Retirement Plans Newsletter

March 24, 2016

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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Plan Business Development Officer
Chemical Bank
in MI

Pension Plan Administrator
DeMars Pension Consulting Services, Inc.
in KS

ESOP Administrator
Verisight
in IA

Compliance Specialist II
Newport Group
in FL

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Webcasts and Conferences

OCR Launches HIPAA Phase 2 Audits: Are you Prepared?
April 5, 2016 WEBCAST
(Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP)

ACFC Exam Preparation Session 1: TPA Liability
April 6, 2016 WEBCAST
(ECFC [Employers Council on Flexible Compensation])

Washington Update and Helping Your Client Understand Their Fiduciary Duties
April 7, 2016 in TX
(ASPPA Benefits Council [ABC] of Central Texas)

Trends in Retirement Investing
April 20, 2016 in MO
(ASPPA Benefits Council [ABC] of Gateway St. Louis)

ACFC Exam Preparation Session 2: Best Practices
April 20, 2016 WEBCAST
(ECFC [Employers Council on Flexible Compensation])

Fiduciary Discussion with the DOL
April 21, 2016 in CT
(Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Hartford Chapter)

State-Sponsored Savings and Retirement Plans for Private Employers
April 21, 2016 in CA
(Western Pension & Benefits Council - Orange County Chapter)

50th Anniversary All Day Seminar
May 3, 2016 in KY
(ASPPA Benefits Council [ABC] of Greater Cincinnati)

Day At The Races: 2016 Employee Benefits Update
May 13, 2016 in IL
(JMM CPA)

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Chicago's Plan to Overhaul City Pensions Ruled Illegal
"The ruling in the Chicago case impairs Mayor Rahm Emanuel's efforts to pare a deficit that threatens the city's solvency. The defeat leaves officials racing to devise new ways to shore up retirement funds, though it will also save the city money in the short term because the overhaul required the city to boost contributions to its municipal and laborers retirement funds. The two cover about 60,000 workers and retirees." (Bloomberg)  


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Text of Illinois Supreme Court Opinion: Chicago Pension Reform Act Is Unconstitutional (PDF)
18 pages. "By offering a purported 'offsetting benefit' of actuarially sound funding and solvency in the Funds, the legislation merely offers participants in those funds what is already guaranteed to them -- payment of the pension benefits in place when they joined the fund. To put it simply, in 10 years, the members of the Funds will be no less entitle d to the benefits they were promised. Thus, the 'guaranty' that that benefits due will be paid is merely an offer to do something already constitutionally mandated by the pension protection clause. Since participants already enjoy that legal protection, we reject the notion that the promise of solvency can be 'netted' against the unconstitutional diminishment of benefits." [Jones v. Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, No. 119618 (Ill. Mar. 24, 2016)] (Supreme Court of the State of Illinois)  

DOL and SEC Opine on How Fiduciaries May React to Inside Information (PDF)
"On March 11, 2016, the [DOL] and [SEC] each filed amicus briefs ... to clarify the responsibilities of a fiduciary ... with control of an employee stock ownership plan, as a company stock fund investment option of a 401(k) plan. The DOL outlined potential corrective actions a fiduciary can take when there is an ongoing fraud (i.e., false or misleading public statements) that would be consistent with a fiduciary's duty of prudence under ERISA. The SEC's brief discussed whether these approaches would be consistent with the federal securities laws." [Whitley v. BP P.L.C., No. 10-cv-4214 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 30, 2015; on appeal to 5th Cir.)] (Groom Law Group)  

What to Avoid When Creating an Investment Policy Statement
"Think in terms of how you manage other job functions and use those as the model for your IPS procedures.... While your IPS shouldn't be so detailed that it's inflexible or requires you to constantly update it, it also shouldn't be so vague that is doesn't act as a good business plan.... Responsibility for various plan management responsibilities can and should be delegated to people or organizations with expertise you don't have in-house. However, they don't have to be named.... Extreme situations occur and you must have the ability to evaluate and take action as you think best. Having that authority specifically noted in your IPS is critical." (Fiduciary Plan Governance, LLC)  

Determining Reasonableness of Retirement Plan Fees
8 pages. "Start with a deliberative process ... Benchmarking tools and consultants can help ... Obtaining plan-specific comparisons ... Cost drivers within plan sponsor control." (Vanguard)  


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Fifth Third, Employees Settle Retirement Plan Suit
"The proposed settlement ... would set aside $6 million for the retirement fund members, although up to a third of that total could go to the plan members' lawyers.... The settlement comes nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided that the employees' suit could go forward. The ruling had the potential to impact hundreds of company-backed retirement plans." [Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, No. 12-751 (U.S. June 25, 2014)] (Cincinnati.com)  

Financial Advisors: Are Assets in Your Client's One-Participant Plans More Than $250,000?
"Most of the plan sponsors we contacted failed to file one or more Forms 5500-EZ. Many sponsors said their financial or investment advisor didn't tell them about the filing requirement. These sponsors are correcting using our late filer penalty relief program for Form 5500-EZ filers.... [Financial advisors:] It's very important that you alert your clients to review their end-of-year plan assets for all of their one-participant plans so they are current on their Form 5500-EZ filings. If you prepare or file the Forms 5500-EZ for your clients, ensure you have administrative procedures in place to remind you of the filing requirement when combined plan assets exceed $250,000." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])  

PBGC Finalizes Annual Reporting Rules
"The final rule keeps the $15 million underfunded threshold and allows for alternative methods of compliance, but requires the funding shortfall to be determined using non-stabilized rates.... PBGC added a waiver for plans with 500 participants or fewer, plus two new waivers for plans with liens of $1 million or more or with outstanding minimum funding waivers above $1 million." (Pensions & Investments)  

Five Things You Can Do with an IRA That You Can't with a 401(k)
"[1] Make a Qualified Charitable Distribution ... [2] Take a penalty-free distribution for higher education expenses ... [3] Take a distribution whenever you want ... [4] Aggregate RMDs between multiple accounts ... [5] Avoid withholding." (Slott Report)  

Nearly One Out of Five U.S. Seniors Hit by Financial Swindles (PDF)
"Almost one of five Americans over the age of 65 -- 17 percent or nearly seven million seniors -- have 'been taken advantage of financially in terms of an inappropriate investment, unreasonably high fees for financial services, or outright fraud' ... Efforts to involve doctors in spotting and reporting signs of financial exploitation of the elderly appear to be working.... Concerted efforts to educate elderly investors about investment schemes may be gaining traction." (Investor Protection Trust)  

[Opinion]

Actuaries Welcome Discussion of Meaningful Disclosures for Public Employee Pension Plans
"Following the re-introduction of the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act (PEPTA) on March 21 in the U.S. House of Representatives, the American Academy of Actuaries ... welcomes a discussion of meaningful disclosures for public employee pension plans. The Academy hopes that the bill, sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., 'to provide for reporting and disclosure by State and local public employee retirement pension plans' will lead to a discussion that raises the awareness of public sector plan issues in the United States, including where information is currently provided, what current disclosures mean, and what other information would be useful to the public." (American Academy of Actuaries)  

[Opinion]

Why Probability Software Is Unreliable for Retirement Planning
"[U]sers are led to believe they should make important life decisions with the aid of these apps, even though the underlying probabilities are based on inherently unpredictable outcomes. In truth, applying probability software to retirement-planning analysis is folly. Even the most sophisticated retirement-planning software used by financial professionals is a far cry from a crystal ball." (J.R. Robinson, via Nasdaq)  

[Opinion]

Puerto Rico, Pensions, and Vulture Hedge Funds
"Cutting pensions for Puerto Rico's retirees in order to pay Wall Street hedge funds should not be on the table. The Puerto Rico Government Employees' Retirement System has over 125,000 active members, who contribute 10 percent of every paycheck toward their pension. There are 107,848 retirees who are receiving benefits. The average annual pension benefit in Puerto Rico is an extremely modest $12,708 -- significantly lower than most pension benefits on the mainland U.S. The pensions of these retirees should not be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the vulture hedge funds." (National Public Pension Coalition)  

Benefits in General

Benefits Litigation Update, Spring 2016 (PDF)
9 pages. Articles include: [1] The oddity of an evenly divided Supreme Court; [2] Bell v. Anthem: Fee litigation and fiduciary responsibility; [3] EEOC v. Flambeau: ADA benefit plan safe harbor trumps EEOC wellness program voluntariness attack; [4] ADA investigations: Do your benefit websites make you a disability discrimination litigation target? [5] Supreme Court narrows plans' subrogation remedies; [6] Gallo v. Moen Inc.: Progress in repudiating Yard-Man; [7] Marin v. Dave & Buster's: ERISA class action exposure from reducing employees' hours; and [8] Group health plan's residential treatment exclusion violates Mental Health Parity Act. (Epstein Becker Green & The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC])  

The Fundamentals of Benefits Management Tech, Part 2
"Technology doesn't add value if it's too difficult to operate. Poor user experiences can discourage engagement, create confusion and result in costly errors. Look for a vendor whose technology, while powerful, is designed with the end user in mind, providing an intuitive environment for employees (and administrators) to complete benefits-related tasks." (Benefitfocus)  

Press Releases

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher <davebaker@benefitslink.com>
Holly Horton, Business Manager <hollyhorton@benefitslink.com>

BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2016 BenefitsLink.com, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of BenefitsLink.com, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

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