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April 16, 2020 logo logo
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View Coronavirus (COVID-19) News and Resources
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[Official Guidance]

Text of FRTIB Interim Rule: Temporary Waiver of Notarization Requirement for Spousal Consent

"In light of emergency stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders issued all over the country, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) is temporarily waiving the requirement to notarize a spouse's signature on withdrawal election forms. DATES: This interim rule is effective [on the date published in the Federal Register (currently scheduled for April 17)] and shall remain effective until withdrawn."

Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board [FRTIB]


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[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Notice 2020-27: Weighted Average Interest Rates, Yield Curves, and Segment Rates for April 2020 (PDF)

"This notice provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates used under Section 417(e)(3), and the 24-month average segment rates under Section 430(h)(2) ... In addition, this notice provides guidance as to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury securities under Section 417(e)(3)(A)(ii)(II) as in effect for plan years beginning before 2008 and the 30-year Treasury weighted average rate under Section 431(c)(6)(E)(ii)(I)."

Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Guidance Overview]

CARES Act Q&A for Retirement Plan Sponsors (PDF)

"What relief can we give to our retirement plan participants? ... Are all participants eligible for this relief? ... Are we required to grant this relief? ... What should we consider in deciding whether to grant this relief? ... Will we need to amend our plan and notify our participants? ... What additional relief is available to sponsors of defined benefit plans?"

Morrison Cohen LLP

[Guidance Overview]

CARES Act Brings Immediate Changes for 401(k) Plans

"Plan amendments are not required until the end of the 2022 plan year ... provided that the plan is operated in accordance with the terms.... As many participants are in need of funds, decisions may need to be made rather quickly by plan sponsors. Some recordkeepers are trying to facilitate participant needs with a type of negative election, so plan sponsors need to be on the look-out for these materials and understand their role in administrating these provisions."

Groom Law Group

[Guidance Overview]

PBGC Extends Deadlines

"To take advantage of this relief, the plan sponsor or administrator must notify the PBGC of its eligibility for disaster relief on or before the last day of the IRS relief period (July 15, 2020).... For premium filings, notice to the PBGC must be made when submitting the Comprehensive Premium Filing."


[Guidance Overview]

Federal Agencies Postpone Deadlines for Employee Benefit Plan Matters

"[1] Plan loan repayments ... [2] Form 5500 filings ... [3] Sec. 83(b) elections ... [4] Refunding excess elective deferrals ... [5] Sixty-day rollover period ... [6] ESOP put options ... [7] Section 1042 transactions and qualified replacement property ... [8] Withdrawals from eligible automatic contribution arrangements (EACAs) ... [9] Extended deadline for the initial remedial amendment period ... [10] Extended deadline for PBGC premiums."

Ballard Spahr LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick Delving Into CARES Act Relief for Retirement Plan Participants

"The act makes clear that plan administrators can rely on a participant's self-certification of eligibility for relief (although administrators shouldn't rely on a participant's self-certification if they have knowledge to the contrary). The act doesn't require written certification, so participants apparently can certify their eligibility over the phone.... The act does not state that an employee is a qualified individual if the employee's spouse experiences any of the adverse financial consequences ... Whether Congress intended this omission is unclear."


[Guidance Overview]

Questions About CARES Act Distributions and Plan Loans

"[1] Do the CARES Act COVID-19 distribution provisions apply to money purchase plans? ... [2] Do the CARES Act COVID-19 distribution provisions apply to 457(b) plans? ... [3] Is it true that if I experience a reduction in work hours due to COVID-19, I can qualify for a COVID-19 distribution, but if I experience a reduction in salary, I don't?  ... [4] If the plan permits COVID-19 distributions and loans, and a plan participant self-certifies that he/she has a valid COVID-19 reason to take advantage of the expanded distribution/loan provisions, what happens if the plan sponsor has knowledge that is contrary to the certification? ... [5] What happens to a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) that was taken prior to the enactment of the CARES Act?"

Cammack Retirement Group

One-Fifth of Large Retirement Plan Sponsors Say They Are Suspending 401(k) Matches

"21.7 percent of sponsors with 1,000 or more participants in their retirement plans have either suspended or are considering suspending employer matches to those plans. That is roughly in line with the number of large plans that suspended matches in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis ... So far, plan termination is not being considered among large sponsors, but smaller employers indicated the most dramatic of plan amendments -- ending the plan -- is on the table. More than 6 percent of sponsors with less than 1,000 participants said the termination option is being considered. But it is not yet clear whether they will terminate."

Treasury & Risk; free registration required

Retirees: Should You Defer Commencement of Your Social Security Benefits?

"The subject of when to commence Social Security benefits ... has received attention in the media recently as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and associated layoffs.... Instead of asking you to simply rely on 'conventional wisdom' which generally supports deferral until age 70, this post will actually look at some of the math involved ... and it will also address some of the other factors that you might consider if you are trying to decide whether to commence your Social Security benefits now or later."

Ken Steiner, FSA Retired

CARES Act RMD Suspension Has No Effect on an Already-Annuitized Distribution

"The suspension of 2020 RMDs comes from [the CARES Act].... The annuity payments obligations are based the annuity contract terms. Once the contract is annuitized the payments cannot be modified. Thus, while periodic RMD payments from an annuity could be suspended for 2020, if the client annuitized the contract -- no change to the payments is permitted."

Retirement Learning Center, LLC

The Emerging Patchwork of Fiduciary Investment Advice Regulation

"This most recent version of the chart is updated to reflect the Massachusetts' final fiduciary regulation and the NAIC's updated Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation."

Eversheds Sutherland

Another University 403(b) Excessive Fee Suit Settles

"Approximately 20 of these suits have been filed since 2016 -- this would be the seventh settlement. This time the defendants is Princeton University ... following a successful motion for a stay in the proceedings in December 2017 -- the parties have apparently come to terms.... St. Louis-based Washington University, New York University and Northwestern University have thus far prevailed in making their cases in court."

American Retirement Association [ARA]

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick COVID-19 and Employee Benefit Plans: An Action List for Employers (PDF)

"[The authors] have created a checklist of issues to consider and possible actions to take. [which] is current as of April 10, 2020 ... [It includes] questions ... as well as ... items that may need prompt action by employers with respect to their employee benefit plans."

Boutwell Fay LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick Action Steps for Your Employee Benefit Plans During the Coronavirus Pandemic

15 presentation slides. Retirement Plans: [1] Overview of CARES Act changes; [2] $100,000 question -- options for coronavirus-related distributions & loans; [3] Cost containment -- options to change contribution levels; [4] Suspension of RMDs for 2020; [5] Treatment of leaves, layoffs & furloughs; [6] Tax & amendment deadlines. Health & Welfare Plans: [1] Continuing health benefits during furlough; [2] Health and welfare plan considerations; [3] Resources for employers.

Quarles & Brady LLP

[Guidance Overview]

IRS and PBGC Extend Deadlines Due to COVID-19

"Plan administrators, sponsors, and counsel should review the deadline extensions provided by the IRS and the PBGC and understand how they interact with the extensions already provided by the CARES Act. They should also make sure to communicate the revised deadlines to affected individuals (for example, recipients of restricted stock). The retirement plan loan repayment deadline postponement, as well as the 60-day rollover deadline postponement, are particularly relevant for retirement plan administrators."

Thomson Reuters Practical Law

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

[Guidance Overview]

Executive Compensation Limits Under Certain CARES Act Loans

"Some questions to consider include: [1] What is a 'financial benefit' and how should it be valued? [2] Can certain types of compensation be excluded? [3] When are equity awards and deferred compensation considered to be received? [4] How should employees hired during 2019 and 2020 be treated? [5] What if the officer or employee has an employment agreement for compensation over these limits?"

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

Editor's Pick COVID-19: Stock Option Repricing Considerations During the Pandemic

"Stock option repricings take many forms and entail many issues and considerations, including: [1] Shareholder approval requirements under exchange listing rules; [2] Guidelines from institutional investors and proxy advisory firms; [3] Incremental accounting charges under Accounting Standard Certification (ASC) Topic 718; [4] Self-tender offer rules under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ... [5] Registration and exemption rules under the Securities Act of 1933 ... [6] Tax implications under the Internal Revenue Code  ... and [7] Analogous state laws."

K&L Gates

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

CARES Act Loan Provisions -- Some Troubling Ambiguities

"The CARES Act provision for COVID-19 distributions is different from the provision liberalizing the loan rules. The provision for distributions merely describes what a plan can do and not violate the qualification rules, as well as the tax treatment for the participant of COVID-19 distrributions. Clearly, the employer must implement the distribution provisions through an amendment or through a policy change eventually backfilled by an amendment in order for the distribution provisions to apply to a participant. However, the CARES Act loan provision regarding the 1-year payment extension (Section 2002(b)(2) of CARES Act) can be read as a command regarding the administration of a loan." [Additional text omitted -- see original post for more.]

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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2020, 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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