Retirement Plans Newsletter

October 7, 2019

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Webcasts, Conferences

Beat Your Next Audit: What to Expect from a Retirement Plan Investigation
November 6, 2019 in OH
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Greater Cincinnati Chapter

How to Bend the Cost-Curve on Growing and Emerging Trends in Pharmacy
November 7, 2019 in MD
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Baltimore Chapter

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Discussions

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[Guidance Overview]

Tips for Conducting a Year-End 401(k) Plan Review

"[T]he best way for an employer to avoid 401(k) plan mistakes is to conduct an annual checkup of the plan document and plan operations.... [IRS Publication 4531 identifies] 11 areas that should be included in a 401(k) plan review, as well as tips for avoiding mistakes in each area."
Thompson Coburn

[Advert.]

Join the Pension Rights Center's Celebration of Superheroes!

Sponsored by Pension Rights Center

Join us to celebrate the 45th anniversary of ERISA, the 43rd anniversary of the Pension Rights Center, and to honor our Retirement Superheroes! Tuesday, Oct. 29, Washington DC.


Faulty Communications About Benefit Options Can Get You Sued: Another Risk for Plan Fiduciaries

"The retiree claims that he was not informed that he was entitled to a subsidized pension prior to normal retirement date, and that his delay in applying for benefits caused him to permanently lose $135,000 in early retirement subsidies.... [E]ven if specific disclosure wasn't required, the facts laid out in the complaint make a compelling case for using good communications to avoid litigation. Further, there are clearly some situations in which retroactive corrective payments are required to be made." [Moon v. Corteva, Inc., No. 19-1856 (D. Del. complaint filed Oct. 2, 2019)]
Cohen & Buckmann, P.C.

Determining Reasonableness of Retirement Plan Fees (PDF)

"Start with a deliberative process ... Consider a wide range of relevant factors.... Look at service provider reports related to fees.... [A]sk the service provider for additional information.... Benchmarking tools and consultants can help ... Obtaining plan-specific comparisons ... Is it time for an RFP?"
Vanguard

What Can Plan Sponsors Do with Plummeting Interest Rates?

"[Defined benefit plan sponsors] know that a decline of this magnitude will increase the measurement of their plan's liabilities.... [T]hanks to advances in technology, consulting actuaries can now generate realistic estimates of actuarial valuation results, funded status, expected investment returns, and other key factors, and deliver them in real time to support critical business decisions."
Milliman

PBGC Seeks to Amend Rules for Administrative Review of Its Decisions

"The major provisions of the proposed rule would subject to appeal: all coverage determinations; and all determinations concerning the allocation of a trusteed plan’s assets upon plan termination, except for determinations concerning the distribution of residual assets, which would remain subject to reconsideration."
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA]

Social Security Debate Shifts From Benefit Cuts to Bigger Checks

"Democrats' proposals show a party growing more comfortable with tax increases and shifting away from trying to reduce budget deficits.... [They] want to expand the popular program, emphasizing low-income retirees, widows and people who left the workforce to care for family members.... President Trump's no-benefit-cuts position in 2016 shrank the partisan divide ...Positions taken since then by House Democrats and candidates ... widen that gap again."
The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required

PAC Case Study: Defending Retiree After Pension Plan Sent Her $37,000 Bill for Error It Made Long Ago

"The PAC helpline has been receiving an increasing number of calls ... dealing with pension plan 'recoupments' [where] pension plans seek to correct their own miscalculations by demanding repayment from unsuspecting beneficiaries. It often takes plans years to discover their mistakes, due to poor compliance management. The overpayments add up month after month, often growing to tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars."
The Gerontology Institute Blog, University of Massachusetts Boston

The Effects of Job Characteristics on Retirement

"By comparing workers' current job characteristics with those that individuals desire, we show that people would like preretirement jobs to be less cognitively and physically demanding and more sociable compared to their current jobs. We also find that most workers worry about their health and the demands of their jobs when they think about their future work trajectory, but relatively few were worried that their employers would retain them. Having access to part-time jobs, and expected longevity were less important predictors of retirement."
National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER]; purchase required for full document

GE Announces U.S. Pension Plan Actions

"Multiple changes represent sizable step in Company's deleveraging plan. Expected to reduce GE's pension deficit by approximately $5-8 billion and net debt by approximately $4-6 billion; in total, along with $5 billion debt tender, GE has announced approximately $9-11 billion in net debt reduction actions in last month. GE's pension plan has been closed to new entrants since 2012; today's actions more closely aligns GE benefits with current industry standards and competitive market practices."
GE Reports

Benefits in General

ERISA Arbitration Looks Safer; Ninth Circuit Reverses District Court, Sends Fiduciary Dispute to Arbitration

"From Munro and Dorman, taken together, one can glean that the Federal Arbitration Act's support for arbitration agreements is alive and well ... While the defendants failed to compel arbitration in Munro, their defeat was technical rather than substantive.... The Ninth Circuit's opinion notably eschewed the anti-arbitration effusions of the court below and instead concentrated on the question of what party's consent was needed to create an enforceable arbitration agreement. The obvious lesson is that arbitration clauses are most effective when included in the terms of the plan rather than left to individual participants' employment agreements."
Morgan Lewis via Mondaq

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Interaction Between 401(a)(17) Limit and Plan's Definition of Compensation

Question about the interaction between the 401(a)(17) limit and a 401(k) Plan that has one or more exclusions from its definition of compensation -- e.g., bonuses are excluded. In figuring out Plan compensation, which applies first -- the Plan's definition or the 401(a)(17) limit?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Exception to Spousal Consent Due to Inability to Locate Spouse

Under the Code and ERISA, spousal consent is not required if the spouse cannot be located. For a participant who is looking to utilize this exception, is the plan required to have the participant submit an affidavit of when s/he last saw their spouse and state in detail what efforts have been made in an attempt to locate the spouse? Or is it  enough if a participant checks a box on the benefit election form under spousal consent which says "I do not know where my spouse is currently located"?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

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Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

How Do Retirees' Spending Patterns Change Over Time?
Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI]

401(k) Lawsuits Get More Complex
InvestmentNews; subscription may be required

When ERISA Preempts State Laws for Employee Benefits
DeBofsky, Sherman & Casciari, P.C.

BenefitsLink.com, Inc.
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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 2019 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.

Links to web sites other than BenefitsLink.com and EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com 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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