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July 22, 2013          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise
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Sales Associate
for Retirement, LLC & Jennings Law Firm, Ltd. in IL

Experienced Retirement Plan Administrator / Consultant
for Small TPA firm in Westchester County NY in NY

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Webcasts and Conferences

Retirement Plan Audits (CPA) -- Webcast
August 22, 2013 WEBCAST
(American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA))

2013 Health Plan Compliance Benchmark Study
September 12, 2013 WEBCAST

Design, Drafting, and Enforcement of Compensation Clawback Policies -- Webcast
August 27, 2013 WEBCAST
(Winston & Strawn)

Form 5500 Reporting Update -- Webcast
September 27, 2013 WEBCAST
(Lorman Education Services)

Ahead of the Curve: The Latest Trends Impacting Defined Contribution Retirement Plans -- Webcast
July 23, 2013 WEBCAST
(Bloomberg BNA)

Preparing to Work with Health Insurance Exchanges in 2014 and Beyond -- Webcast
August 1, 2013 WEBCAST
(Tango Health)

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[Official Guidance]

Text of PBGC Proposed Regs on Premium Rates; Payment of Premiums; Reducing Regulatory Burden
"These amendments would be effective starting 2014.... PBGC proposes to simplify the due-date rules by providing that all annual premiums for plans of all sizes will be due on the same day in the premium payment year -- the historical variable-rate premium due date.... To preserve the self-correction incentive and reward for long-overdue premiums, PBGC proposes to reduce the 1-percent penalty cap from 100 percent to 50 percent. PBGC also proposes to codify in its regulations the penalty relief policy for payments made not more than seven days late that it established ... in September 2011 and to give itself more flexibility in exercising its authority to waive premium penalties. PBGC also proposes to amend its regulations to accord with [MAP-21] and to avoid retroactivity of PBGC's rule on plan liability for premiums in distress and involuntary terminations." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation)


ftwilliam.com, TAG Data, CCH and Aspen Publisher's Customer Conference

Sponsored by ftwilliam.com

Join us August 4-6 and learn from industry specialists! We'll cover hot topics including Coverage & Testing, TPA Workflow, Advanced Plan Design and much more! Make sure to drop in on our hands-on product training sessions with fellow TPAs.

[Official Guidance]

Text of SEC Semi-Annual Regulatory Agenda
"Information in the agenda was accurate on June 19, 2013, the day on which the Commission's staff completed compilation of the data. To the extent possible, rulemaking actions by the Commission since that date have been reflected in the agenda. The Commission invites questions and public comment on the agenda and on the individual agenda entries." (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)

[Guidance Overview]

Revenue Sharing Payments Retained by 401(k) Plan TPA Are Not Plan Assets But May Raise Other Issues
"Rather than subjecting revenue sharing payments to ERISA's plan asset rules -- which could raise a host of trust and other issues for plans and TPAs -- the DOL highlights ERISA's existing prohibited transaction and fiduciary rules, which require reasonableness in, and disclosure of, service provider compensation ... Plan fiduciaries should be mindful of revenue sharing not only when negotiating service agreements but also in their ongoing monitoring[.]" [DOL Advisory Opinion 2013-03A (July 3, 2013)] (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

Retirement Plan Participant Disclosures: Upcoming August 30 Deadline
Includes a chart showing required disclosures and the timing of their distribution to participants. Other articles include: IRS Updates Their Voluntary Correction Program for Retirement Plans; Most Common Errors in 401(k) Plans. Excerpt: "In 2012, retirement service providers scrambled to assist retirement plan sponsors to meet their obligations to provide the required participant disclosures. These disclosures should have been distributed to participants no later than August 30, 2012. The DOL regulations require that employers also distribute certain disclosures every 12 months. For most plans, participants should receive the annual disclosures again on or before August 30, 2013." (TRI-AD)

San Jose and Unions Gird for Court Battle Over Pensions
"San Jose's pension overhaul in San Jose was promoted by Democratic Mayor Chuck Reed and approved by nearly 70 percent of voters in 2012 but city unions argue the move violates the rights of its members and is in breach of the California state constitution. They want the court to block the measure from going into effect and to maintain the current pension plan." (Reuters)

San Jose Pension Reform Goes to Court
"San Jose's current budget already relies on $20 million from parts of the Measure B pension reforms. A city win could add $48 million in yearly savings. Workers, though, want to keep the city from grabbing even more of their paychecks to pay for their pensions. More broadly, the judge's ruling will affect similar debates over government pensions throughout the state and across the country." (San Jose Mercury News)

PBGC, DOL Band Together to Fight Alleged Fiduciary Abuse at Revstone
"While it is not unusual for officials at the Labor Department and the PBGC to collaborate when they suspect defined benefit assets are being misused, 'what is unique is the size and high-profile nature' of the companies involved, said a PBGC official who declined to be identified.... Revstone, with plants and offices throughout North America, has been under civil and criminal investigation by [EBSA] for alleged fraud and financial mismanagement at several subsidiaries since 2009 in what EBSA officials say is a pattern of 'reckless behavior' that has cost the pension funds $39 million." (Pensions & Investments)

Golden Years or Financial Fears? Decision Making After Attendance at Retirement Seminars
"This study examines the participants in 85 [retirement planning] seminars conducted by five companies in 2008 and 2009 to determine how much learning takes place and whether employees adjust retirement plans. Using surveys conducted before and after the seminars, we find that financial literacy and knowledge of retirement program parameters are significantly higher after the seminar. Employees with the largest increases in knowledge were most likely to change their planned retirement age and planned age of claiming Social Security benefits." (National Bureau of Economic Research)

Dodd-Frank, Where Are You?
"Many investment advisers have yet to feel any direct impact from the Dodd-Frank financial reform law three years after it was introduced.... As of July 15, the deadlines have passed for 279 of 398 required Dodd-Frank rules ... Regulators have missed the deadlines for 172 of those rules, while 107 have been finalized." (Investment News; free registration required)

Retirees Could Bear Brunt of Detroit Bankruptcy
"Although city retirement benefits are enshrined in Michigan's constitution, there is no clear road map for what will happen in a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, experts said. The question is made more complicated by the fact that it is unclear who has the legal authority to negotiate on behalf of the retirees.... 'The appointment of a retiree committee is adequate representation for these individuals and to facilitate the city's restructuring of its pension and other post-employment benefit liabilities,' [Kevyn Orr, Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager,] said ... Orr faced three separate lawsuits from current and retired workers trying to bar his attempts to file Chapter 9." (Reuters)

Detroit Funding Gap Reveals Industry Dispute on Pension Actuarial Calculations
"The problem has nothing to do with the usual padding and pay-to-play scandals that can plague pension funds. Rather, it is the possibility that a fundamental error has for decades been ingrained into actuarial standards of practice so that certain calculations are always done incorrectly. Over time, this mistake, if that is what it is, has worked its way into generally accepted accounting principles, been overlooked by outside auditors and even affected state and municipal credit ratings, although the ratings firms have lately been trying to correct for it." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Ingham County Judge Rules Detroit Bankruptcy Be Withdrawn; Attorney General Appeals
"Ruling the governor and Detroit's emergency manager violated the state constitution, an Ingham County Circuit judge ordered Friday that Detroit's federal bankruptcy filing be withdrawn. 'It's absolutely needed,' said Judge Rosemary Aquilina, observing she hopes Gov. Rick Snyder 'reads certain sections of the (Michigan) constitution and reconsiders his actions.' The judge said state law guards against retirement benefits being 'diminished' but there will be no such protection in federal bankruptcy court." (The Detroit News)

Mercer U.S. Pension Buyout Index, June 30, 2013
"As of June 30, 2013 the indicative buyout cost for retirees was 109.4% of the accounting liability. This compares to an estimated long-term economic cost of retaining the plan of 108.2% of the accounting liability.... The cost of annuitization relative to the economic cost of retaining the liabilities continues to be relatively small at approximately 1% as of June 2013, indicating that buyout premiums are currently attractive for sponsors when compared with all-in retention costs[.]" (Mercer)


Statement by AFSCME President on State Court's Ruling that Detroit Bankruptcy is Illegal
"There is too much at stake to play political games with the hard earned retirement security of Detroit's public workers. These retirees worked hard and played by the rules. The average general city employee pension is less than $18,000 per year[.]" (AFSCME)


How Detroit Came to Betray Its Retirees
"The number of retirees drawing benefits from the fund continues to increase, hastened by layoffs or workers retiring ahead of feared pension changes, so the number of workers paying into the fund continues to shrink. Meanwhile, the city's annual contribution to the funds keeps getting bigger. And because the city's revenues have fallen so dramatically, that means the city's growing pension contributions are consuming a greater and greater percentage of the city's cash -- or they would, if the city were even able to make the payments." (Detroit Free Press)


Will Detroit's Bankruptcy Lead to Stockton Deal?
"[W]ill the big national bond insurers, who lost the first round when Stockton was ruled eligible for bankruptcy in April, decide the main battle has shifted to Detroit and cut a deal with Stockton, where they have less exposure and a weaker hand? In Detroit, city officials propose cutting the pensions of current workers and retirees. A state judge quickly ruled after the bankruptcy filing that pensions are protected by the state constitution, triggering an appeal that may yield a precedent-setting ruling. In Stockton, city officials do not want to cut pensions, saying they are needed to recruit and retain workers, particularly police. Bond insurers facing major losses under the city's plan argue that pensions should be treated like ordinary debt." (CalPensions)


The Great State and Local Government Pension Scare
"[The Detroit Annual Required Contribution] is currently about 15 percent of payroll; in reality, state and local governments are making only about 80 percent of the required contributions, so there's a shortfall of 3 percent of payroll. Total state and local payroll, in turn, is about $70 billion per month, or $850 billion per year. So, nationwide, governments are underfunding their pensions by around 3 percent of $850 billion, or around $25 billion a year. A $25 billion shortfall in a $16 trillion economy. We're doomed!" (Paul Krugman in The New York Times)


Claim that 401(k)s Beat Defined Benefit Plans Stirs Controversy
"[EBRI] researchers found that the 401(k) benefits were better for almost every age and income cohort.... [T]he report includes only voluntary 401(k)s, ignoring the automatic enrollment variety -- even though the latter constitute more than half of all 401(k)s and are steadily gaining ground ... [T]he average contribution rate in auto-enrolled plans -- 6.6 percent of salary ... is lower than the average rate of 7.9 percent in the voluntary type. (The most common auto-default rate -- 3 percent -- is even worse.) Thus, in the real world, most employees actually have significantly less money in their 401(k)s than the samples in this survey[.]" (Institutional Investor)


France's Hollande in Tight Spot on Pension Reform
"President Francois Hollande may only manage a lightweight reform of France's indebted pension system, with trade unions preparing street protests and his own Socialist Party warning it would oppose painful measures. Fellow Europeans say France risks damaging its own standing and that of the euro zone among investors, and upsetting southern members struggling with harsh reforms, if it fails to address the deficit in its pension funding." (Reuters)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Transcript and Video from IRS: Forms 5500 and 5558 Filing Tips
"Here are five tips from the IRS office of Employee Plans to make filing Form 5500s and related returns, including extensions to file the Form 5500s, more efficient." (Internal Revenue Service)

Detroit Filing Sends Benefits Warning to Other Cities
"In recent decades, many municipalities have provided their workers with generous retirement benefits, both pensions and health coverage, often in lieu of pay increases. But this has created an unsustainable future burden for budgets that has only been exacerbated by the loss of real estate and other tax revenue in the financial crisis. In particular, cities like Chicago and Santa Fe, New Mexico, have worryingly high pension liabilities compared to revenue, investors and analysts say." (Reuters)

Crafting Made-To-Order Benefit Packages for Younger Employees
"To reach out to millennials, employers will have to transform traditional enrollment communications to something that speaks to a younger generation ... Benefit packages designed to meet the needs of the under-30 workforce should incorporate social networking and mobile technology and include offerings that acknowledge work-life balance[.]" (Human Resource Executive Online)

Orr Tells Detroit Retirees: Your Pensions, Benefits Are Safe for 6 Months Amid Bankruptcy
"[Detroit emergency manager Kevin] Orr provided retirees some temporary relief Friday, telling the Free Press that pension and health care benefits are safe for at least the next six months.... Orr has not yet specified the cuts to pensions he will seek through the bankruptcy process. He has proposed freezing pensions and moving workers to a 401(k)-style plan to help alleviate the pension systems' unfunded liabilities of $3.5 billion. He also wants to move retirees to Medicare or health care exchanges being set up through the Affordable Care Act." (Detroit Free Press)

Plaintiffs Achieve Another Victory in Litigation Over Executive Compensation Disclosures, This Time in Delaware Federal Court
"[T]he proxy statement included standard, albeit, imperfect language, regarding deductibility ... The suit alleged that the representations about the availability of tax deductions were materially false or misleading ... Qualcomm and the IRS entered into an Issue Resolution Agreement ('IRA'), pursuant to which the IRS concurred with Qualcomm that the 2011 LTIP approved by shareholders was compliant with Code Sec. 162(m).... The Court determined that the IRA did not 'formally bind the IRS.' Therefore the IRA did not 'definitively rule out nondeductibility and resultant harm to Qualcomm, particularly where [plaintiff] has pled reasons the IRA may be inaccurate.'" (Michael S. Melbinger, Winston & Strawn LLP)


Senate Finance Committee Mulls Executive Compensation Changes
"[H]ere are the proposals that the Finance Committee 'may wish to consider' as it moves forward ... Revise the limits on the deductibility of executive compensation... Modify or repeal Code Section 409A.... Repeal NQDC.... Repeal incentive (at the money) stock options.... Modify deductibility of stock options.... Revise golden parachute rules." (Benefits and Compensation with John Lowell)

Press Releases

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