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Webcasts, Conferences

2020 NCEO Employee Ownership Conference
National Center for Employee Ownership [NCEO]

COVID-19 DOL, IRS & PBGC Guidance Update for Retirement Plans
May 5, 2020 WEBCAST
Groom Law Group

CARES Act: Implications for Retirement Security of American Workers
June 29, 2020 WEBCAST
EBRI [Employee Benefit Research Institute]

The New Landscape: COVID-19's Impact on Defined Benefit Plans
June 30, 2020 WEBCAST
EBRI [Employee Benefit Research Institute]

Financial Wellness in Times of Crisis
July 2, 2020 WEBCAST
EBRI [Employee Benefit Research Institute]

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View Coronavirus (COVID-19) News and Resources

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Gives Retirement Plans and Participants Pandemic Relief

"Notice 2020-01 grants plan sponsors and service providers extra time to provide required notices and disclosures -- including the annual funding notice for defined benefit plans, which would have been due April 29 for calendar-year plans -- and to complete certain other plan-related actions. The notice also provides relief from ERISA's plan loan requirements for loans issued or suspended under the [CARES Act]. A final rule issued jointly with the Treasury Department gives participants and beneficiaries additional time to file benefit claims and appeal adverse benefit determinations."


Plan Sponsors Should Consider Both Near- and Long-term Issues Before Implementing CARES Act Loan and Distribution Provisions

"These new options are not mandatory -- each plan sponsor must decide for itself whether to adopt the new loan or distribution provisions based on its own situation and the needs of its own workforce. There are a number of factors plan sponsors should consider in addition to the short-term financial needs of their employees, including whether participants are likely to default on loans in the future, which may result in new tax penalties, and the likelihood that defaulted loans and distributions will permanently destroy hard-earned retirement savings."

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Editor's Pick Amid COVID-19, More Employers Are Easing Access to 401(k) Assets Than Cutting Matching Contributions

"Almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) increased access to in-service distributions from participants' 401(k) accounts while 16% either plan to or are considering doing so this year. Nearly as many (64%) are now allowing participants to defer loan repayments while 48% increased the maximum amount available for plan loans. Another 17% are planning or considering making either adjustment this year.... Just 12% of employers suspended their matching contributions, but 23% are either planning to or considering doing so this year."

Willis Towers Watson

Federal District Court Dismisses Claim for Injunctive Relief and ERISA Causes of Action Against Trader Joe's

"The court held that, because plaintiffs are former employees of Trader Joe's, they are not permitted to seek injunctive relief, stressing that former plan participants are not 'realistically threatened' by any potential future violations of ERISA. The case also illustrates that plaintiffs cannot fuel ERISA litigation on speculation in the hopes of finding documents in defendants' possession to support the claim." [Marks v. Trader Joe's Co., No. 19-10942 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 24, 2020)]

Holland & Knight

University of Miami Sued Over Plan Fees

"The participants, who seek class-action status, said the university's 403(b) plan is both inefficient and expensive because it has six record keepers. This system 'has caused plan participants to pay and continue to pay duplicative, excessive and unreasonable fees for plan record keeping and administrative services,' the lawsuit said." [Santiago v. Univ. of Miami, No. 20-21784 (S.D. Fla. complaint filed Apr. 29, 2020)]

Pensions & Investments

Recordkeepers Respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic

"[R]ecordkeepers can help guide participants through their options via information hubs, press releases, leadership guidance and notifications on both sides of the login. Firms should ensure participants understand that retirement is a long-term investment and ultimately help participants stay on track toward their goals.... About 80% of firms introduced public information hubs that centralize access to blog posts, FAQs, educational content, self-service tools and other helpful resources."

Corporate Insight

Steep Drop in Discount Rate Pushes Up DB Liabilities in 2019

"A large drop in the discount rate for the 100 largest U.S. corporate defined benefit plans contributed to an 11.31% increase in liabilities in 2019 ... The discount rate fell 95 basis points to an aggregate average 3.3% among the 100 plans. On the asset side, the plans in P&I's universe saw a 15.9% average return, with aggregate assets increasing 12.1% to $1.304 trillion at the end of 2019. Overall, the aggregate average funding ratio dropped to 87.8% in 2019 from 90.1% a year earlier."

Pensions & Investments


Pension Rights Center Letter to Treasury Department Urging Limitations on Effective Waiver of DB Plan Spousal Consent Requirements During Pandemic (PDF)

"[T]he temporary nature of the lockdown that is preventing physical presence, the fact that such a decision is being made during a time of financial stress, the heightened risks of fraud and coercion when the physical presence requirement is not met, and the lifelong, irreversible consequences of cashing out a pension annuity for both spouses, together argue for a substantial but temporary limitation on lump sum distributions from DB plans. Businesses, including notaries, will gradually reopen within a few months, and if a couple wishes to take more or even all of their DB benefit in the form of a lump sum at that time, they will be able to comply with the physical presence requirement and do so."

Pension Rights Center

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

New Rules Provide for Extensions of Benefit Plan Compliance Deadlines

"[P]lan sponsors will need to closely track dates on which certain notices and events have occurred. They will then need to 'keep open' the relevant period, which could require changes to software or systems and require HR departments to closely track these dates.... [T]he DOL will not assert an ERISA violation for the increased loan amounts available under the CARES Act. Some commentators have worried about the 'adequate security' and 'reasonably equivalent basis' rules for the increased loan limits. However, these rules will not be enforced for loans available under the CARES Act."

Husch Blackwell

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Provides Sweeping Deadline Extensions and Other Relief for Plans, Participants and Beneficiaries

"The relief is retroactive to March 1, 2020 and will apply until 60 days after the announced end of the national emergency ... To the extent the emergency ends on different dates for different parts of the country, the DOL will issue additional guidance regarding the application of the relief to those areas. The guidance effectively tolls the deadlines for various actions until after the Outbreak Period End Date."

Ropes & Gray LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick Mandatory Extensions of Certain HIPAA, COBRA and Claims Deadlines, in Chart Format (PDF)

"[EBSA and the IRS] have provided relief to certain plan participants, which plan sponsors and administrators will be required to implement. Essentially, the plan must disregard the coronavirus 'Outbreak Period' when it is calculating certain plan deadlines.... [A] chart describes how this extension works for several of the deadlines."

Poyner Spruill LLP

Editor's Pick Society of Actuaries Research Brief: Impact of COVID-19 on Health Insurers, Retirement Plans and More (PDF)

78 pages; updated May 1, 2020. "A confluence of risks has come together. Operational and financial risks have emerged, compounding the current situation. Actuaries will be watching for any additional risk events that layer on to the current environment, especially ones that may cause additional property, mortality and health risks such as catastrophic weather events."

Society of Actuaries

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Ability of a 403(b) Plan to Be Sponsored by Fewer Than All Employers in a Controlled Group

"Employer A sponsors a 403(b). Immediate eligibility. Also makes a fixed match contribution. Employer A will fully own a new entity, Employer B, which will provide the same benefits as are provided to Employer A employees, with the exception of a 403(b) plan. Whether the employees are paid under Employer A's EIN or the Employer B's EIN, can this group be excluded? Or does the universal availability supersede the ability to exclude a group of employees?"

BenefitsLink Message Boards

DB Plan Distress Termination -- What to Expect Nowadays?

"I have a small non-profit client. They have a DB plan. They're now out of business -- done, kaput. They were about one year away from being fully funded to the plan termination liability, but with the market drop and the lockdown, there will be no more contributions and the plan is underfunded so they will need to file a PBGC distress termination. Any recent experiences with distress terminations?"

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Press Releases

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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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