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[Guidance Overview]

DOL Fiduciary Rule: Slowed Down, But Not Out
"Firms that intend to rely on PTE 86-128 for discretionary transactions will need to make sure that IRAs receive the disclosures that were previously required only for [ERISA] plans as of June 9. Further, if a firm was relying on PTE 86-128 to cover compensation that will no longer be covered on June 9, the firm will need to consider whether another exemption is available (e.g., the BIC Exemption for nondiscretionary advice) or whether its compensation arrangements otherwise need to be restructured."
Morgan Lewis


Who's The Employer by S. Derrin Watson, JD, APM

Sponsored by Burrmont Compliance Labs LLC

S. Derrin Watson, JD, APM, is the newest member of our distinguished team of authors. Exclusively on ERISApedia: the 7th Edition of Who's the Employer - Robust Search, Timely updates, Over 1,000 examples, Gov't Source Links. E-mail:

Text of District Court Opinion Finding PBGC's Rejection of Revised QDRO to Be Arbitrary and Capricious (PDF)
"[T]he PBGC does not consider 'actuarial value' when assessing whether a new form of benefit will result in increased payments relative to a prior one, as Congress instructed; rather, it ignores that factor altogether and simply assumes that the mere potential for increased benefits is enough to keep a domestic relations order from being qualified. Because that policy, and thus the Appeals Board decision, disregards a basis of comparison required by Congress, it is both arbitrary and capricious, and contrary to the agency's statutory mandate." [Dullea v. PBGC, No. 16-147 (D.D.C. Mar. 20, 2017)]
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

How to Create an Effective 401(k) Education Program
"Incentivize attendance.... Have a live presenter.... Cover basic investment concepts.... Explain the current investment menu choices.... Use interactive materials.... Use powerful visuals.... Ask participants to anonymously evaluate the presenter.... Sit in on a session.... Offer different sessions for different target groups.... Make individual consultations available after the session.... Develop an education policy statement.... Supplement education with investment advice."

Lump-Sum Windows: Administrative Tips to Consider (PDF)
"Plan sponsors should consider some helpful administrative tips before launching a lump-sum window project: [1] Identify the eligible population; [2] Clean up the data; [3] Seek legal counsel assistance; [4] Determine the duration of your window; [5] Set a manageable deadline; [6] Deliver an announcement mailing; [6] Anticipate participant inquiries; [7] Create the ultimate lump-sum window packet; [8] Prepare for special circumstances."

Bipartisan Bill Would Require Projected Retirement Income Disclosures
"The Lifetime Income Disclosure Act, S.868 ... would require 401(k) plan sponsors to inform participating workers of the projected monthly income they could expect at retirement based on their current account balance.... [The Act] is patterned on the Social Security Administration's annual statements ... By providing similar information for 401(k) plans, the Lifetime Income Disclosure Act would give American workers a more complete snapshot of their projected income in retirement."
Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)


The Advisor's Guide to the DOL Fiduciary Rule

Sponsored by The National Underwriter Company

Authored by ERISA experts at The Wagner Law Group, this Guide delivers a powerful combination of expert explanations and legal analysis along with vital Q&As that provide reliable, direct answers to vital questions before they arise. BENLINK for 10% discount.

DOL Not Backing Down From Fiduciary Rule
"It was thought by some analysts that the DOL would continue to delay the rule while it worked to dismantle some of the unpopular aspects. Instead, it seems the only positive result is more time to comply with the rules Those firms who do qualify as financial institutions under the BICE will be able to choose between PTE 84-24 and a transitional BICE -- when recommending all types of annuities -- until Jan. 1, 2018."

Charles Schwab Seeks to Arbitrate 401(k) Investment Case
"Charles Schwab Corp. urged a federal court to order a former employee challenging the investment options in the company's 401(k) plan to submit his claims to individual, non-class arbitration ... The plan documents required participants to submit any claims arising out of or related to the plan to binding arbitration in a non-class basis, Charles Schwab alleged ... Schwab ... may be one of the first financial companies facing an ERISA lawsuit over its use of in-house funds in which the claims move to arbitration."
Bloomberg BNA

Two More Union Plans File Applications for Benefit Reduction
"Bringing the total to fourteen. Alaska Ironworkers Pension Plan of Anchorage, AK and Local 805 Pension Fund of New York, NY just popped up on the MPRA website."

Evaluating Pension Reform Options with the Public Pension Simulator
"[The authors] used the Urban Institute's new Public Pension Simulator to estimate how potential reforms to Pennsylvania's teacher pension plan might affect employer costs and teacher benefits. [The] report looks at various reform options, including eliminating early retirement benefits, raising the normal retirement age, changing the benefit formula, and eliminating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) provided to retirees. The results show that eliminating the early retirement option would significantly reduce costs while safeguarding pensions received by teachers with shorter careers."
Urban Institute

Public Pensions Matter -- Just Ask Michigan and West Virginia
"In the 1990s, both West Virginia and Michigan closed public pension plans. West Virginia was first, closing its teacher pension plan in 1991.... In 1997, Michigan closed its traditional pension plan for state government employees. What happened next is a warning to other states or cities considering a similar course."
The Hill

The Pros and Cons of Taking Social Security Early
[By] taking Social Security at age 62, you're only receiving 75 percent of potential benefits. By taking out proceeds at age 70 (the oldest age you can claim Social Security benefits), you're increasing your maximum potential returns by 8 percent for every year you delay benefits ... There are a few scenarios where it does make sense to take Social Security at age 62, and health ... is definitely one of them."
U.S. News & World Report


America's Growing Retirement Angst?
"[M]ost Baby Boomers will be down to subsistence living by the time they are 80, living on Social Security and other government benefits, with help from any capable children ... Why, then, do so few people save anything for retirement? ... We all have many different needs competing for our attention. We have to prioritize, and long-term needs often get lower priority than whatever need is pressing in the here and now."
Pension Pulse


Fiduciary Rule: Vanguard's View on DOL Delay
"Vanguard agrees a delay will provide a helpful opportunity for the DOL to review the rule's scope and other issues that may limit investor access to investment advice ... Regardless of whether the DOL ultimately decides to modify the rule in any respect, [Vanguard is] concerned that this piecemeal implementation may increase the cost of compliance and reduce investor access to investment advice, information, and education."

Archive of News Items on the BenefitsLink Web Site Now Available in Optional Compact Format

Our Benefits in the News web page displays previously published news items as always, but now you can view them in a new, optional compact format -- you can hide the excerpts, at your option. Just look for the "Hide excerpts" checkbox. (The full list, which includes excerpts, continues to be the default view.)

Remember that you can limit the list to a particular type of news item (in either the compact or full format), such as Official Guidance. Other types are Guidance Overview, General, and Opinion. Just use the checkboxes at the top right corner of the list.

And you can narrow the list further to only show a particular type of news item that concerns a particular kind of plan. For example:

Benefits in General

How to Avoid Costly Beneficiary Designation Litigation: Helpful Hints for All Benefit Plans
"When there is a beneficiary dispute, the plan's written terms must be followed, to save the plan and its sponsor from costly litigation, avoid double liability, eliminate the need to examine and evaluate extrinsic documents to discern an employee's intent, and to make sure that benefits are paid quickly. Using the Supreme Court opinion as a guide, [a recent district court] opinion thus concluded that it does not matter if a participant 'substantially complies' with designation procedures. Instead, a designation will not be changed unless the plan's specific requirements are precisely followed." [Ruiz v. Publix Super Markets, Inc., No. 16-735 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 30, 2017)]
Foley & Lardner LLP

Total Wellness: Going Beyond Basic Wellness Programming
"[Employers] are beginning to think more broadly about wellness -- they're thinking about employee satisfaction and work/life balance more so than directly measurable ROI. Moving away from quantifying financial results to refocusing on the worker's own experience and needs opens the door to more sought-after programming. Instead of solely offering services to target healthcare claims, strategically mixing in other events can lead to higher levels of employee activation, productivity, retention, and job contentment."
Frenkel Benefits

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

Follow-Up on Litigation Over Non-Employee Director Stock Awards
"[T]he Delaware Chancery Court upheld the decision of Investors Bancorp directors' to award themselves restricted stock and stock options under a plan previously approved by the company's stockholders.... However, the Court indicated that it would not automatically waive through all non-employee director awards under shareholder approved equity compensation plans -- even plans with limits on awards to non-employee directors."
Winston & Strawn LLP

Wells Fargo Shows Its Claws
"Months after the revelations that Wells Fargo had engaged in highly questionable (some say illegal) practices, including creating fraudulent accounts, its board of directors has taken action to recoup some of the compensation from the bank's leaders during the time the nefarious schemes were ongoing."
HRE Daily

Press Releases

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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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