA Plans Are Ready, If Congress Doesn't Interfere
"One could plausibly argue that these savings plans should be national in scope, and not relegated to the states. If that is the reasoning, the Senate would be better advised to enact legislation enabling a national automatic IRA program.... If it votes to override the rule using the strategy made possible by the Congressional Review Act, the state plans will be blocked and the Labor Department will be forbidden from considering new versions. Legislators can help Americans save for retirement by simply doing nothing." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)
Secure Choice Retirement Plans: What You Need to Know
"In mid-February, the House of Representatives voted mostly along party lines to repeal the Obama-era rules that said Secure Choice plans did not trigger ERISA regulations.... What would it mean if Congress repeals these rules? Its main effect may be to slow the momentum of states adopting these Secure Choice programs." (National Public Pension Coalition)
[Opinion] States Can Help Private Employees Without Depriving Them of the Protections of ERISA
"States falsely argue that they cannot provide benefit plans without an exemption from ERISA.... Washington and New Jersey have enacted Marketplace Retirement Savings programs. While different in details, the premise is that the state would work with employers to establish a program that connects eligible employers with qualifying plans.... Massachusetts has adopted another approach -- a prototype plan for nonprofit organizations with less than 20 employees. In this approach, participation by the organizations is voluntary." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
Half of Workers Would Save for Retirement If Payroll Deduction Were Available
"61 percent of U.S. workers without an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan would be more likely to save for retirement if they had access to one.... [T]hree quarters of workers want to save for retirement through their employer. In fact, 53 percent of workers feel that employers should be required to offer savings plans. Sixty percent of workers actually take it a step further and feel employers should contribute to the retirement savings accounts of their employees." (LIMRA)
Proposed Pension Accountability Act Would Protect Retirees in Troubled Multiemployer Pension Plans
"[F]or struggling pension plans seeking cuts, [the Act] will make the participant vote binding in all situations. This will give the workers and retirees a seat at the table to influence the solvency reforms. Their majority vote will be required for any pension cuts to occur.... [The Act] will make this vote fair by counting only the ballots that are returned. Unreturned ballots will no longer be counted as a 'yes' vote." (Senator Rob Portman [R-OH])
Retirement Plans Under ERISA: A 40-Plus Year Retrospective (PDF)
"Certainly, ERISA imposed significantly greater requirements on employers that sponsored any qualified retirement plan, particularly defined benefit plans.... In retrospect, we should have recognized that placing all of the risk on only one party is not sustainable.... The advent of requiring assumptions based on current conditions rather than long-term expectations introduced a counter-cyclical element in pension funding.... [C]hanges have been reactive rather than proactive. Congress responds to the current crisis rather than developing a long-term plan of attack." [Includes a descriptive historical list of legislation amending ERISA's qualified plan provisions.] (Bryan, Pendleton, Swats and McAllister, LLC)
California Mapping New Path for Secure Choice
"Members of the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Board said existing provisions of [ERISA] could make retirement accounts exempt from the act if Congress passes H.J. Res. 66. The measure would repeal [DOL] regulations that explicitly exempted Secure Choice and similar programs in other states from ERISA.... Board members said they would be on solid ground if they rely on a safe harbor dating to 1975 that exempts employers from ERISA's fiduciary requirements if they provide an individual retirement account to employees." (Bloomberg BNA)
[Guidance Overview] DOL Proposes 60-Day Extension in Fiduciary Rule Applicability
"The proposal notes that, absent an extension in the applicability date, if the examination prompts the Department to propose rescinding or revising the rule, affected advisers, retirement investors and other stakeholders might face two major changes in the regulatory environment rather than one. 'This proposed 60-day extension of the applicability date aims to guard against this risk,' the Labor Department noted[.]" (Nevin Adams, for National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA])
[Opinion] America's Crumbling Pension Future?
"[T]he biggest problem with all these multiemployer pension plans is they never had proper governance, were raked on fees by Wall Street, and were poorly managed for decades.... And now that the chickens have come home to roost ... retirees seeing their pension benefits being slashed by half or more are rightfully asking for the government to help them." (Pension Pulse)
Defined Benefit Pensions and Racial Equity in Retirement
"Black households earn significantly less income than white households. This inequality in income leads to inequality in overall household wealth, which includes retirement wealth. However, an often overlooked bright spot is that many black households still have access to traditional defined benefit pensions." (National Public Pension Coalition)
Trump Administration Hits Hurdle in Fiduciary Fight
"While a new OMB determination seemingly makes it more burdensome for the Trump administration to unravel the DOL fiduciary rulemaking, there is some disagreement as to what this will actually mean." (PLANSPONSOR)
Helping Small Business Owners Start Retirement Plans
"During America Saves Week, [DOL wants] to help small business owners set up retirement plans -- for your own future financial security as well as that of your employees. It's easier than you think to get started. It just takes a few simple steps: [1] Explore your options ... [2] Assess your needs ... [3] Choose a plan and start saving." (U.S. Department of Labor [DOL] Blog)
2017 Public Policy Priorities to Advance Retirement Security
"[This] Blueprint identifies policy proposals that expand access to workplace retirement plans, increase lifetime income options to help Americans ensure their savings will not be outlived, protect access to professional financial advice, improve access to the education American savers need to make better-informed decisions regarding their finances, and preserve the current tax treatment and structures for Americans' retirement plans[.]" (Insured Retirement Institute [IRI])
Retirement Policy Directions in 2017 and Beyond (PDF)
"With a new Congress and a new president in Washington, how are U.S. retirement policies likely to change? Possibly quite radically, and for two main reasons... [1] [B]ecause of the new majority's plans to overhaul the entire U.S. tax structure and federal budget ... [2] [B]ecause of the drive to simplify and lower income tax rates[.] ... As one of the top sources of 'revenue foregone' by the federal government, ending or reducing current tax breaks for employment-based retirement plans (particularly 401(k)s) would free up revenue for other things the new Congress and president want to do." (Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI])
A Tale of Two Countries: DC Plans in the U.K. and U.S.
"While the shift from DB to DC plans got off to a later start in the U.K., the changeover was faster. Both the U.S. and U.K. seem headed for a common approach: automatic enrollment into a matching contribution structure with a default life-cycle investment fund. 28% of plan participants in the U.S. and 21% in the U.K. expect to work until 70 or even later." (Willis Towers Watson)
[Opinion] Retirement is an Artificial Finish Line
"Women and men are discovering that retirement is not a natural life transition. It's an idea that's been inflicted upon us by corporations and society. We've been indoctrinated into thinking that when you turn 65, it's time to punch out and live a life of leisure. This may have worked for the previous generation, but that mindset is no longer sustainable. Pensions and institutional stewardship have gone the way of the dinosaur, and today more than ever we have to assume control over our own retirement planning." (Paladin Research & Registry)
[Opinion] The Retirement System Diaries, Chapter 1: The So-Called Retirement Crisis (PDF)
"There is a real retirement crisis in the United States, but there is also a fake one. This article attempts to bring some levity and perspective as to which pieces of the sky are, in fact, falling.... [By] 'crisis' we don't mean anything obvious like war, famine, or national penury. Instead, 'retirement crisis' has come to mean simply that people aren't saving as much as they should and won't be able to retire with enough money to maintain their late-career standard of living. Admittedly, no one ever says it that way, but that's what they mean. This is not a crisis." (Pete Swisher, Pentegra Retirement Services, via Journal of Pension Benefits)
[Opinion] American Benefits Council Comment Letter to Oregon State Treasury on Oregon Retirement Savings Plan
22 pages. "[T]he revised proposed rules would cause the [Oregon Retirement Savings Plan (ORSP)] to significantly disrupt existing Qualified Plans and their participants by effectively dictating the design of retirement plans that already meet the numerous and stringent requirements imposed by federal law. Although it has since been communicated that this was not the intent of the new language, this situation only highlights the importance of the Board examining how the ORSP could affect our current retirement system and avoiding any adverse effects on employers who currently sponsor a retirement plan. The only way to ensure that correct result is for the ORSP to permanently exempt all current plan sponsors from the Plan's requirements in accordance with Oregon's authorizing legislation." (American Benefits Council)
Kansas Court Again Upholds Fiduciary Rule as DOL Seeks to Delay Implementation
"Judge Crabtree's decision came as no surprise. Last November, he denied Market Synergy's motion for a preliminary injunction of the new PTE 84-24. Deciding the issue on the merits, the judge twice noted that the parties submitted no new evidence in the most recent briefing and therefore, found 'no reason to depart from the legal conclusions and reasoning' set forth in his earlier order." [Market Synergy Group v. DOL, No. 16-4083 (D. Kans. Feb. 17, 2017)] (Miller & Chevalier)
[Opinion] ERIC Comments on Oregon State Retirement Savings Plan
"Defining 'employee' with an age requirement of 18 years old is in direction contradiction of federal laws and regulations ... [E]mployers should be able to limit participation in an employer retirement plan to full-time employees ... and not have to separately enroll other groups of non-eligible employees into the State Retirement Plan.... A mandate to apply for a conditional exemption every three years, and the threat of the requirements changing to receive the exemption at any point in time, will only decrease the likelihood of employers offering a quality retirement plan[.]" (The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC])
[Opinion] ARA Comment Letter on Proposed Rules to Implement the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan (PDF)
"ARA recommends the final rules be clarified in accordance with the statements on the Oregon Saves website to specifically exempt any employer that offers a qualified plan whose waiting period and other eligibility provisions comply with federal law.... ARA recommends broadening the definition of a 'qualified plan' in the proposed rules to include payroll deduction IRA programs that are made available outside of the OregonSaves program." (American Retirement Association [ARA])
[Opinion] Congress Should Stay Out of States' Retiree Plans
"At no risk [to] taxpayers and employers, California's Secure Choice and similar programs in other states give workers a way from sinking into poverty after they retire and that -- in political terms -- is the very definition of a 'no-brainer.' ... Secure Choice includes robust oversight, accountability and fiduciary safeguards like those anything contained in ERISA, and exceed those for ordinary IRAs." (Detroit Free Press)

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