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August 8, 2013          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Client Service Representative
for Associated Pension Consultants in CA

Retirement Plan Specialist
for Sunrise Senior Living in VA

RFP Consultant
for Lincoln Financial Group in IN, PA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Impact of the New HIPAA HITECH Regulations -- Webcast
August 13, 2013 WEBCAST
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

2013 Webinar: Advanced HSAs
August 22, 2013 WEBCAST
(Ascensus)

The Dos and Don'ts of Full Replacement HSA Programs -- Webcast
August 28, 2013 WEBCAST
(Tango Health)

Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress
November 3, 2013 in NV
(Employer Healthcare Congress)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


  LinkedIn   Twitter   Facebook Hand-picked links to the web's best news articles,
official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.
[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Notice 2013-52: August 2013 Update for Weighted Average Interest Rates, Yield Curves, and Segment Rates (PDF)
"This notice provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve (and the corresponding spot segment rates), and the 24-month average segment rates ... In addition, this notice provides guidance as to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury securities ... as in effect for plan years beginning before 2008, the 30-year Treasury weighted average rate ... and the minimum present value segment rates ... as in effect for plan years beginning after 2007. These rates reflect certain changes implemented by ... MAP-21 [which] provides that for purposes of section 430(h)(2), the segment rates are limited by the applicable maximum percentage or the applicable minimum percentage based on the average of segment rates over a 25 year period." (Internal Revenue Service)  


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[Guidance Overview]

Restructuring a Cross-Tested Plan, Part I
"In order for a plan to test its component plans separately for nondiscrimination purposes, what requirements must the plan satisfy? ... If a plan is restructured into component plans, must the plan, as a whole, still satisfy the coverage requirements? Top heavy requirements? ... In restructuring a plan into component plans, do the regulations impose any restrictions on the criteria a plan may use in creating the components? ... May the employer change the employee groups from year to year? ... Must the plan have language to enable an employer to amend the plan into two components?" (SunGard Relius)  

How Much Monthly Income Will That 401(k) Get You?
"The Labor Department has been preparing a rule that would require employers to provide 401(k) participants with lifetime income illustrations that translate their account balances into future monthly checks. The concept has broad support from everyone from the Pension Rights Center, a pro-labor group, to the insurance industry. The issue is how to do that calculation, and how far to go with it." (Reuters)  

Seventh Circuit Allows Class Certification in Fiduciary Duty Case
"[T]his decision may be seen on a similar plane as the Tussey and Tibble decisions as a watershed moment for fiduciaries to understand their duties regarding the requirement to prudently select funds, even 'conservative' funds, such as [stable value funds]. Although the Abbott plaintiffs have yet to prove their case, the fact that the plaintiffs have come this far strongly suggests at least some viability to their claims." [Abbott v. Lockheed Martin Corp., No. 12-3736 (7th Cir. Aug. 7, 2013)] (Plan Tools, LLC)  

Text of Seventh Circuit Opinion Granting Class Certification in 401(k) Fiduciary Duty Case (PDF)
"In Spano v. Boeing Co. ... (7th Cir. 2011), we confronted for the first time the question whether an action for breach of fiduciary duty under [ERISA] may be maintained as a class action when a defined-contribution retirement savings plan is at issue. We concluded in Spano that the answer was 'maybe.' ... This case requires us to take the next step.... The class is more focused than those we rejected in Spano ... Plaintiffs have taken care to limit the class to those Plan participants who invested in the [stable value fund] during the class period." [Abbott v. Lockheed Martin Corp., No. 12-3736 (7th Cir. Aug. 7, 2013)] (Plan Tools, LLC)  


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How to Derisk and Keep Your Equities, Too
"[T]here's good news for sponsors who maintain a traditional 60% equity/40% aggregate bond portfolio -- or one close to it. They can take the first step toward derisking without changing their equity commitment, and they can do so starting immediately. That's because, in very basic terms, derisking strategies typically transition to an asset allocation as certain trigger levels are reached. This allocation more closely tracks the pension plan's liability, and has a lower liability tracking error." (Vanguard)  

The Real History of Public Pensions in Bankruptcy
"Detroit presents the only municipal bankruptcy case, outside of Central Falls, where the bankruptcy manager has directly gone after the pension liabilities from the beginning of the proceedings. Unlike Central Falls, Detroit's pensions are well-funded by national standards. It may also likely present state and federal legal issues if Detroit's pensions, enshrined in the state's constitution, are given haircuts." (Reuters MuniLand)  

Company-Sponsored Retirement Programs Requiring Ever-Greater Scrutiny by Board Members (PDF)
"Pensions are back on the boardroom agenda. A [recent] survey has highlighted two important areas of concern: minimizing the negative financial impact of such plans on the company, and ensuring that these plans are utilized as tools to improve workforce performance and productivity. Board members need to translate this worry into action plans to manage cost and risk as well as maximize value for their organizations." (Mercer, via Directors & Boards)  

Sequester May End Civil Service Pensions for Military Retirees
"Currently, the approximately 134,000 military retirees working for the Pentagon may forfeit their military retirement pay if they wish to apply their years of military service toward their civilian pension. Alternatively, they can keep their military retirement pay and start their service credit fresh when beginning their civilian careers. The new proposal would strip these options from military retirees, who would instead have to rely on their military retirement payments alone. The plan -- which, for now, remains very much in the hypothetical stage -- would save $100 billion over ten years[.]" (Government Executive)  

Given a Choice, Most DB Plan Participants Prefer Lump Sums Over Annuities (PDF)
"[O]nly about 1 in 4 workers (27.3 percent) covered by a defined benefit (DB) pension plan who were between ages 50-75, had a minimum job tenure of five years, a minimum account balance of $5,000, and who had no restrictions on their payout decision, chose an annuity (a lifetime income stream).... [T]he rate of annuitization varies directly with the degree to which plan rules restrict the ability to choose a partial or lump-sum distribution (LSD). In 2010, the annuitization rate for traditional DB plans with no restrictions on LSDs was 44.3 percent, while for cash balance plans with no restrictions on LSDs it was 22.3 percent." (Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI))  

Canadian and U.S. Investment Funds Face New Risk of Pension Liability
"[T]he same definition of 'trade or business' would apply for all purposes under Title IV of ERISA, and the PBGC will be able rely on the new decision in pursuing investment funds who have controlling interests (generally, at least an 80% ownership interest) in portfolio companies with underfunded defined benefit plans. We've seen PBGC aggressively pursue claims against non-U.S. entities. We are aware of situations in which the PBGC has appeared in Canadian proceedings to assert these claims." (Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP)  

Governance Considerations for Revenue Sharing (PDF)
"In the DOL's recent amicus brief ... in the Tussey v. ABB, Inc. case ... DOL said that ABB, Inc.'s failure to use revenue sharing to offset or reduce the costs of providing services to the plan as provided in the written investment policy statement was a failure of the fiduciary to follow the written terms of the plan. Such a failure is a breach of fiduciary duty unless those terms are inconsistent with the provisions of ERISA. This shows that even investment policies that are not part of the plan document itself need to be followed if they address how revenue sharing will be handled." (Buck Consultants)  

The Nonprofit Sector's Retirement Problems
"When you ask employees at nonprofit organizations about job satisfaction, more often than not they will give you a positive response ... When asked about their plans for retirement, however, nonprofit employees express insecurity and uncertainty about the future. In a coast-to-coast survey of 1,000 nonprofit employees ... three out of four employees surveyed do have a retirement plan, but are not sure if they're saving enough or saving wisely." (The Huffington Post)  

Growing Lifespans the Latest Worry for Canadian Pension Plans
"For the first time, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries commissioned studies based on Canadian lifespans, rather than relying on data from the United States. The studies found that life expectancies are on the rise: A 60-year-old man, for instance, is now projected to live another 27.3 years, up from 24.4 years.... Towers Watson ... says that while the impact will vary from one pension plan to another, acceptance of the new mortality tables could 'immediately increase pension accounting liabilities by 5 to 10 per cent for many plans, potentially impacting corporate income statements and balance sheets.'" (The Globe and Mail)  

FTSE350 Pension Plans: Still No Improvement in Deficits Despite Assets Reaching New Peak
"[T]he accounting deficit of defined benefit pension schemes for UK companies increased over the month of July.... [T]he estimated aggregate IAS19 deficit for the defined benefit schemes of FTSE350 companies stood at 85bn GBP (equivalent to a funding ratio of 87%) at 31 July 2013. This compares to a deficit figure of 82bn GBP at the end of June 2013 (funding ratio of 87%). Asset values increased by 15bn GBP over the month, from 542bn GBP at 30 June 2013 to 557bn GBP at 31 July 2013. However, liability values also increased by 18bn GBP over the month from 624bn GBP at 30 June 2013 to 642bn GBP at 31 July 2013." (Mercer)  

[Opinion]

We Are All Going to Pension Hell
"The rage of public sector unions is understandable. And this debate is going to be bitter, because unlike with regular firms, there's no clear point at which you can say, 'Yes, that's it, we all agree they're insolvent.' While a private firm cannot (thank God) simply take more money from their customers, in theory, governments can generally raise taxes and cut other spending to pay pensions.... [H]ow much should cities have to cut, once the tax base is exhausted? Senior centers? Parades? Maintenance at city parks? We'd better start asking those questions, because pretty soon, we're going to need to answer them." (Megan McArdle via Bloomberg)  

[Opinion]

The 'Plan to Avert the Pension Crisis' Article in the New York Times: NCPERS Responds (PDF)
"[T]here is no public pension crisis. The vast majority of pubic pension plans -- which, like all institutional investors, took a hit when the Great Recession collapsed the economy in 2008 -- have rebounded nicely and are more than adequately funded. The few plans in peril are in jurisdictions that chose not to make their required contributions during boom economic times." (National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS))  

[Opinion]

Milliman on Mortality: Hope to Die
"The Milliman report criticizing assumptions used by Detroit's erstwhile actuaries Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company (GRS), whose reports showed Detroit's plans to be among the healthier public plans in the nation, kicked off with a scathing indictment of mortality assumptions used by GRS which Milliman characterizes as too 'optimistic'. You tell a layman that mortality assumptions are 'optimistic' and the assumption would be that people are living longer but in the perverted world of public pension funding an optimistic assumption (and they're all optimistic) is one that lowers costs and having retirees die sooner is good news." (Burypensions)  

[Opinion]

Academic Study Inflames 401(k) Community
"Often times, for a plan sponsor to negotiate the best recordkeeping fee arrangement for plan participants (remember that those fees may be charged back to participants in an ERISA plan), the sponsor must agree to include some of the recordkeeper's proprietary funds in their investment menu. Done properly, the sponsor will have worked with experts internally or externally who have evaluated each of those funds to ensure to their satisfaction that the funds are appropriate for a participant-directed ERISA plan. Presumably, funds that either have poor track records, lack of manager stability, or other red flags that would cause them to be suspect will either not be chosen, or at least placed on a watch list." (Benefits and Compensation with John Lowell)  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by Russell Investments to DOL on Lifetime Income Illustration in Pension Benefit Statements (PDF)
"[E]ven though we believe there is value in showing income values based on the projected balance (especially for a younger investor whose total wealth today is primarily in the form of earnings potential rather than current financial wealth) some care is needed in how this is done. For this reason, we would suggest that the Department consider giving greater prominence to the assumptions." (Russell Investments)  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by Investment Company Institute to DOL on Lifetime Income Illustration in Pension Benefit Statements (PDF)
"We believe the rigid approach the Department is considering would replace the innovative methods already in use by retirement service providers and, if implemented, could mislead participants and would discourage the development and availability of other approaches that could be more effective." (Investment Company Institute (ICI))  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by DCIIA to DOL on Lifetime Income Illustration in Pension Benefit Statements (PDF)
"DCIIA is ... concerned that overly prescriptive regulations may inhibit what providers and sponsors do.... [W]e are not yet certain as an industry what approach or methodology to displaying/communicating account balances as income amounts is most effective in changing participant behavior (and it is worth noting that the industry has not defined what a successful change in participant behavior would look like, either)." (Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA))  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by Wharton School to DOL on Lifetime Income Illustration in Pension Benefit Statements (PDF)
"Well-crafted retirement benefit calculators can be a useful and convenient tool for participants seeking to determine roughly how much income they could generate from a given amount of retirement savings.... The DOL's calculator is a sensible first step on the path to building a more useful and more complete tool that could actually be used by employees deciding how much to save and what to draw down during retirement." (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania)  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by American Benefits Council to DOL on Lifetime Income Illustration in Pension Benefit Statements (PDF)
"Council members remain concerned about mandates rather than voluntary disclosures, and would instead recommend that the DOL encourage this disclosure by, for example, providing models and on-line resources such as the on-line calculator created by the DOL as part of this project.... By far the most important issue to our members is ensuring that the lifetime income annuity illustrations do not give rise to new liabilities that can interfere with companies' ability to participate effectively in the voluntary private retirement system." (American Benefits Council)  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by Committee of Annuity Insurers to DOL on Lifetime Income Illustration in Pension Benefit Statements (PDF)
"[T]here is no reason to believe that the annuitization approach presents any greater complexity or administrative burdens than do the other approaches currently in use. More importantly, while the other approaches undoubtedly can be useful to participants, only the annuitization approach reflects true lifetime income. Thus, we urge the Department to be skeptical of those who may suggest that mandating the annuitization approach will harm participants or is impossible to implement." (Committee of Annuity Insurers)  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by U.S. Chamber of Commerce to DOL on Lifetime Income Illustration in Pension Benefit Statements (PDF)
"The Chamber is concerned about mandating lifetime income illustrations on participant benefits statements.... [W]e believe that a mandate will not serve the purpose of providing greater education about lifetime income options and may, in fact, deter such efforts. Moreover, we recommend that the DOL encourage plan sponsors to provide information on lifetime income options by clarifying the rules surrounding investment education and electronic delivery." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)  

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by American Academy of Actuaries to DOL on Lifetime Income Illustration in Pension Benefit Statements (PDF)
"[T]he committee believes that it is not sufficient for the safe harbor assumption to consist of a single assumed rate of return that applies regardless of the portfolio allocations, investment time horizon, risk tolerance, or current economic conditions.... [W]e believe the inclusion of a draw down illustration would be useful .... The committee suggests that DOL consider allowing the use of the normal retirement age as a safe harbor, while permitting the use of other projection ages if the plan sponsor believes that a different age would be more relevant to the participants." (Pension Committee, American Academy of Actuaries)  

[Opinion]

ERIC Urges Flexibility on Lifetime Income Disclosures
"[W]ithout a mandate, companies and service providers have been actively developing tools to educate workers on the importance of saving and retirement readiness.... [I]mposing a mandate will only stifle creativity.... ERIC recommends that the DOL instead: (1) promote a voluntary system with flexible guidance based on broad principles that will encourage innovation; and (2) encourage the use of online modeling tools, which will allow workers to explore a variety of scenarios based on their individual situations." (The ERISA Industry Committee)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

2013 Say on Pay Voting Results as of August 5, 2013
"2,780 companies have held Say on Pay votes in 2013. 57 companies have failed with an average 60% 'Against' vote.... 71% of companies have received a greater than 90% 'For' vote." (Steven Hall & Partners)  

[Opinion]

What Its Proponents Get Wrong About the CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure
"Some observers are convinced that proxy disclosure of the ratio of CEO pay to that of the average worker will enhance investor understanding of companies' pay practices and philosophies. It won't.... [A] single number cannot reveal if CEO pay is excessive unless it's compared to some measure of the value created, and the Dodd-Frank pay ratio will not do that." (Towers Watson)  

Press Releases

US Labor Department Finds Violations of Federal Job-protected Leave, Back Wages for Worker at T.G.I. Fridays
Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor

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