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Regulatory Advisory Services Consultant
in Enfield CT

Associate Attorney - Tax
Carlsmith Ball LLP
in Honolulu HI

Employee Benefits Law Specialist, Office of Health Plan Standards and Compliance Assistance
Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor
in Washington DC / Telecommute

Benefit Calculation Analyst
Stanley Benefit Services, Inc.
in Greensboro NC

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Webcasts, Conferences

Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) Update
August 29, 2019 WEBCAST
Thompson Hine LLP

Executive Compensation Update
September 5, 2019 WEBCAST
Thompson Hine LLP

Complex Death Claims and How to Handle Them
September 17, 2019 WEBCAST

Mastering IRC 457(f): Guidance for ERISA Counsel in Structuring Deferred Compensation Plans for Nonprofit Entities
October 29, 2019 WEBCAST

Creating an Effective ESOP Team
October 29, 2019 WEBCAST
National Center for Employee Ownership [NCEO]

►See 141 Upcoming Webcasts and Conferences

►See 1548 Recorded Webcasts


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[Official Guidance]

Text of PBGC FY 2018 Projections Report (PDF)

55 pages. "This year’s projections for PBGC’s Multiemployer Program continue to show a very high likelihood of insolvency during FY2025, and that insolvency is a near certainty by the end of FY2026. Compared to last year’s projections, the potential risk that insolvency occurs during FY2024 is lower....  New results for PBGC’s Single-Employer Program show the program is likely, but not assured, to remain out of deficit over the next decade."

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC]


You deserve a successful, stress free 5500 filing season!

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[Guidance Overview]

Meet the MEPs: Association Retirement Plans

"[T]he regulations make it clear that it is acceptable for benefits to be the primary purpose of the association as long as it also has at least one other significant purpose.... The employer members of the organization must control it in both form and substance.  The DOL is quick to point out that this is a facts and circumstances determination and does not necessarily require the members to manage the actual day-to-day operations of the group or association."


Settlement in Johns Hopkins 403(b) Plan Lawsuit Includes Recordkeeper Bid

"The $14 million settlement agreement also requires the University to retain an independent consultant to assist plan fiduciaries in reviewing the plan’s existing investment structure." [Kelly v. The Johns Hopkins Univ., No. 16-2835 (D. Md. Sept. 28, 2017; settlement filed Aug. 6, 2019)]

PLANSPONSOR; free registration may be required

Kruse-Western Wins Partial Dismissal in ERISA Lawsuit over $244 Million Stock Sale

"[T]he federal court dismissed the plaintiff’s ERISA claim for equitable relief against non-fiduciaries and ERISA fiduciary-breach claims against shareholders who sold stock to an ESOP. The case affirms some limitations under ERISA for claims against non-fiduciaries and the scope of fiduciary obligations." [Zavala v. Kruse-Western, Inc., No. 19-239 (E.D. Cal. July 26, 2019)]

McDermott Will & Emery

Data Is Not an Infinite Problem: There Is an Endgame

"Pension plans have always had missing participants or incomplete information. Participants and their beneficiaries often continue to be included in counts and liabilities long after they have passed away. Accrued benefits are not always accurate, forms of payment are frequently misreported, dummy Social Security numbers are used, and it’s not uncommon for dates of birth and even gender to be incorrectly reported.... [F]iduciaries should tackle these issues head on and see data as a strategic opportunity to create savings for the pension plan."

River and Mercantile Solutions


SPARK Forum - November 3-5, 2019 -- The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL

Sponsored by SPARK

Join us at the retirement services industry's leading event for top marketing, sales, administration and record keeping professionals. Comprehensive agenda includes topics for Record Keepers, 401(k) Plan Providers, Financial Advisors and Cyber Security Professionals.

401(k) Fee Study: What Does a Fiduciary-Grade Advisor Cost?

"Even though fiduciary-grade 401(k) financial advisors are bound by a higher standard of care than non-fiduciaries, their advice often costs less. ... Check out [the] latest fee study of fiduciary-grade 401(k) advisors [in this article]."

Employee Fiduciary

DOL Ready for DC Multiple Employer Plans

"DOL adopted a single safe harbor for all PEOs. The new safe harbor contains only four criteria, and instead of allowing the PEO the choice of selecting five from among the nine criteria, the new safe harbor requires that the PEO satisfy all four.... [T]he DOL indicated that they did not intend to convey that a corporate MEP could not be a single employer benefit plan under ERISA. The preamble for the final regulation addressed comments on the status of these plans."


Final Regs Expand MEP Options

"A MEP typically allows multiple employers to participate in a single retirement plan, which may ... help reduce plan administrative and fiduciary responsibilities for participating employers.... Some employers may benefit from joining a MEP -- especially smaller employers that may not have the time or money to offer their own retirement plan."


Multiemployer Pension Rescue Plan Passes House, But Senate Outlook Dim

"Financially troubled multiemployer defined benefit plans could obtain federal loans and additional grants, under a sweeping $68 billion aid package approved July 24 by the Democrat-controlled House. The Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act (HR 397) now heads to the Senate, where Republicans are unlikely to give the necessary votes for passage. Lawmakers in both parties agree on the need to shore up underfunded multiemployer plans but differ over possible solutions."


Examining the Experiences of States That Closed Pension Plans

"Switching from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution or cash balance plan did not address existing pension underfunding as promised. Instead, costs for these states increased after closing the pension plan....  The experience of the four states shows that changing benefits for new hires does not solve an existing funding shortfall.... Workforce challenges are emerging as a result of the retirement benefit changes."

National Institute on Retirement Security [NIRS]

Benefits in General

High-Tech vs. High-Touch: The Best Ways to Help with Enrollment Decisions

"To extend both the communication moment of impact and employee reach, employers are offering a combination of the tried and true communication (newsletters, flyers and face-to-face meetings) and the integration of emerging tech-enabled and on-demand solutions such as portals, comparison tools, social media, text messaging and mobile apps. These can all help educate employees and prepare them to make benefit decisions in the ways that work best for them. The challenge is striking the right balance for your organization."


Plan Service Provider Contracts: To Provide or Not to Provide to Plan Participants

"Several courts don’t require disclosure of service provider contracts because they simply don’t govern the relationship between the plan participant and the provider.... Other courts have avoided determining as a matter of law that a service provider’s contract is not subject to disclosure because the terms of the contract could affect the plan participant’s rights. ... The tension in these decisions leads to one conclusion -- you probably should read the service provider contract before determining whether disclosure is required."

Thompson Hine, via Lexology; free registration required

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

Making Sense of Monte Carlo (PDF)

13 pages. "[M]anagement teams and compensation committees ... may know that Monte Carlo simulations are used to value awards with market conditions ...  but not how it works or why values are high or low.... By understanding how simulations 'predict the future,' we can better understand the implications of compensation design decisions. [The goal of this article] is to help decision makers understand how the technique works, why the Monte Carlo values may be high (or low), and the impact of design choices on valuation outcomes."


Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

CPC Modules and Written Exam

Trying to get a sense of what I'm up against before purchasing. Only one of my coworkers has taken this exam and it was quite some time ago... I have 3 years of experience in the retirement industry (got my QPA in February 2018) but would like to tackle this sooner than later. Specifically, how long do the modules alone take to complete? How much time should I allot to study for the written exam afterwards? Would it be beneficial to purchase all 4 elective modules?

BenefitsLink Message Boards

In-Service Distributions: How Early Can They Be Made?

Can a plan be amended to have an in-service distribution amount prior to age 59-1/2? I'm speaking with one of the the big payroll companies, and they say they can't change this provision. I received a different response from some else, though -- who says that such a provision can be written into the plan, such as age 50 with 10 years of service.

BenefitsLink Message Boards

What Reg or Other Legal Authority Says a Plan Becomes Disqualified If Not Operated According to Its Terms?

A retirement plan, to tax-qualify under Internal Revenue Code § 401(a), must meet all conditions not only in the written plan but also in actual administration according to that written plan. The Internal Revenue Service’s Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System presumes the point; unlike some other points made in the Revenue Procedure, this one cites no Treasury regulation as support for the point. But I’m not (yet) seeing a regulation, court decision, or other law source that clearly states or supports the in-operation point. Can you provide a cite?

BenefitsLink Message Boards

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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.

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