Retirement Plans Newsletter

BULLETIN
May 21, 2020

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[Official Guidance]

Text of DOL Final Regs: Default Electronic Disclosure by Employee Pension Benefit Plans under ERISA

124 pages. "The [DOL] is adopting in this document a new, additional safe harbor for employee benefit plan administrators to use electronic media, as a default, to furnish information to participants and beneficiaries of plans subject to [ERISA]. The rule allows plan administrators who satisfy specified conditions to provide participants and beneficiaries with a notice that certain disclosures will be made available on a website, or to furnish disclosures via email. Individuals who prefer to receive disclosures on paper can request paper copies of disclosures and opt out of electronic delivery entirely. The Department expects the rule to enhance the effectiveness of ERISA disclosures and significantly reduce the costs and burden associated with furnishing many of the recurring and most costly disclosures. In addition to benefiting workers, this rule will immediately assist employers and the retirement plan industry as they face a number of economic challenges due to the COVID-19 emergency, including logistical and other impediments to compliance with ERISA's disclosure requirements....

"The new safe harbor is an additional method of delivery and does not substantively change the 2002 safe harbor. Plan administrators, therefore, have additional flexibility with the rule in selecting the electronic delivery method that works best for the plan and its participants and beneficiaries. Plan administrators who wish to continue to rely on the 2002 safe harbor for electronic delivery, or to furnish paper documents by hand-delivery or by mail, can continue doing so....

"The final rule adopted today is fundamentally similar to the proposed rule, although modifications were made to reflect a variety of comments from affected parties. As in the proposal, the final rule establishes a safe harbor for compliance with ERISA’s general standard for delivery of disclosures to participants and beneficiaries.... The safe harbor applies only to 'covered individuals' and only with respect to 'covered documents.' Over 10 years, the new safe harbor will save plans approximately $3.2 billion net, annualized to $349 million per year (using a 3 percent discount rate)."

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

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