Retirement Plans Newsletter

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Employee Benefits Jobs

Retirement Plan Services Compliance Specialist
Associated Bank
in WI

401(k) Administrator
Blue Ridge ESOP Associates
in VA, Telecommute

External Retirement Sales Consultant (salary + commission)
in VA

Senior Retirement Plan Administrator
Goldberg, Swedelson & Associates
in CA

Defined Contribution Compliance Analyst
in NY

Retirement Plan Administrator
American Pension Benefits
in PA

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Webcasts and Conferences

New Developments in Military Pension Division: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
August 17, 2017 WEBCAST
American Bar Association [ABA]

Benefit Plan Best Practices: Error Correction & EPCRS
August 22, 2017 in TN

Mastering Form 5500 Preparation and Avoiding Audit Triggers
August 30, 2017 WEBCAST
Clear Law Institute

Employer Impacts from Alternative Payment & Delivery Models
September 13, 2017 in TX
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Houston Chapter

HIPAA Business Associate Contracts: Due Diligence, Upstream Liability, and More
September 14, 2017 WEBCAST
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Ascend 2017 Education Conference
September 18, 2017 in LA

Flexible Spending Account: Legal Requirements
September 29, 2017 WEBCAST
Clear Law Institute

Retirement (In)Security Summit: State and Local Governments Tackle Retirement Preparedness and Workforce Challenges
October 2, 2017 in DC
Center for State and Local Government Excellence

Half-Day Benefits Symposium
October 11, 2017 in AZ
PSCA [Plan Sponsor Council of America]

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New Topics on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

New Comments and Topics

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[Official Guidance]

Text of PBGC Interest Rate Update for Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans, September 2017
"The September 2017 interest assumptions under the benefit payments regulation will be 1.00 percent for the period during which a benefit is in pay status and 4.00 percent during any years preceding the benefit's placement in pay status. In comparison with the interest assumptions in effect for August 2017, these assumptions represent an increase of 0.25 percent in the immediate rate and are otherwise unchanged."
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC]


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[Guidance Overview]

DOL Issues Additional Fiduciary Rule Transition FAQs
"[The FAQs] address: whether updates to service provider fee disclosures are required during the transition period in light of the new definition of an investment advice fiduciary; whether a recommendation to a plan participant or an IRA owner to increase his or her contributions constitutes fiduciary investment advice; and whether a recommendation to an employer or plan fiduciary regarding plan design changes that are intended to increase participation and contributions constitutes fiduciary investment advice."
Morgan Lewis

Fifth Circuit Oral Arguments May Provide New Hope for Fiduciary Rule Opponents (PDF)
"In questioning consistently skeptical of the DOL's arguments, [Judge Edith Jones] asked whether the DOL has the authority to redefine the term 'fiduciary' in a manner that is inconsistent with its common law meaning.... One of the Chamber of Commerce's challenges is that [BICE] conflicts with Supreme Court precedent stating that agencies cannot create causes of action. Judge Jones ... rejected a defense put forward by the DOL's attorney stating, 'You are deliberately creating fiduciary duties.' " [Chamber of Commerce v. Acosta, No. 17-10238 (5th Cir. oral argument July 31, 2017)]
Groom Law Group

Mitigate Qualified Domestic Relations Order Risk with Best Practices
"Major QDRO issues a plan administrator is sure to encounter include: [1] Information: What documents must be made available, to whom must they be given, and in what time frame? [2] Plan procedures: Are procedures necessary? If they are, what must they include? [3] Response disclosures and timeframes: What disclosures must be made and when? [4] Communication: What is the context and/or content when speaking with participants, alternate payees, or attorneys? Recognize that timing is everything."
Findley Davies | BPS&M

How Startups Are Edging Out Larger Players on Small-Business Retirement Plans
"Startups often have the edge over incumbents on fees, technology and customer experience.... While price is an important factor, tech companies also say they can offer a digital-first customer experience."


Things Have Changed Are You Up-To-Date?

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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.

Plan Sponsors See Struggles If Moving to Roth-Only Retirement Savings
"Forty percent of CIEBA members said it would be very or extremely difficult to explain the Rothification of 401(k) plans to participants."

More Than Half of Retirees Would Return to Work
"More older workers report having meaningful work and a fair amount of workplace flexibility compared with their prime-age counterparts, according to the American Working Conditions Survey (AWCS). Though existing research found that older workers want constructive work relationships, the AWCS found that older workers perceive that they have less support than younger workers do. More than half of retirees would return to work under the right conditions -- and a large number already have."
RAND Corporation

The Case for Custom Target Date Funds (PDF)
"Allowing plan fiduciaries to choose investments and a rebalancing strategy, custom TDFs offer a greater degree of control than traditional TDFs. As such, the [DOL] suggests that plan fiduciaries investigate custom TDFs as a potentially 'better' option for their plans.... The selection of a custom TDF does not, in itself, automatically satisfy a fiduciary's duty of prudence under ERISA. However, a custom TDF offers several specific advantages, which can enable the plan fiduciary to satisfy these ERISA obligations more effectively."
Ivins, Phillips & Barker for Columbia Threadneedle Investments


American Academy of Actuaries Comments to Congress on Incentives for Annuities (PDF)
"As part of the tax incentives for individuals to choose annuities, [the Committee has] two suggestions: [1] All money from qualified plans should be treated equally -- specifically, the tax incentive for annuities purchased from defined contribution plans and IRAs should be extended to also include defined benefit plans; and [2] The cap on the tax incentive should be the same for both qualified and nonqualified annuities."
Pension Committee, American Academy of Actuaries

Benefits in General

Insurance Agents as Employees? Court Breaks Independent Contractor Precedent
"[The federal district court] held that insurance agents working under independent contractor agreements with an insurer were employees for purposes of pursuing pension and other employment benefits under [ERISA] ... [The decision] ... is notable for its departure from industry practice and prior legal precedent treating many insurance agents as independent contractors. It also notable in that many of the factors the court found convincing are customary, sensible and expected business practices for an insurer ensuring that its agents meet minimum standards for services conducted under its brand." [Jammal v. American Family Insurance Group, No. 13-437 (N.D. Oh. Aug. 1, 2017)]
Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP, via Lexology

Seventh Circuit: Caterpillar Health Plan Can Limit Court Choice
"In upholding a forum selection clause in Caterpillar Inc.'s health plan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on August 10 became the second federal circuit court to say that these clauses -- which require litigation over plan benefits to be brought in the employer's preferred court -- don't violate [ERISA]. The Sixth Circuit reached the same conclusion in a 2014 decision[.]" [In re Mathias, No. 16-3808 (7th Cir. Aug. 10, 2017)]
Bloomberg BNA

Seventh Circuit Upholds ERISA Plan's Forum Selection Clause
"As the Seventh Circuit noted, ... only one other appellate court (the Sixth Circuit, covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) has ruled on this question ... Moreover, neither the Sixth Court's Smith decision nor this one were unanimous, and the DOL continues to challenge the validity of forum selection clauses.... As a result, employers in jurisdictions outside the Sixth and Seventh Circuits should bear in mind that there is less certainty regarding whether their plan venue provisions will be enforced." [In re Mathias, No. 16-3808 (7th Cir. Aug. 10, 2017)]
Thomson Reuters Practical Law

Discussions on
the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Estimated 2018 Qualified Plan Limits
"The July CPI was published on Friday, so ... It looks like we can lock in the 2018 limits as follows: DB $220,000; DC $55,000; Compensation $275,000; 401(k) $18,500; HCE $120,000; Key employee $175,000; Catch-ups $6,000; SIMPLE $13,000."
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Points-Based Service-Based Allocation
"Does a profit sharing allocation that is a points-based allocation based on service where participants get a share of the contribution based on the ratio of their years of service to the total years of service of all participants meet any kind of designed base safe harbor? It's basically a pro rata allocation based on service."
BenefitsLink Message Boards

What Are Consequences of SEP's Failure to Cover Two Eligible Employees?
"We have a client who established a regular SEP but failed to cover their two eligible employees for five years. We've advised the client how to correct using guidance from the IRS Fix-it Guide. What are the consequences if the client does not make the corrections?"
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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