Retirement Plans Newsletter

October 6, 2017

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Jobs

Plan Consultant
Sentinel Benefits and Financial Group
in MA, NY

Implementation Support Analyst
T. Rowe Price
in CO, MD

401k Administrator
Farmer & Betts, Inc.
in CO

Director of Customer Service
YMCA Retirement Fund
in NY

Senior Compliance Consultant
TriStar Pension Consulting
in OK

►See 159 Jobs

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Think a 401(k) Brokerage Window Can Eliminate Your Fiduciary Responsibilities? Think Again
"The obvious risk plan participants face when choosing among the universe of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs is the chance a lack of expertise results in a risky portfolio with poor performance.... Plan sponsors should be aware, however, if a brokerage window will require increased recordkeeping costs, result in higher audit fees, or in any way add to plan expenses. The high fees may be justified, but if so, the plan sponsor should be able to explain and defend these expenses if necessary."
ForUsAll

[Advert.]

Online Learning Course: Fiduciary Responsibilities for ERISA Plans

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Understand the requirements of ERISA, including penalties, vesting requirements, fiduciary responsibilities, plans covered by the PBGC, and the roles of the various enforcement agencies.


L-3 Executives Cleared in ERISA Suit Over Stock Losses
"The lawsuit said [L-3 Communications Corporation's Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer] were wrong to continue allowing L-3 workers to invest retirement savings in the company's stock when an ongoing accounting fraud caused the stock to be artificially inflated. The judge rejected these allegations, saying the plan participant who sued failed to show that the executives should have known that an ongoing fraud was making L-3 stock an imprudent investment." [Price v. Strianese, No. 17-652 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 4, 2017)]
Bloomberg BNA

Are Brokers Violating DOL Fiduciary Rule by Shifting Clients to Fee Accounts?
"The Consumer Federation of America is urging regulators to investigate incidences of broker-dealers shifting retirement savers into fee-based accounts from less expensive commission accounts, which violates the [DOL's] fiduciary rule."
ThinkAdvisor

Using Behavioral Economics to Participants' Advantage
"Use loss aversion to your participants' advantage by stressing what could be gained or lost. Frame communications so participants will clearly understand how they might gain by taking action or lose if they don't take action."
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Employee Reactions to State-Sponsored Auto-IRA Programs
"Only 13 percent said they would opt out of an auto-IRA.... Workers generally support both automatic enrollment (73 percent) and automatic escalation of contributions (68 percent).... Workers appear to be comfortable setting an employee contribution that defaults to a starting rate of 6 percent of earnings."
The Pew Charitable Trusts

[Advert.]

Now is a great time to join Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB)

Sponsored by WEB - Worldwide Employee Benefits Network

WEB members represent more than 25 professions and 30 areas of expertise within the pension and benefits industry -- administrators, consultants, attorneys, accountants, investment managers, communications experts and benefits managers. Join today.


Public Pension Spending and Crowd-Out of Governmental Services in California, 2003-2030 (PDF)
193 pages. "The case studies demonstrate a marked increase in both employer pension contributions and unfunded pension liabilities over the past 15 years, and they reveal that in almost all cases that costs will continue to increase at least through 2030, even under the assumptions used by the plans' governing bodies -- assumptions that critics regard as optimistic.... Pension costs have crowded out and will likely to continue to crowd out resources needed for public assistance, welfare, recreation and libraries, health, public works, other social services, and in some cases, public safety."
Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research [SIEPR]

Pension Costs in Context (PDF)
"[In] 9 states, the total annual cost of corporate subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes exceeds the current annual pension costs for their main public pension plans. In some cases the differences are enormous. In Florida they are nearly three times pension costs. In four of the twelve states, subsidies and loopholes are more than twice pension costs."
Good Jobs First

Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2016
"Disability benefits were paid to almost 10.2 million people. Awards to disabled workers (706,448) accounted for 88 percent of awards to all disabled beneficiaries (799,330). In December, payments to disabled beneficiaries totaled more than $11.3 billion."
U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA]

[Opinion]

California's Pension Costs Cause Reduction in Services by Local Governments
"[M]any US public pensions are chronically underfunded and will not be able to sustain another financial crisis.... Until we reach the boiling point, the pension 'crowding out' effect will continue taking a big chunk out of public budgets, leaving less money for governments to spend ... [No] matter what you do to slay the public-sector pension beast, it's deflationary, and with inflation in freefall, the long-term effects are self-reinforcing."
Pension Pulse

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Hurricane Survival Guide for Employee Benefit Plans and Employers (PDF)
"The IRS extended the deadline for certain disaster-area plan sponsors to file their annual returns for employee benefit plans. The DOL also relaxed its enforcement of certain contribution and election deadlines for disaster-area health plans and defined contribution plans. The IRS relaxed the defined contribution plan rules for loans and in-service hardship distributions for certain disaster-area participants. The PBGC extended minimum contributions and premium payments for disaster-area defined benefit plans, but some PBGC filings will not be extended automatically.... [T]he IRS will allow employees to make tax-free leave donations for disaster relief and allow employers to make tax-free disaster relief payments to employees."
McDermott Will & Emery, via Bloomberg Law Pension & Benefits Daily

ERISA Advisory Council to Meet November 7-8
"[An] open meeting of the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (also known as the ERISA Advisory Council) will be held on November 7-8, 2017.... The purpose of the open meeting on November 7 and the morning of November 8 is for the Advisory Council members to finalize the recommendations they will present to the Secretary. At the November 8 afternoon session, the Council members will receive an update from leadership of [EBSA] and present their recommendations."
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Hurricane Relief Interest Adjustments
"I have several clients in the Irma-affected area. The IRS release grants relief with regard to the otherwise applicable mrc timing (i.e., 8.5 months after the close of the plan year) to 1/31/2018 and likewise for the 9/30/2017 AFTAP certification. I assume though, that the discounting of contributions to the relevant valuation date would still be from the date the contribution is made (i.e., 9/15/17-1/31/2018 is not a interest discounting free zone). Anyone disagree?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Owner Withdrew Amount of IRA RMD from Profit Sharing Plan Instead
"What is the correction method if an owner has been taking his IRA RMD out of his PSP? This has been going on for a few plan years. An amended 1099?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Where Does the IRS Get Its 'Once In, Always In' Rule for 403(b) Participation?
"Am I a newbie who knows nothing, or isn't this a weird IRS interpretation? They make it sound as though no one was following ERISA. All the plan documents I have include the 'safe harbor/1,000 hours in 12 months makes you eligible' language. Bob Toth describes the situation at