Retirement Plans Newsletter

March 3, 2017

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[Guidance Overview]

DOL Proposes 60-Day Delay to Fiduciary Rule (PDF)
"DOL suggested that its existing data, derived from the regulatory impact analysis issued alongside the Fiduciary Rule, leads to the conclusion that the harm to investors arising out of the Proposed Delay would outweigh any benefit. However, DOL stated its data is 'uncertain and incomplete' and solicited comments on the costs and benefits of the Proposed Delay."
Groom Law Group

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[Guidance Overview]

DOL Seeks Comment on Proposed Delay of Fiduciary Rule
"[T]his is a tight timeframe.... To finalize the applicability date delay, the government will have 24 days to review the comments, incorporate the comments into the final rule filing, and publish that rule in the Federal Register.... [T]he political will exists to delay the effectiveness of the fiduciary rule and eventually to revise or rescind it. But while the filing is another step closer to a delay of the applicability date, the calendar for effecting that delay remains unforgiving."
Greensfelder

[Guidance Overview]

Are You Keeping the Right Documentation for 401(k) Hardship Distributions?
"[In a Feb. 23, 2017 IRS memorandum, Employee Plans (EP) Examinations employees] are directed to obtain 'source documents' such as 'estimates, contracts, bills and statements from third parties.' Second, EP employees are directed to obtain a summary of the information contained in the source documents. The summary should include certain notifications made to the employee before the hardship[.]"
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

SEC Chief Rips Into DOL Fiduciary Rule
" 'For me that rule was never ever about investor protection,' Chairman Michael Piwowar says. 'To me, that rule, it was about one thing and it was about enabling trial lawyers to increase profits.' ... Piwowar says now is the time to rethink the entire debate around a fiduciary standard because of favorable circumstances, including the freeze he put on writing new Dodd-Frank rules at the commission and the administration's push to slow or block the [DOL's] fiduciary rule."
Financial Planning

401(k) Safe Harbor Hardship Distributions: Best Practices and Checklist
"[1] Are you providing proper notice to your employees taking 401(k) safe-harbor hardship distributions? ... [2] Are you keeping proper documentation related to all hardship requests? ... [3] Are your employees taking 401(k) safe-harbor hardship distributions that constitute deemed hardships?"
Butterfield Schechter LLP

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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]

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

Thinking Beyond Retirement: Your Plan as a Destination
"[F]or sponsors looking to help employees save and spend retirement wealth within the plan, here are five plan design options for you to consider: [1] Remove age restrictions.... [2] Consider greater withdrawal flexibility.... [3] Allow for incoming rollovers.... [4] Offer investment options for retirees.... [5] Offer retirement advice and education."
Vanguard

Indiana House Advances Bill for Offering 401(k)-Style Plan to New Teachers
"Under [the proposed] plan, teachers new to the system could choose the traditional hybrid plan or the 401(k)-style account. A teacher's employer would be required to contribute an amount equal to 3 percent of the teacher's salary to the new defined-contribution plan, and teachers could contribute up to 10 percent of their salary. The bill would also allow teachers to change their minds after three years and use the pension-style plan going forward."
Indianapolis Business Journal

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

Benefits in General

District Court Finds Insurer's Failure to Establish 'Special Circumstances' for Extension of Time to Decide LTD Appeal Warrants De Novo Review
"[A] District Court judge held that the LTD insurer had failed to establish special circumstances warranting an extension of the time frame for deciding the claimant's appeal during the administrative review process. The Court determined that this constituted a violation of the claims processing regulations under ERISA, thereby warranting a de novo review of the insurer's decision rather than the arbitrary and capricious standard of review that otherwise would apply." [Salisbury v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, No. 15-9799 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2017)
Robinson & Cole LLP

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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2017 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 those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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