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Regional Territory Director (South / Southeast)
PenChecks Trust
in AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, VA, WV

Retirement Plan Consultant
First American Bank
in IL

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Webcasts, Conferences

ERISA Plan Vendor Contracting - Traps to Avoid
September 19, 2017 WEBCAST
Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

Perfect Plan: Behavioral Economics & Employee Benefits
September 28, 2017 in OH
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Cleveland Chapter

►See 184 Upcoming

►See 1261 Recorded


New Topics on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

New Comments and Topics

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[Official Guidance]

Text of Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board Announcement Relaxing Hardship Withdrawal Rules to Help Victims of Hurricane Irma (PDF)
"Beginning today, the [Thrift Savings Plan] will treat any Financial Hardship In-Service Withdrawal Request received until January 24, 2018 as qualifying for a hardship withdrawal if the participant writes 'Hurricane Irma' at the top of the form and checks the block on the form for personal casualty on page 2, Item 18 of the form. The distributions must occur before January 31, 2018 to qualify for this treatment."
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board [FRTIB]


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[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Publication 3125: An Important Message for Taxpayers with IRAs -- The IRS Does Not 'Approve' IRA Investments (PDF)
Rev. Sept. 2017. "If you have an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA), you should be alert to questionable advertisements and solicitations for 'IRS Approved' or 'IRA Approved' investments. These advertisements or solicitations, often for highly speculative or non-traditional types of investments, mislead by falsely claiming that the IRS has approved a particular investment."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Guidance Overview]

Hurricane Irma Relief; Harvey Relief Expanded
"The IRS has provided the same relief to those affected by Irma as it gave to Harvey's victims, and has announced new defined benefit funding relief for the victims of both disasters. This article ... explain[s] the new announcements, and [notes] that the deadline to contribute 401(k) safe harbor employer contributions is not extended."
S. Derrin Watson, via FIS Relius

Essentia Health Loses Round in Lawsuit Over Retirement Plan Fees
"The allegations that Essentia fiduciaries breached their duties by allowing the plans to pay higher than reasonable market fees for record-keeping services and that comparable or superior services were available at lower cost are sufficient to survive dismissal, Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois said ... Brisbois also recommended not dismissing the participants' claim that Essentia failed to monitor the plans' fiduciaries and ensure that they were satisfying their duties. If the recommendation is adopted, the Minnesota health-care nonprofit that also serves North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Idaho will have to defend a lawsuit that seeks class treatment for thousands of participants in Essentia's retirement plans." [Morin v. Essentia Health, No. 16-4397 (Magistrate's Report, D. Minn. Sept. 14, 2017)]
Bloomberg BNA

A Fiduciary Rule Guide for Advisors
"The rule expands the 'investment advice fiduciary' definition under [ERISA] of 1974. If this sweeping regulation (1,023 pages in length) is not stopped outright, it will automatically elevate all financial professionals who work with retirement plans or provide retirement planning advice to the level of a fiduciary, bound legally and ethically to meet the standards of that status. While the new rules are likely to have at least some impact on all financial advisors, it is expected that those who work on commission, such as brokers and insurance agents, will be impacted the most."
Financial Planning


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Are 403(b) Plans Evolving Fast Enough?
"403(b) plans are showing improvements in automated plan features ... More than 1 in 5 (21 percent) now offer auto-enrollment, up from just 19 per cent last year. Default deferral percentages at 4, 5 and 6 percent are all higher than last year. And default percentages at 1, 2 or 3 percent all declined. The number of plans offering automatic enrollment at 6 percent more than doubled to now more than 1 in 10 (11.7 percent)."
The Principal Blog

Assessing Americans' Financial and Retirement Security
16 pages. "45 percent of U.S. households are financially secure and on track for a secure retirement. 20 percent need to take some modest actions to be financially secure. 35 percent of Americans need to significantly improve their financial security.... [S]mall, consistent actions by households can dramatically improve their financial and retirement security in a matter of years."
American Council of Life Insurers [ACLI]

Treasury Approves New York State Teamsters Benefit Reductions
"The pension fund is the third multiemployer fund to receive approval for benefit reductions under the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014, and the largest to date. As of Jan. 1, the plan was 37.8% funded, with $1.28 billion in assets and $3.39 billion in liabilities. While 9,788 participants voted against the plan and only 4,081 voted for it, another 20,767 did not vote, leaving only 28.26% of the total vote opposed. The law requires 50% to stop it."
Pensions & Investments

Kroger to Leave Central States Pension and Start New Plan
"Kroger Co.... intends to complete its withdrawal from the Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund, likely on Sept. 16, and move some 2,100 active plan participants to a new traditional pension ... That date marks the expiration of Kroger's collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters. The withdrawal from the fund is expected to be completed under terms of a new bargaining agreement reached between the company and union in March 2017."
Bloomberg BNA

California Pension Reform: The San Jose Model
"[In] August 2015, the San Jose city council passed a compromise resolution that replaced Measure B with a scaled down reform; this was approved by voters in November 2016. The provisions of this new pension reform measure should be of keen interest to local reformers everywhere in California, because they survived relentless attacks in court.... San Jose's current unfunded pension liability now stands at just over $3.0 billion. These reforms are estimated to save $1.7 billion over the next ten years."


What Is the New Hampshire Decennial Retirement Commission?
"There is legitimate concern that the anti-pension ideologues serving on the decennial retirement commission will use the commission's report and recommendations to push for harmful changes to the New Hampshire Retirement System. This could mean a push for cash balance plans or even conversion to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan."
National Public Pension Coalition

Benefits in General

[Official Guidance]

DOL Extends Hurricane Harvey Compliance Guidance and Relief to Employee Benefit Plans Impacted by Hurricane Irma
"The Department understands that plan fiduciaries, employers, labor organizations, service providers, and participants and beneficiaries may encounter issues complying with [ERISA] over the next few months as the implications of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey unfold. The guidance provided in this statement generally applies to employee benefit plans, plan sponsors, employers and employees, and service providers to such employers who were located in a county identified for individual assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey."
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Staying Out of Trouble: How to Avoid IRS and DOL Audits (PDF)
48 presentation slides. Topics include: [1] Overview of benefit plan audits; [2] IRS audit triggers and process; [3] DOL audit triggers and process; [4] If your plan is audited; [5] Avoiding audits and compliance issues; [6] Common retirement plan compliance issues; and [7] Common welfare plan compliance issues.
McDermott Will & Emery

on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Withdrawal Liability Calculation: Use the Pool Method When Contribution History Incomplete?
"I handle the administration for a construction fund. It is my understanding that the IRS has required that a construction fund to use the Presumptive method to calculate withdrawal liability. This fund has never needed to do a withdrawal liability calculation until now. This method requires 20 years worth of contribution history for the Fund but the Administrator can only give me 11 years worth of information. Can we instead use the pool method because the information simply isn't available?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

When Do the Restrictions of Treas. Reg. 1.401(a)(4)-5 Apply?
"Treas. Reg. section 1.401(a)(4)-5(b)(3) provides that benefits otherwise payable to restricted employees (generally the 25 HCEs with the highest compensation) under a defined benefit plan are limited if the plan is not at least 110% funded after the distribution; further, if the value of the benefit is less than 1% of the plan's current liabilities, the restrictions do not apply. Is the 1% exemption only applicable at benefit commencement date or (like the 110% Test) is the 1% exemption applied at every payment date, so that the full amount can be paid once the value falls below 1%?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Participant's Loan in Arrears When Leave of Absence Begins
"If a participant is on an authorized non-military leave of absence from her employer, Q&A-9 of Treasury Regulation Section 1.72(p)-1 provides that her participant loan repayments may be suspended for up to one year. What if the participant's loan repayments were in arrears prior to the commencement of the leave of absence? Q&A-10 of Treasury Regulation Section 1.72(p)-1 permits a plan administrator to allow for a cure period ending not later than the last day of the calendar quarter following the calendar quarter in which the required installment payment was due. Does the suspension permitted under Q&A-9 apply in this scenario, which would actually result in the cure period being extended by up to one year? Or is the suspension permitted under Q&A-9 applicable only where the loan was otherwise current when the leave commenced?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Mortality Tables for 2018 Funding and Lump Sums?
"Has there been any news on which mortality tables will be used for funding and lump sums after 2017?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Effect of Rollover Contributions on 403(b) Plan's Non-ERISA Status
"A 501(c)(3) organization has a non-ERISA deferral-only plan and meets the DOL safe harbor rules. If the plan/investment arrangement permits rollover contributions, will the plan be subject to ERISA?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

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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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