Retirement Plans Newsletter

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Employee Benefits Jobs

401k Service Administrator
Retirement Direct
in NC

Retirement Plan Analyst
Retirement Plan Solutions, Inc.
in NC, Telecommute

Fiduciary Advisor
PNC Bank
in PA

401k Account Manager
LT Trust
in CO

Retirement Plan Administrator
McCloud & Associates, Inc.
in MO

Administrative Consultant for Qualified Retirement
PenSys, Inc.
in CA, CO, NC

Pension Plan Administrator
National TPA
in AZ, CA, CO, GA, IL, NC, OH, TX

Executive Director
Connecticut Coalition of Taft-Hartley Health Funds, Inc
in CT

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Webcasts and Conferences

Structuring Cash Balance Pension Plans: Maximizing Tax Benefits and Limiting Risks

DC-1 Exam Review: Tips and Traps
ASPPA [American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries]

Substance Abuse and Its Impact to Benefit Plans
June 21, 2017 in GA
ISCEBS - Georgia Chapter

Form 5500 Workshop
August 14, 2017 in NY
FIS Relius Education

ERISA Workshop
August 15, 2017 in NY
FIS Relius Education

36th Annual ISCEBS Employee Benefits Symposium
September 17, 2017 in CO
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

View All Webcasts and Conferences

Post Your Event


New Topics on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

New Comments and Topics

All Topics, Grouped by Forum

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[Official Guidance]

SEC Invites Comments from Retail Investors and Others on Standards of Conduct for Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealers
"Significant developments in the marketplace since the Commission last solicited information from the public in 2013 include financial innovations, changes to investment adviser and broker-dealer business models, and regulatory developments -- including the issuance and pending applicability of the [DOL's] Fiduciary Rule.... [P]ublic views on the following questions, as well as other information the public believes to be relevant to these issues and the Commission's consideration of potential future action."
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC]


50th Anniversary Sale

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DATAIR is having a 50th Anniversary Sale and ALL software is offered at 50% off the license fee. Contact us today for more information: 888-328-2474 or

[Official Guidance]

Text of PBGC Disaster Relief 17-05 in Response to Severe Storms in Missouri
"This Disaster Relief Announcement provides relief relating to PBGC deadlines ... [to] any person responsible for meeting a PBGC deadline ... whose operations are directly affected by the Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-Line Winds and Flooding that began on April 28, 2017, in Missouri.... The disaster area consists of Bollinger, Butler, Carter, Douglas, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Howell, Jasper, Jefferson, Madison, Maries, McDonald, Newton, Oregon, Osage, Ozark, Pemiscot, Phelps, Pulaski, Reynolds, Ripley, Shannon, St. Louis, Stone, Taney, and Texas Counties."
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC]

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Issues Fiduciary Rule FAQs as SEC Re-Enters Fiduciary Rule Debate
"[SEC] Chairman Jay Clayton wrote that the call for public comment was prompted by '[s]ignificant developments in the marketplace since the Commission last solicited information from the public in 2013 ... including the issuance and pending applicability of the [DOL]'s Fiduciary Rule,' and outlined 17 categories for commenters to address."
Drinker Biddle

[Guidance Overview]

Interesting Angles on the DOL's Fiduciary Rule, Part 50
"[T]he non-enforcement policy requires that financial institutions, such as broker-dealers and RIAs, make a 'diligent and good-faith' effort to comply with BICE. Since this additional requirement is imposed as a condition of BICE, it seems difficult to imagine that the non-enforcement policy would be available to a broker-dealer or RIA who did not adopt appropriate policies, procedures, practices and supervision. Then, the question is, what is 'appropriate'? The quoted language provides several alternatives."

[Guidance Overview]

Proposed 457(f) Regs: Opportunities and Challenges (PDF)
37 presentation slides. "2016 regulations significantly expanded 457(f) plan sponsors' ability to do the following without immediate taxation to participants: permit elective deferrals, use noncompetition agreements, make larger severance payments than otherwise permitted under 409A. [This presentation] addresses those issues [as well as] rules and limitations of the short-term deferral exception, the interaction of the 2016 regulations with existing regulations under Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code, other types of arrangements potentially affected by the 2016 regulations (e.g., vacation pay, flexible allowance plans); [and] best practices."
McDermott Will & Emery


The WBC - Regulatory Rollercoaster: Are You Ready for the Ride?

Sponsored by ASPPA and WP&BC

The Western Benefits Conference is the only Annual, Multi-day, Comprehensive Employee Benefits Conference west of the Rockies. Highly interactive sessions, Thought leaders, Practical industry leading ideas, Networking, Valuable CE credits and more!

ESOP Loses 10th Circuit Appeal Against Trustee
"In rejecting an appeal brought by Pioneer Centres Holding Co.'s employee stock plan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on June 5 refused to adopt a burden-shifting framework in cases alleging fiduciary breach under [ERISA]. As a result, the court rejected the stock plan's claims against Alerus Financial, finding no evidence that any action by Alerus caused Land Rover to withhold its consent for the proposed stock deal, which caused the deal to fail." [Pioneer Centres Holding Co. Employee Stock Ownership Plan v. Alerus Financial, N.A., No. 15-1227 (10th Cir. June 5, 2017]
Bloomberg BNA

Supreme Court Interprets 'Church Plan' Exemption in Favor of Religious Charities
"The next chapter may turn upon challenges to whether a hospital is 'religious' enough to qualify for the exemption. Such arguments will invite inquiries into the steps that churches have taken to maintain the religious mission of their affiliated hospitals, buttressed by the protections of the First Amendment that prevent civil government from intruding upon religious rights of autonomy and self-governance or favoring one form of religious structure over another." [Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, No. 16-74 (U.S. June 3, 2017)]
Stradley Ronon

Supreme Court: 'Church Plans' Include Those Established by Church-Affiliated Organizations
"The Supreme Court decision averts what would have potentially been a cataclysmic result to many faith-based hospitals, nursing homes and schools that were counting on being exempt from having their retirement plans subject to the requirements of ERISA. However, some questions remain, because the court did not address the question of the scope of the definition of a 'church-affiliated organization' (or the technical term used in the statute), which could also have an impact on which organizations may operate an ERISA-exempt church plan.... Congress may still ultimately have the last word." [Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, No. 16-74 (U.S. June 3, 2017)]
McDonald Hopkins

Supreme Court Finds 'Church Plans' Need Not Be Established by Churches (PDF)
"The Supreme Court's decision unquestionably is a significant victory for religiously-affiliated non-profits and their pension plans. The Court resolved the threshold statutory interpretation question in their favor, holding that their plans can qualify as church plans exempt from ERISA's requirements. The Court's opinion, however, leaves several issues concerning the church plan definition unresolved." [Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, No. 16-74 (U.S. June 3, 2017)]
Groom Law Group


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How Longevity Risk is Shaping the Retirement Investment Landscape
13 pages. "A two-prong investing and funding framework is discussed in this paper, based on the recognition that the human lifespan in retirement can be best viewed as consisting of a definable normal period and an undefinable tail period. For the normal period, we can borrow from the available toolset in wealth management on accumulation and decumulation of wealth; for the tail period, we may consider deferred income annuity."
S&P Dow Jones Indices

Vanguard Sees 75% of DC Participants in Professionally Managed Options by 2021
"By year-end 2016, Vanguard said 46% of participants invested in a single target-date fund, 3% had a balanced fund and 4% invested solely in a managed account. Only 17% of participants were invested solely in one of these options in 2007.... 85% of new participants -- those entering a DC plan for the first time last year -- were solely invested in one of the professionally managed investment options."
Pensions & Investments

Defined Contribution Plan Participants' Activities, 2016 (PDF)
12 pages. "[DC] plan withdrawal activity in 2016 remained low and was similar to activity in prior years.... The vast majority of DC plan participants continued contributing to their plans in 2016.... Most DC plan participants stayed the course with their asset allocations as stock values generally rose throughout the year.... DC plan participants' loan activity was lower than a year earlier, though still elevated compared with eight years ago."
Investment Company Institute [ICI]

Human Resources Perspective: A Survey of Larger 401(k) Plans
"The study reveals the views of human resources and benefits professionals administering 401(k) plans with assets of $100 million to over $1 billion. It took place in late 2016 and is based on telephone and online surveys of a nationally representative sample of 269 executives."
T. Rowe Price

The Multiemployer Plan Financial Crisis: Effect on Single Employer Plans
"[It] seems likely that any ultimate solution (if there is one) will involve some sort of federal bailout. That bailout could possibly involve single employer plans in some way. For instance, Senator Sanders's KOPPA proposal would fund multiemployer plan benefits by: [1] transferring assets from the PBGC single employer program; and [2] capping contributions to defined contribution plans, to generate tax revenues to pay for direct federal Treasury funding."
October Three Consulting

Dynamic Retirement Spending with Small-But-Permanent Cuts
"[E]ngaging in a more rapid series of smaller -- but permanent -- spending cuts can be even more effective. For example, rather than cutting spending by 20% for 3 years after a market decline, if the retiree simply commits to trimming real spending by 3% (permanently) in any year that market returns are negative -- approximately the equivalent of forgoing an inflation adjustment during the down year, and a fairly trivial spending adjustment for most retirees -- the safe withdrawal rate rises by almost 0.5% (to more than 4.5%). With the large-but-temporary cut, the safe withdrawal rate only rises by 0.1%, instead."
Nerd's Eye View

Benefits in General

[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Disaster Relief MO-2017-01, for Victims of Severe Storms in Missouri
"Individuals who reside or have a business in the following counties: Bollinger, Butler, Carter, Douglas, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Howell, Jasper, Jefferson, Madison, Maries, McDonald, Newton, Oregon, Osage, Ozark, Pemiscot, Phelps, Pulaski, Reynolds, Ripley, Shannon, St. Louis, Stone, Taney, and Texas may qualify for tax relief.... [C]ertain deadlines falling on or after April 28, 2017, and before August 31, 2017, are granted additional time to file through August 31, 2017.... This relief also includes the filing of Form 5500 series returns, that were required to be filed on or after April 28, 2017, and before, August 31, 2017."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Final Rule Regarding Disability Claims and Appeals Now in Effect
"Plan sponsors should review health and welfare and pension plans to determine if they are subject to the final rule. Most plans will have already made this determination in response to the original regulations issued in 2000, but if the responsibility for making the disability determination has changed through the years, plan language [should] be reviewed and revised as necessary. Summary plan descriptions (SPDs) must be amended to add language implementing the new rules. In addition, a determination should be made as to whether document language and administrative practices remain in alignment."
Segal Consulting

Year-Round Engagement Breaks Barriers in Employee Benefits ROI
"To address the challenges of rising costs and the demands of a multi-generational workforce, employers and their brokers have been forced to deploy an increasingly diverse and often complex benefit strategy. In a world of 'connectedness' and employee self-service, these complex strategies often lead to more employee disengagement, undermining the success of the overall benefit program. There are three distinct underlying trends that are contributing to employee disengagement.... [1] Employee wants: convenience, simplicity and cost savings.... [2] Employer wants: productivity and benefit utilization.... [3] Mobile drives employee engagement."
Hodges-Mace, via Employee Benefit Adviser; free registration may be required

Federal Court Strikes Down PTIN Fees, Upholds PTINs
"According to the court, because the court in Loving found that Congress did not authorize a license requirement for tax return preparers, there are no longer any restrictions on who may obtain a PTIN. As a result, there is no 'special benefit' of being able to prepare tax returns for compensation (slip op. at 15). Therefore, PTINs are not a 'service or thing of value' and the IRS cannot charge a fee for issuing them. In a separate order accompanying the opinion, the court ordered the IRS to 'provide each class member with a full refund of all PTIN fees paid.' " [Steele v. U.S., No. 14-1523 (D.D.C. June 1, 2017)]
Journal of Accountancy

Discussions on
the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Retroactive Change in Plan Termination Date
"Is it possible to retroactively change a plan's termination date? For example, if a sponsor terminated a plan effective 8/31/16, could they now say that the Plan is terminated effective 12/31/16?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Vest Top Heavy Contributions Separately from Profit Sharing Contributions?
"I have a 401(k) plan that has a two year wait for employer profit sharing contributions, with immediate vesting for that contribution. The profit sharing provisions predated the implementation of a 401(k) program in the plan. There is, of course, a one year wait for 401(k) deferral contributions. The plan is currently top heavy, and the top heavy vesting schedule is 2/20. Can a plan run two different vesting schedules for different employer contributions? The profit sharing contribution is very generous, and the plan sponsor is adamant about keeping the two year wait to receive it, and intends to maintain full and immediate vesting on that contribution. However, the plan sponsor wants to prolong vesting of the first year top heavy contribution as long as possible and utilize the 2/20 vesting for that contribution."
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Final DOL Rule for Disability Claims as Applied to Top Hat Plans
"I am confident that nonqualified top hat plans will need to address the final rule, specifically when disability is a payment trigger, but is the rule applicable if disability only accelerates vesting and is not a payment trigger? What if the plan only contains disability respective to the cancellation of a deferral election?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Press Releases

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
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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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