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DC Plan Administrator
Northeast Professional Planning Group, Inc.
in Red Bank NJ / NY

Benefits Financial Analyst
Leading Edge Benefit Advisors, LLC
in Fort Myers FL

Defined Contribution Administrator
Sunwest Pensions
in Tempe AZ

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Webcasts, Conferences

Missing Participants: What's Your Obligation Under ERISA?
September 10, 2019 WEBCAST
Boutwell Fay LLP

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
September 23, 2019 in NV
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

Top Five Retirement Plan Errors and DOL / IRS Audit Trends
September 25, 2019 in IL
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Chicagoland Chapter

401(k) Fiduciary Best Practices: Thoughts on Litigation and Trends in Governance
October 2, 2019 WEBCAST
Thompson Hine LLP

Retirement Income Breakfast Briefing
October 10, 2019 in NY
Pensions & Investments

►See 150 Upcoming Webcasts and Conferences

►See 1548 Recorded Webcasts


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[Guidance Overview]

An Uncashed Check is Taxable

"The situation described in [Rev. Rul. 2019-19] is one in which the plan is required to make a distribution and the participant receives the distribution.... [It] seems reasonable that the consequences of a participant failing to cash a distribution check ... would also apply to a situation in which the participant requests a distribution. And, it seems reasonable that a plan administrator may assume that a check for a requested (or required) distribution is received by the participant, absent the check being returned as undeliverable, in the year in which the distribution is made."

Spencer Fane


ASC CE Webcast: Administrative Challenges of Dealing with Participant Deaths

Sponsored by ASC

John Griffin, J.D., LL.M. will discuss issues that plan administrators face when a plan participant dies, including beneficiary issues, spousal rights, missing participants, RMDs and more. Register Now!

Top 10 Areas of Focus in DOL Investigations of Retirement Plans

"[T]his article identifies the top 10 issues of DOL focus with respect to retirement plan fiduciary compliance. This list is a reminder of the importance of a proactive self-review by plan administrators, even before the DOL initiates an investigation."

Morgan Lewis, Via Employee Benefit Plan Review

Securing Retirement Savings: 401(k) Plan Cybersecurity

"At a minimum, plan fiduciaries should be taking some steps to guard electronic access to both monetary assets and sensitive participant data, and they should periodically re-evaluate best practices as technology evolves.... [S]ome proactive steps plan fiduciaries can take to protect participant data and account balances:  [1] Education ... [2] Negotiate cybersecurity protections ... [3] Service provider monitoring... [4] Understand internal risks."

Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article

IRS Extends Temporary Nondiscrimination Relief for Closed DB Plans to 2021

"If the conditions in [Notice 2014-5] are satisfied, defined benefit plan sponsors may continue to rely on its relief for plan years beginning before 2021 -- at which point IRS anticipates the changes to the nondiscrimination regulations will be finalized."


IRS Notice 2019-49 Extends Temporary Nondiscrimination Relief for Closed Defined Benefit Plans Through 2020

"The IRS is extending nondiscrimination relief for an additional year because it anticipates that the final regulations under Code Section 401(a)(4) providing nondiscrimination relief for closed defined benefit plans will not be published in time for plan sponsors to make plan design decisions before the expiration of the nondiscrimination relief provided under Notice 2014-5, as extended by Notice 2018-69. The IRS received many comments on the proposed regulations and it expects that the final regulations will include a number of significant changes in response to those comments."

Thomson Reuters Practical Law

IRS Renews Closed DB Plan Testing Relief for 2020 Plan Year

"The temporary relief ... is narrow. It doesn't waive testing but permits testing an eligible DB plan together with nonelective (but not matching) contributions to a defined contribution (DC) plan. No relief is available for benefits, rights and features testing; for failing the 50-participant requirement; or for designs that provide only matching DC plan contributions to employees excluded from the DB plan."


Standard of Care for Rollover Advice

"[T]he SEC standard of care for rollover recommendations differs from the DOL’s. The standards appear to be essentially the same -- a requirement to act in the customer’s best interest (keeping in mind that Reg BI will not be applicable until June 30, 2020, while the DOL rules are applicable now). However, there are two major differences[.]"

Drinker Biddle

Fiduciary Breaches: When Do Multiple Investment Options Become Too Many?

"A frequent issue cited in the lawsuits against healthcare and higher education institutions is that the retirement plan offers too many investment options. Some of the plans implicated have up to 100 investment options; others have as many as 300 to 400 choices.... While the results in the lawsuits on these claims have been mixed, the Courts have mostly found in favor of the defendants."

Cammack Retirement Group

Pension World Reels From `Financial Vandalism' of Low Yields

"A once-unthinkable collapse in global bond yields is forcing pension funds to buy bonds that offer negative returns -- putting the financial security of future retirees in jeopardy."

Bloomberg; subscription may be required


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Courts Revisit Definition of 'Church Plan' After 2017 Supreme Court Decision

"In 2017 ... a unanimous Supreme Court ... concluded that a plan maintained by an organization with the principal purpose of administering or funding the plan can qualify as a church plan, regardless of who established the plan.... [T]he Court made clear it was not addressing the issue of whether an internal benefits committee can qualify as such a 'principal purpose' organization.... [A] recent case ... decided by the District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, indicated one approach for addressing that issue. A decision by the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ... suggests that a more nuanced analysis might be appropriate."

The Wagner Law Group

Federal Government Advocates Industry-Friendly Position in ESOP Stock Drop Supreme Court Case

"[T]he Solicitor General argued that the Court should hold that ESOP fiduciaries are required to disclose non-public information only when required by federal securities laws. If the Supreme Court accepts that view, ... plaintiffs will face a high bar to plead a fiduciary breach in ESOP stock-drop cases where they cannot plausibly allege a violation of the securities laws[.]" [Jander v. Retirement Plans Committee of IBM, No. 17-3518 (2d Cir. Dec. 10, 2018; cert. pet. granted Jun. 3, 2019)]

Goodwin Procter

U.S. Single-Premium Pension Buy-Out Sales Surpass $4.7 Billion for the Second Consecutive Quarter

"U.S. single-premium pension buy-out product sales surpassed $4.7 billion in the second quarter 2019, which is the 18th consecutive quarter of $1 billion+ sales. This also represents the second consecutive quarter of sales over $4.7 billion ... Second quarter buy-out sales were down 42%, compared with prior year results when a $6 billion contract was reported. Year-to-date, pension buy-out sales were $9.5 billion, down 2% from the first half of 2018."


Maximized Matches and More: Evaluate Your 401(k) Contribution Strategy

"There are several common pitfalls that prevent employees from making the most of their employer’s matching rules. Front-loading 401(k) contributions  ...  Only maxing out the match ...  Special 401(k) matching situations ...  True up provision. ...  Safe harbor contributions. ...  Matching on catch-up contributions for individuals age 50 and older. ...  Vesting schedules. ...  Dollar cost averaging: a best practice for 401(k) funding."


Text of 2017 Enrolled Actuary Program Booklet: Basic (EA-1) Examination, Pension EA-2 (Segment L and F) Examinations (PDF)

35 pages. "The EA-1 examination ... covers the mathematics of compound interest and practical financial analysis and the mathematics of life contingencies and practical demographic analysis. The pension (EA-2) examination consists of two segments: The EA-2 (Segment L) law examination ... covers relevant pension laws ... as they affect pension actuarial practice.... The EA-2 (Segment F) examination ... covers the selection of actuarial assumptions and calculation of minimum required and maximum tax-deductible contributions under current pension law, along with the related actuarial mathematics." [Issued July 2019, for Nov. 2019 and May 2020 exams. Rev. Aug. 8, 2019]

Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries [JBEA]; American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA]; Society of Actuaries

Text of Enrolled Actuaries Pension Examination EA-1, Spring 2019 (PDF)

72 pages. Full text of May 7, 2019 exam with answers, published online by IRS.

Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries [JBEA]; American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA]; Society of Actuaries


Did the Business Roundtable Just Break a Fiduciary Oath?

"The issue of which constituency - or 'stakeholder' - has the highest priority has long been a classic corporate governance conundrum. Still, the prevailing consensus, as espoused by Milton Friedman ... has been corporate executives work for their owners (i.e., shareholders) and have a responsibility to do what those owners desire, which is to make as much money as (legally) possible. That all changed on August 19, 2019.... Are there fiduciary implications for officers of companies that no longer prioritize shareholders? ...  What potential fiduciary liability might an investment adviser have by knowingly using client assets to purchase shares of companies whose CEOs are on record of subordinating shareholder interest?"

Fiduciary News

Benefits in General

Preparing for the New EBP Audit Standard

"SAS 136 is effective for audits of ERISA plan financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 2020 ... The standard addresses requirements specific to: Engagement acceptance ... Audit risk assessment ... Communication of reportable findings ... The form and content of the auditor's report for ERISA plans have changed[.]"

WithumSmith+Brown, PC

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Best Practices for Actuarial Equivalence Study?

Client's attorney is proactively (no problems or lawsuits anticipated, just want to have an objective look) hiring actuarial firm to do actuarial equivalence study respecting client's frozen defined benefit pension plan. Client has hired a particular actuarial firm for consulting on lump sum window, and other matters through the years. The actuarial firm does not consider itself to be a fiduciary respecting the plan, but in terms of best practices, does anyone have thoughts on whether or not another actuarial firm that has never worked before with the client's plan should be selected to do the study or if it doesn't matter?

BenefitsLink Message Boards

Employee Wants to Become an Independent Contractor

The office manager in a plan I administer (profit sharing/3% safe harbor) wants to become an independent contractor paid via a 1099 instead of a W-2 employee. Nothing in her job would change, just the way she is paid. I know this would make her no longer an employee, and she would no longer be able to participate in the plan, but I'm not sure how to advise her on the myriad of other things it could affect. She's also the HR person, so I can't refer her to the HR dept.

BenefitsLink Message Boards

File Form 5310 When Merging Into Another Plan?

Suppose Plan A merges into Plan Z. Plan A files a Final 5500 and shows the transfer amounts to Plan Z. Also suppose Plan A uses a pre-approved document. Can Plan A file a Form 5310 to get a determination for its final year?

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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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