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[Official Guidance]

Text of 2016 IRS Form 8955-SSA: Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits (PDF)
"This form is required to be filed under section 6057 of the Internal Revenue Code. Information about Form 8955-SSA and its instructions is [online]."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]


2017 SPARK National Conference -- June 1-2, National Harbor, MD

Sponsored by SPARK

The retirement services industry's leading event for top marketing, sales, administration and record keeping professionals. Comprehensive agenda is designed to meet the needs of 401(k) Plan Providers, Financial Advisors and Third Party Administrators.

[Official Guidance]

Text of 2016 IRS Form 5500-EZ: Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan (PDF)
"This form is required to be filed under section 6058(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. Certain foreign retirement plans are also required to file this form[.]"
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Guidance Overview]

Avoid Overpaying User Fees for Your VCP Submission
"The Employee Plans Voluntary Compliance function (VC) has noticed an increase in submissions with incorrect user fees. Many of these submissions include user fees higher than what is required.... Plan sponsors need to refer to Rev. Proc. 2017-4, Appendix A.08 to determine the appropriate VCP user fees for submissions made in 2017. As of February 1, 2016, we lowered the user fees for many types of 401(a) and 403(b) plan VCP submissions. Only use the 2016 version of Form 8951 (Rev. Sept. 2016), Compliance Fee for Application for Voluntary Correction Program (VCP), to determine specific user fee amounts; don't use the pre-2016 versions of this form as they contain inaccurate information."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Clarifies Permissible Substantiation Procedures for Hardship Withdrawals
"[B]efore relying on an employee's summary of the underlying documents, the plan must first [1] notify the requesting employee of various items of information, and then [2] obtain both general information concerning the participant and his or her request and more specific information concerning the event cited as justifying the hardship withdrawal.... Plans that have been relying on employee self-certifications should certainly do so. By providing the appropriate notice and obtaining the specified information, such self-certifications may be continued."
Spencer Fane

TPA Alpha: A New Approach to Evaluating TPAs
"Much like investment managers, there are TPAs that underperform the market and deliver negative Alpha; some that are level with the market and deliver no Alpha; and other quality TPA firms that outperform the market with regard to services and capabilities that can deliver positive Alpha. If a similar premise was utilized in selecting TPAs, then the firm that has the highest probability of delivering positive Alpha would be the most obvious and prudent choice. How can this evaluation be conducted?"
Jason Brown and Patrick Shelton, via


Things Have Changed Are You Up-To-Date?

Sponsored by ASPPA

Keep up to date on the latest rules and regulations with the ERISA Outline Book, THE resource for information on qualified plans. Choose from two great formats; hardcopy or online, including access to a fully searchable and cross-referenced website.

General Cable Foreign Bribery Deal Spawns ERISA Class Action
"The proposed class action claims that General Cable stock was artificially inflated for more than 13 years because of an undisclosed bribery scheme aimed at gaining business in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In 2016, General Cable agreed to pay more than $75 million in penalties to resolve investigations into the bribery scheme by the Department of Justice and the [SEC]. The new lawsuit seeks to hold General Cable and certain executives liable under [ERISA] for drops in the company's stock price that allegedly caused losses in employees' retirement accounts."
Bloomberg BNA

An Overview of Recent Litigation with Respect to In-House Funds
"There have been a number of recent lawsuits brought against financial services companies alleging prohibited ERISA 'self-dealing' with respect to the use of proprietary funds and services for plans they maintain for their own employees.... [T]hese cases also typically involve allegations of breaches of ERISA's loyalty and prudence standards ... [This article reviews] the issues presented by these cases for plan fiduciaries -- both fiduciaries of financial services company in-house plans and 'regular' plan fiduciaries."
October Three Consulting

Collective Investment Trusts: A Perfect Storm (PDF)
28 pages. "[M]ajor changes in the investment landscape -- including the cost savings of CITs, a decade plus of litigation against plan sponsors charging excessive fees, and most recently the [DOL] Fiduciary Rule requiring investments 'in the best interest of' plan participants -- are enabling CITs to eclipse mutual funds in the defined contributions market in the years ahead."
DST Systems, Inc.

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."

Urban Institute Provides Online Public Pension Simulator
"Covering 14 million state and local government employees, public pension plans typically provide lifetime retirement benefits that are based on years of service and the salary earned near the end of a career.... The public pension simulator shows how much state and local government retirees would receive in pension benefits, how much governments will pay for those benefits, and how costs and benefits would change under various pension reforms. Calculations depend on various user-set assumptions."
Urban Institute

Another Question is Answered in the Who's the Employer Q&A Column
"If the IRS just issued a determination letter to our client on a Cycle E submission ruling, stating that an affiliated service group does not exist, can we 'hang our hat on that' forever, provided the facts and circumstances never change?"
S. Derrin Watson, Esq. on BenefitsLink

Benefits in General

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

Press Releases

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Lois Baker, J.D., President
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
Holly Horton, Business Manager

BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2017, 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, 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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