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Social Science Research Analyst
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
in Washington DC / Telecommute

Employee Benefits Investigator
Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor
in New York NY / Telecommute

Retirement Contribution Processor
Alerus Financial
in Arden Hills MN

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Webcasts, Conferences

Nonqualified Plan Advisor Conference
September 15, 2019 in IL
National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA]

Construction Industry Benefits Conference
September 23, 2019 in MA
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Benefit Innovations: Driving Business Strategies Through Financial Wellbeing
September 25, 2019 in OH
ASPPA Benefits Council [ABC] of Greater Cincinnati

IRA University
October 2, 2019 WEBCAST

HSA University
October 3, 2019 WEBCAST

457(b) Plans for Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities
October 3, 2019 WEBCAST

Ascend Conference
October 7, 2019 in WA

West Coast Defined Contribution Conference
November 3, 2019 in CA
Pensions & Investments

Ultimate Cash Balance Seminar
November 4, 2019 in IL
DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.

►See 139 Upcoming Webcasts and Conferences

►See 1545 Recorded Webcasts


New Topics on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

New Comments and Topics

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Audit Survival Tips for Retirement Plans

"Reviewing the Information Request Letter, collecting the required information, being thoroughly familiar with your plan’s operation, and of course, fully cooperating with your auditors will go a long way in getting you through the audit. And while the chances of being audited are relatively low, the most successful approach is to assume that you will be audited and prepare accordingly by performing an annual self-audit. "



ASC CE Webcast: Hardship Withdrawals from 401(k), 403(b) & 457(b) Plans

Sponsored by ASC

Learn the differences between hardship withdrawals from 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans and see how recent changes in the rules and regulations may impact hardship withdrawals. Register Now!

PBGC Drafts Updated Premium Package for Risk Transfers, Final Filings

"PBGC has proposed changes to its premium filing package for 2020 to collect additional information on risk-transfer activity involving retirees. The revisions come in response to IRS Notice 2019-18, which relaxed the prohibition against defined benefit plans offering retiree lump-sum windows. The proposal would also require plan sponsors to file a coverage-determination request when making a final premium filing after PBGC coverage ceases."


Important Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

"[1] Are you a fiduciary for the recommendations you make? .... [2] How are you paid? ... [3] What is your investment philosophy? ... [4] What professional credentials do you have? ... [5] What is your educational background? ... [6] How many years have you been an investment adviser? ... [7] What does your ideal client look like? ... [8] What happens to my business if you are gone? ... [9] Does the company you work for sell investment funds/products?"

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants

What's the Difference Between 3(38) and 3(21) 401(k) Advisers?

"Plan sponsors would be most interested in learning what the practical difference between the two options ... While these functional differences can be quite evident to the plan sponsor, less obvious but perhaps of greater significance is the difference in personal fiduciary liability exposure. In determining which arrangement works best for them, 401k plan sponsors need to determine what’s more important: increased control or reduced liability."

Fiduciary News

Have an IRA or 401(k)? The New SECURE Act Will Change Your Estate Planning

"Under the previous rules, we could ‘stretch’ IRA distributions to non-spouse beneficiaries, which allowed for a potentially significant income tax savings to the children of IRA owners. ... Coupled with the fact that inherited IRAs are subject to the claims of the beneficiary’s creditors, many IRA owners created ‘IRA Conduit Trusts’ or other mechanisms to make sure beneficiaries could take only the Required Minimum Distributions and assets in the IRA would be protected. SECURE changes that paradigm."


Here's How Much Your State Spends on Pension Funds

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2017 Annual Survey of Public Pensions, state and local governments contributed $144.6 billion to employee pension programs in 2017.... The states spending the most per public sector worker do not necessarily have greater than average public sector employment. In fact, Alaska and Hawaii are the only two states in the top 10 on this list to also rank among the 10 states where the most people work for the government."


What Is the Maximum Possible Social Security Benefit in 2019?

"The maximum possible Social Security benefit in 2019 depends on the age you begin to collect payments and is: $2,209 at age 62; $2,861 at age 66; $3,770 at age 70. However, qualifying for payments worth $3,000 or more requires some serious career planning throughout your life. Here's what you need to do to qualify for the maximum possible Social Security payment."

U.S. News & World Report

Can a Pre-Tax 401(k) Account Be Converted to a Roth Account?

"There are Roth conversions and Roth transfers. Conversions are only permitted when a participant otherwise has a reason to take money out of the plan. That could be on termination of employment or attainment of age 59-1/2. Transfers, on the other hand, are not restricted to those types of events, so any participant can take advantage of them."


Does Public Pension Board Composition Impact Returns?

"The effectiveness of pension boards depends on their structure, composition, size, and member tenure. Based on best practices for each factor, this analysis constructs a 'Board Effectiveness Index' for 145 pension funds. The results show that a higher Index score is associated with a higher 10-year investment return on fund assets."

Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Benefits in General

Unbelievable: ERISA's Broken Promise

"This article explores the policy dimension of ERISA disclosure law and chronicles the doctrinal decay of the equilibrium Congress envisioned. From the perspective of workers it is a saga of disappointment, disillusionment, and defeat. The new balance may serve the interests of federal courts (reduced caseload) and some employers (increased flexibility), but it also likely contributes to increasing standardization of employee benefit plans, decreasing their utility as instruments of workforce management."

Peter J. Wiedenbeck, Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law, via SSRN

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

Section 409A Deferred Compensation Tax: Is There Any Recourse Against Employer?

"An executive’s ability to recover damages for Section 409A taxes under a state law cause of action or under a Henkel-themed ERISA lawsuit may be foreclosed by the increasingly common practice of including a provision in a deferred compensation plan or agreement, which states that claims may not be asserted against the employer for Section 409A liabilities. To date, there are no published court opinions discussing whether such limitations of Section 409A liability are enforceable."

Blank Rome LLP

Managing Executive Incentive Programs for Chemical Companies

"[This article covers] key attributes of the [chemical] industry and their impact on setting goals and designing incentives to help manage the impact of volatility resulting from: [1] Commodity prices on feedstock supplies and product sales; [2] Macroeconomic trends on demand (domestic and global); [3] Variability in currency exchange rates."

Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Does This Exchange of Variable Annuity Contracts Constitute a Section 1035 Exchange?

Individual currently owns a non-qualified VA. He is the owner and annuitant. Contract had a ratchet and guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit. The ratchet has expired so he is looking at exchanging into a new VA contract. The current contract has the owner as the annuitant and his spouse as designated beneficiary. He is looking at exchanging into a VA where he will be the owner and he and his spouse will be joint annuitants. Does this qualify for a 1035 exchange?

BenefitsLink Message Boards

403(b)(9) Church Plan Operational Error -- Did Employee Waive It?

A non-electing 403(b)(9) church plan has an employer with several operational errors. The employer is currently working towards submitting a VCP application. It has been identified by one person in this organization that part-time employees working 20 hrs/week or more were never given the opportunity to participate via salary deferral. However, the employment offer to one or more part-time employees stated there would be "no benefits" with the part-time position(s). Is this a case of "facts and circumstances" in which the employer could justify not giving an opportunity to participate?

BenefitsLink Message Boards

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Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

IRS Proposed Rule Offers Relief from the Multiple Employer Plan 'One Bad Apple' Rule (PDF)
Groom Law Group, via Bloomberg Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal, Inc.
1298 Minnesota Avenue, Suite H
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 644-4146

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 2019, 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.

Links to web sites other than and are offered as a service to our readers; we were not involved in their production and are not responsible for their content.

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