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Empower Retirement
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Defined Benefit Cost Savings
August 20, 2019 WEBCAST
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Creating an Employee-Centric Benefits Strategy
August 28, 2019 WEBCAST

Everything Roth
September 19, 2019 WEBCAST

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[Guidance Overview]

DOL Guidance Helps Employers Manage Pension Obligations for Uniformed Service Members Returning To Work

"The VETS USERRA Fact Sheet #1 ... provides quick and direct guidance to employers and employees ... concerning the application of USERRA to employers that pay pension benefits as a percentage of total earnings of employees. It can benefit any employer seeking a greater understanding of its pension obligations under USERRA."

Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]


Make Sure Your Participants Are Prepared

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Ensuring that your plan participants are prepared for retirement can be hard to do. Ready or Not: Your Retirement Planning Guide makes it easier. Order your copies today to ensure your participants have resources for retirement.

[Guidance Overview]

Time Is Running Out for 403(b) Plan Sponsors to Secure Retroactive Relief

"[Rev. Proc. 2017-18] announced a deadline of March 31, 2020 for adopting pre-approved 403(b) plans in order to receive retroactive relief for any noncompliant plan provisions. Shortly thereafter, it began issuing opinions on plans submitted by sponsors of volume submitter and prototype 403(b) plan documents."

Stinson Leonard Street

A Simple Guide to 401(k) Participant Disclosures

"[P]lan sponsors have a fiduciary responsibility to distribute a variety of documents and disclosure notices.... [A table] outlines the general annual notices and deadlines for distribution."

RPG Consultants

The Correct Approach for Controlling Retirement Plan Fees (PDF)

"A burgeoning era of employee activism is underway in which plaintiff lawyers are finding fertile ground for litigation opportunities, catching many employers unprepared.... Organizations that have achieved advanced levels of governance, risk management, and compliance in their fiduciary role have realized significant benefits, especially in their plans' costs."


Vendor Fees: The Importance of RFPs

"While fee reductions resulting from RFIs are advantageous, they usually pale in comparison to the fee reductions that can be obtained through an RFP. ... [If] the change introduces enhanced services and lower fees and is communicated effectively, participants are more likely to be energized with increased interest in the plan and their retirement savings."

Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP


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Proposed Legislation Would Offer Nondiscrimination Testing Relief for Closed Pension Plans

"Proposed Senate legislation would ease nondiscrimination testing for closed defined benefit (DB) pension plans.... [T]he Retirement Security Preservation Act [S 2352] mirrors the testing relief provided in the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019 (HR 1994), a broad reform package that sailed through the House in May and is now awaiting Senate action."


Editor's Pick Long-Term Value Creation in U.S. Retirement

11 pages. "Given its relatively fragmented structure (there are over 50 firms with at least $1 billion of recordkeeping assets, according to Plansponsor), pricing pressure, and technological intensity, it would be rational to expect the industry to consolidate around a handful of 'at scale' competitors, eventually leading to pricing equilibrium....  The question, however, is whether the pace of recordkeeping M&A will accelerate or maintain its current pace."


Texas 403(b) Law Causes Adviser Concern Over Investor Protection

"The law ...  eliminates price caps on investment products such as annuities sold to employees in the state's kindergarten through 12th grade school system who participate in a 403(b) plan. Current rules stipulate that products have a maximum front-end or back-end commission of 6% and that product fees can't exceed 2.75% a year."

InvestmentNews; subscription may be required

If the SEC Is Telling You to Ask Your Financial Advisor These Questions, You Probably Should

"While advisers don’t have to give you these questions until June 30, 2020, you should start asking them now. This article gives you those questions and adds my thoughts about the answers."

Fred Reish, via Forbes

Claim Social Security at the Right Time

"[T]oday’s re­tirees have rarely made the right call, with only 4% taking Social Security at the financially optimal time. Put another way: Collectively, retirees stand to lose out on $3.4 trillion in income throughout their retirement -- or about $111,000 per household."


Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress

"20 pages. Members are now covered under one of four different retirement arrangements  ... Under both CSRS and FERS, Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they have completed at least five years of service.... 617 retired Members of Congress [were] receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of October 1, 2018." [RL30631, Aug. 8, 2019]

Congressional Research Service [CRS]

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Auditor Considerations Under the New Employee Benefit Plan Standard

"Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 136 ... contains detailed guidance on the form and content of an auditor’s opinion on ERISA plan financial statements. There are comprehensive examples and explanations for the structure and presentation of such opinions, including reports for audits in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, as well as other auditing standards.."


How Can Auditors NOT Be Responsible for the Financial Statements?

"Nonattest services are tasks performed by an auditor for its client outside the scope of ... an audit. Financial statement preparation and cash-to-accrual conversions performed by an auditor for a client are considered nonattest services ... Other common examples ... include preparation of reconciliations (trust statements to payroll and/or recordkeeper statements), preparation of Form 5500, 990s, or other tax returns, valuation and disclosure of investments including methodology and leveling, and proposing journal entries affecting the financial statements[.]"

Belfint Lyons Shuman

ERISA's Full and Fair Review Requirement Gets a Full and Fair Review by the Tenth Circuit

"Prior case law in the Tenth Circuit was less than clear on whether (and under what circumstances) procedural irregularities could cause a reviewing court to conclude that the irregularities are sufficient to justify the imposition of a de novo review. In this case, the Tenth Circuit appears to assume (without formally deciding) that discretionary review can indeed be lost in the event procedural irregularities exist in the record."  [Mary D. v. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Case No. 17-4195 (10th Cir. Jul. 15, 2019)]


Plan Administrator Deemed an ERISA Fiduciary

"The Fourth Circuit ... determined that the spouse's complaint adequately alleged that the employer was a functional fiduciary because of its status as plan administrator and because of the vice president's individualized advice to the spouse regarding her claim. The Fourth Circuit also noted its prior decisions in which it had held that a plan administrator acts in a fiduciary capacity when it verifies employee eligibility for plan participation." [Dawson-Murdock v. National Counseling Group, Inc., No. 18-1989 (4th Cir. Jul. 24, 2019)]

The Wagner Law Group

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

414(s) Testing Questions

I know if a plan fails the 414(s) test, we have to use compensation that satisfies the test. Say the plan excludes bonuses and the 414(s) test is failing. Instead of just including the bonus and moving on, could I perhaps exclude HALF of the bonus if that would then pass the 414(s) test? For example, only NHCEs get a bonus. This year, they all got a 6% bonus. Test fails; difference is 6%. Could I exclude only half the bonus, so now my difference is the widely-accepted 3%?

BenefitsLink Message Boards

Rate Group Failure; Correction Options?

Cross tested plan is not set up with individual rate groups for each participant, but rather rate designations (i.e., 5%, 10%, 15%). Rate group fails for one HCE. We see two options for correcting, but neither one fits cleanly into the rate group designated percents: [1] Reduce failing HCE from 15% to 14% (preferably than to 10% since 14% passes), or [2] Increase 1 NHCE from 10% to 12.35%. Agree?

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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