Retirement Plans Newsletter

December 14, 2017

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[Official Guidance]

Text of PBGC Interest Rate Update for Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans, January and First Quarter 2018
"The first quarter 2018 interest assumptions under the allocation regulation will be 2.39 percent for the first 20 years following the valuation date and 2.60 percent thereafter. In comparison with the interest assumptions in effect for the fourth quarter of 2017, this represents no change in the select period ..., an increase of 0.05 percent in the select rate, and a decrease of 0.03 percent in the ultimate rate, the final rate. The January 2018 interest assumptions under the benefit payments regulation will be 0.75 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 December 2017, these assumptions are unchanged."
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC]

[Advert.]

Certificate in Benefit Plan Administration

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

The Certificate in Benefit Plan Administration program provides a survey of the core operational areas and issues involved in administering benefit plans.


[Official Guidance]

Text of Treasury Department Approval of Application to Reduce Benefits Under International Association of Machinists Motor City Pension Plan (PDF)
"Because a majority of voters identified as eligible by the Plan did not vote to reject the benefit reduction, the benefit reduction may go into effect. Treasury, in consultation with DOL and PBGC, has issued a final authorization to reduce benefits under the Plan as described in the Application, effective January 1, 2018, subject to the conditions described [in this letter]."
U.S. Department of the Treasury

Why it's Dangerous to Ignore Undeliverable Mail Sent by Your Retirement Plan
"The DOL's position is that it is a breach of fiduciary duty for a plan sponsor not to take reasonable steps to locate missing participants that are due a benefit. The DOL has not issued official guidance on what steps would be considered reasonable, but hopefully if the IRS guidelines are followed, the DOL would find that a plan sponsor acted in good faith to find missing participants. While the IRS is addressing RMDs in all retirement plan audits, the DOL's focus appears to be more on large pension plans."
Graydon

Can 403(b) Plan Compensation Definition Include Housing Allowance?
"The [IRS] has taken the position for a number of years that amounts nontaxable as housing allowance are not compensation for purposes of the 415 definition of compensation. Thus, they cannot be counted as compensation for purposes of the 100% of compensation limit.... However, for purposes of making employer contributions, a different definition of compensation could be used that includes nontaxable housing allowance."
PLANSPONSOR

Appeals Court May Allow California Governmental Employers to Decrease Rate of Future Benefit Accruals
"The so-called pension spiking was outlawed ... in 2013 ... Employees of the three counties filed suit to compel their retirement systems to continue to allow the unused time to be part of the final pension calculation."
Pensions & Investments

[Advert.]

A West Coast Conference with Advanced Content

Sponsored by ASPPA/ACOPA

At the LA Advanced Pension and 401(k) Conference, January 25-26, 2018, you'll experience advanced level, challenging discussions with the very best industry expert speakers.


Report Says CalPERS Investments Too Focused on Environmental and Social Activism
"The American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) said CalPERS board members have overemphasized what are called Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments -- and the sluggish returns on those investments are dragging down the pension fund's bottom line.... The report also questioned the pension board's plans to increase climate-related shareholder proposals from 12 to 17. The report also takes aim at individual board members."
The San Diego Union-Tribune

Majority of Annuity Premium Used to Create Guaranteed Income
"[H]alf of the money ($84.5 billion) invested in annuities in 2016 was used to purchase products that offer guaranteed income -- either immediately or for the future.... Those who bought annuities designed for accumulation tend to be under 61, a time when most Americans are still in the accumulation phase.... [B]uyers over age 62 tend to purchase annuities designed to create guaranteed income"
LIMRA

[Opinion]

Slanted 'Study' on the Role of ESG Falls Completely Apart
"The [The American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF)] report argues that our efforts to engage with companies on policies that can impact their bottom line have harmed returns. The report is dead wrong.... [T]his report cherry picks a thin set of loosely-related facts to subliminally promote an anti-pension ideology."
CalPERS

[Opinion]

Employees Need Access to Guaranteed Income in Retirement
"As policymakers discuss potential solutions to the retirement savings crisis, it is important to remember that one of the strongest features of defined benefit pensions is the guarantee of monthly income in retirement, a feature that is highly valued by working people."
National Public Pension Coalition

Benefits in General

Claims Administrator's Decision Reviewed De Novo Due to Inadequate Delegation of Discretionary Authority
"While the SPD and administrative services agreement in this case implied that the claims administrator had discretionary authority, the court determined that more specificity was required to actually delegate that authority.... [To] increase the likelihood of deferential review by a court, delegation of discretionary authority should be done clearly and in accordance with the terms of the plan, and final decisions should be made only by parties to whom discretionary authority has been appropriately delegated." [Miller v. PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., No.16-25142 (S.D. Fla. 2017)]
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Senate HELP Committee Advances EBSA Nominee Rutledge
"[Preston Rutledge] currently serves as senior tax and benefits counsel on the Majority Tax Staff of the Senate Finance Committee, and as top aide to Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. These ties to the government, and particularly to a legislator known for being active on retirement and labor issues, suggest a change in strategy from the president's first effort to name the top official at the [DOL]."
planadviser

Employee Benefits: Past, Present and Future [Video]
American Benefits Council President James Klein interviews Dave Walker on the future of private sector benefit plans, the viability of government health and retirement entitlement programs, and the evolving role of states in regulating employee benefits. Walker is the former Assistant Secretary of Labor, the Public Trustee for Social Security and Medicare, and the Comptroller General of the United States. The interview was part of the American Benefits Council's "50th Anniversary Symposium: The Future of Employee Benefits."
American Benefits Council

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

In-Plan Roth Conversion by Participant Not Yet 59-1/2?
Let's say a plan allows for in-plan Roth conversions. A participant has only pre-tax deferrals in his account, but he's not yet 59-1/2. [1] Because deferrals always have an age 59-1/2 age restriction for an in-service distribution, would he be able to convert his account to Roth? [2] If so, what if he decides to withhold a certain amount, say 10%, on that distribution? Permitted? It seems to me that it shouldn't be, because the amount going to the Roth conversion would be less than the original amount (the other 10% being the taxes paid).
BenefitsLink Message Boards

How Does an Owner Who Gets No Paycheck Make a Deferral?
An LLC shareholder taxed as a sole proprietor wants to contribute a deferral but he gets no paycheck. How is that accomplished?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Required Beginning Date for Former 5% Owner?
A shareholder is ceasing to be a 5% owner as of 12/31/2017 and will continue to work at the company. He turns 70-1/2 in 2018. Because he's not a 5% owner in 2018, is it correct that he does NOT have to start taking RMD's from the plan until he retires?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

DFVC Filing; DOL Says We Paid Too Much in Penalties
Plan sponsor failed to file the final/short Form 5500 for the plan year ending 5/31/2016. We recommended DFVC, filed the return in November 2017 and paid the $2,000 penalty (this is a large plan). The DOL's online calculator correctly indicates that the penalty is $2,000 (based on 313 days late). The client received a letter from the DOL stating that they might have submitted an overpayment of $1,260, and included an ACH form for the plan sponsor to request the refund. We called the DFVC number on the letter but got voicemail and have yet to receive a call back. Any idea what might have triggered the letter? Anyone had success in addressing this with the DOL? We don't want to overpay the penalty, but we are pretty sure the penalty is $2,000 and not $740.
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Ever Filed a Form 8955 Late? Use DFVCP?
Has anyone had to file a late Form 8955? We have a new client whose form was not filed for 2016. I saw something from the IRS saying that such a plan sponsor should file under DFVCP, which I suppose means re-filing the Form 5500 and paying the penalty. Does anyone have experience with this?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

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Lois Baker, J.D., President  loisbaker@benefitslink.com
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
Holly Horton, Business Manager  hollyhorton@benefitslink.com

BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2017 BenefitsLink.com, 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 BenefitsLink.com, 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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