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Church Retirement Plans and Retired Ministers May Be Impacted by District Court's Housing Allowance Ruling
"On Oct. 6, 2017, ... Judge Barbara Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin held that Section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Code Section 107(2) provides that a minister can exclude from gross income a cash housing allowance provided to the minister as pay for services in the exercise of ministry. The ruling, if upheld, would have a significant impact on ministers who have a portion of their salaries designated as housing allowance, as well as their employing churches. Moreover, it would have a significant impact on church retirement plans and retired ministers who designate a portion of their retirement income as housing allowance excludible from taxable income."[Gaylor v. Mnuchin, No. 16-215 (W.D. Wis. Oct. 6, 2017)] (Ice Miller LLP)

[Guidance Overview] New PBGC/Plan Sponsor Pilot Mediation Project for Early Warning Program and Termination Liability Cases
"The Pilot Mediation Project is voluntary and the PBGC will only offer it in certain cases. The PBGC stated that a case will generally not be eligible for the Pilot Mediation Project if [1] the plan sponsor has a minimal ability to pay, [2] there is a pending court proceeding, or [3] there is limited time to act and the plan sponsor has declined to sign a standstill or tolling agreement." (Proskauer's ERISA Practice Center)

[Opinion] The Fallacy of 401(k) Loans
"[E]ven though the stated 401(k) loan interest rate might be 5%, the borrower pays the 5% to themselves, for a net cost of zero. That doesn't mean a 401(k) loan should be considered part of an investment strategy. Indeed, the opportunity cost of not investing the money that would otherwise go into the 401(k), combined with sacrificed tax-deductibility and employer matching, makes it an exceptionally poor investment vehicle. So why do people borrow against their 401(k) plans in the first place?" (Michael Kitces, via Financial Planning)

Digital Nudges: Next Step in Improving Participant Retirement Savings
"Showing participants the tax incentive of saving in their defined contribution (DC) plan resulted in only an ROI of $1.24 in savings per $1 spent.... Showing participants the matching contributions they will receive had a better ROI of $5.59 in savings, and financial education generated an ROI of $14.58 in savings. However, a simple email nudge showing what amount a participant would accumulate over time or the amount they would get if they took action resulted in an ROI of $1,600." (PLANSPONSOR)

[Guidance Overview] Text of PBGC Release 17-7: Pilot Mediation Project Launched to Resolve Certain Termination Liability Collection and Early Warning Program Cases
"PBGC chose Termination Liability Collections cases and Early Warning Program matters for the pilot project as potentially reaping the greatest benefit from mediation.... After one year, PBGC will evaluate the Mediation Pilot's success on multiple metrics, including: Percent of eligible cases opting for mediation, Resolution rate and time to resolution, and Cost savings." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])

IRS Issues Model Amendments for Bifurcated Distribution Options (PDF)
"Plan sponsors may limit the extent that bifurcation is available with respect to a participant's accrued benefit. Other limitations may include the number of forms of distribution among which an accrued benefit may be bifurcated or the combinations of forms of distribution that are made available. The model amendments include language that allow for these limitations." (Prudential)

Consolidation Hitting Third Party Administrators
"The relatively quiet domain of third party administrators is seeing increased consolidation as owners hit retirement age and plan sponsors demand more robust services.... [As] plan sponsors become savvy about the fees they are paying and their own fiduciary responsibilities, they want additional offerings and more choices. Many smaller TPA firms don't have the resources to compete in the marketplace and still make money, which has fueled a major wave of buy-outs." (Employee Benefit News)

Eleventh Circuit Opinion: ERISA's Six-Year Statute of Limitations is Subject to Express Waiver (PDF)
"In particular, this interlocutory appeal requires us to determine whether a defendant is capable of expressly waiving the six-year statute of repose contained in ERISA Section 413(1) -- or whether instead, the protection provided by [that section] is so essential, so fundamental, that it (seemingly almost alone among personal rights) is inherently indefeasible and unwaivable. We won't bury the lede. In response to the district court's certified question, we answer yes -- [that section's] statute of repose is subject to express waiver." [Sec'y, U.S. Dept of Labor v. Preston, No. 17-10833 (11th Cir. Oct. 12, 2017)] (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit)

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Instructions for Form W-12: Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application and Renewal (PDF)
Rev. Oct. 2017. "What's New: ... You will be prompted to submit supporting documentation online. Once you have uploaded your identity proofing documentation, IRS will review it and make a determination.... The address for submitting your application by mail has changed." [Also available: Form W-12, rev. Oct. 2017] (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Disaster Relief Announcement 17-17 in Response to Wildfires in California
"[PBGC] is waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines in response to wildfires that began on October 8, 2017, in California.... The disaster area consists of Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Sonoma and Yuba Counties." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2017-63: Weighted Average Interest Rates, Yield Curves, and Segment Rates Applicable for October 2017 (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])

Cybersecurity Threats: What Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries Need to Know -- and Do (PDF)
"Identify and document who has what responsibilities for strategy implementation within the plan sponsor organization, the fiduciary body, and at third-party service providers ... Entities involved in benefit plan cybersecurity should agree to the frequency and type of testing procedures to be conducted and by whom ... Include ongoing training of staff involved with benefit plans and with direct or indirect access to benefit plan data.... Evaluate service provider controls and security programs ... Determine the level and type of insurance coverage the service provider maintain[.]" (Poyner Spruill LLP, via Journal of Pension Benefits)

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS IR 2017-172: Disaster Relief for Victims of California Wildfires (PDF)
"Currently, the IRS is providing relief to seven California counties: Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Sonoma and Yuba. Individuals and businesses in these localities, as well as firefighters and relief workers who live elsewhere, qualify for the extension. The agency will continue to closely monitor this disaster and may provide other relief to these and other affected localities." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

Loose Language Makes Second-Level Appeal a Right, Not an Obligation
"The plan administrator asserted that the lawsuit was premature because the claimant had not completed the plan's required second-level appeal to the appeals committee and thus had not exhausted her administrative remedies ... The claimant's appeal was made to -- and denied by -- a contracted claims administrator, not the committee. The court concluded that the claimant's suit was permitted because nothing in the plan's communications expressly required second-level appeals or an appeal to the committee. The court's analysis focused on the summary plan description (SPD) and the letter denying the claimant's appeal." [Laura B. v. United Health Group Co., No. 16-1639 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 25, 2017)] (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

[Guidance Overview] Hurricane Relief Legislation for Retirement Plans
"[W]ith the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act, Congress has provided both for hardship distribution tax relief and more generous participant loan rules for participants whose principal abodes were in one of the declared disaster areas for Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria at the time that the respective hurricane hit." (Kilpatrick Townsend)

[Guidance Overview] DOL Publishes Proposed Rule to Delay Implementation of New ERISA Disability Claims Regs
"[Some of the information] the DOL wants to consider ... [1] the number of disability claims that are filed and denial rates for such claims ... [2] how often plans rely on new or additional evidence or rationales during the claims review process ... [3] loss ratios and the breakdown of expenses (claims, sales, claims processing, etc.); [4] aggregate, average, and median benefits paid and ages of claimants; [5] the projected litigation costs associated with the new procedural requirements for disability claims provided in the Final Rule; [6] the number of new claims that will be granted that, but for the provisions in the Final Rule, would have been denied, and the value of those benefits[.]" (Lane Powell PC)

[Guidance Overview] Final Rule on Mortality Tables for Defined Benefit Plans Issued (PDF)
"The final rule generally is applicable for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2018, but also provides a limited one-year transition period (to Jan. 1, 2019), in certain circumstances.... Also released was Revenue Procedure 2017-55, providing instructions to obtain IRS approval of plan-specific mortality tables. Although the final rule is aimed at single-employer DB plans, its mortality assumptions are also used to determine 'current liability' for multiemployer pension plans and cooperative and small employer charity (CSEC) plans." (Milliman)

Employee Benefit Plans: Mistakes and Summary of Available Correction Programs
"Employee benefit and retirement plans are required to comply with a number of complex laws and regulations, and failure to do so can result in significant penalties and/or disqualification of a plan.... Despite best intentions different plan errors can occur. The good news is that there are correction program options available for plan sponsors without sacrificing the qualified status of a plan." (WithumSmith+Brown, PC)

IRS Warns Taxpayers, Tax Pros of New E-Services Scam
"The scam email claims to be from 'e-Services Registration' and uses 'Important Update about Your e-Services Account' in the subject line. It states, in part, 'We are rolling out a new user agreement and all registered users must accept its revised terms to have access to e-Services and its products.' It asks the individual to review and accept the agreement but takes them to a fake site instead." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

Fake Insurance Tax Form Scam Aims at Stealing Data from Tax Pros, Clients
"There may be variations but here's how one scam works: The cybercriminal, impersonating a legitimate cloud-based storage provider, entices a tax professional with a phishing email. The tax professional, thinking they are interacting with the legitimate cloud-based storage provider, provides their email credentials including username and password. With access to the tax professional's account, the cybercriminal steals client email addresses. The cybercriminal then impersonates the tax professional and sends emails to their clients, attaching a fake IRS insurance form and requesting that the form be completed and returned." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Guidance Overview] What to Do -- or Not Do -- with the Disability Claims Rules?
"At this point, it is unclear what, if any, modifications might be considered to the final rules. Because ERISA-governed plans are already required to include adequate claims procedures, following existing procedures should be sufficient during this interim review." (Holland & Hart LLP)

[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Interest Rate Update for Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans, November 2017
"The November 2017 interest assumptions under the benefit payments regulation will be 0.75 percent for the period during which a benefit is in pay status and 4.00 percent during any years preceding the benefit's placement in pay status. In comparison with the interest assumption s in effect for October 2017, these assumptions are unchanged." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])

DOL Is Stepping Up 'Missing Participant' Pension Plan Audits
"Following the success of the Philadelphia pilot program, the initiative is now going national. DOL auditors will monitor plan sponsors' failures to locate and contact missing participants and will treat the failure to do so as a breach of fiduciary duty under [ERISA], which can trigger substantial penalties." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])

[Guidance Overview] Spending Quality Time with Your Pension Plan Actuary
"Employers sponsoring single employer pension plans will see the new mortality tables go into effect first for the 2018 valuation which will probably increase the annual contribution due to be paid to the plan in 2019.... Many plans have been drafted to incorporate by reference the statutorily dictated mortality tables and may not require an amendment to adopt these new mortality tables, but any defined benefit pension plan should be reviewed to determine whether it may require updating in one of the various areas impacted by these new mortality tables." (Winstead PC)

Getting Through the 5500 Season Without Xanax
"Always start to fill out your questionnaires early.... Check every line of your vendor's draft.... Cooperate with your auditor to get the audit finished on time.... Still having problems? Consider a new auditor." (Cohen & Buckmann, P.C.)

Impact of the Fiduciary Rule on Plan Sponsors
"Some of your service providers were not fiduciaries before June 9, but now they are. You need to understand what their new role is, how this changes their services, how it changes their compensation and what new conflicts of interest they may have.... Recommendations to participants about taking a distribution from the plan and rolling it over to an IRA are now fiduciary advice. This requires an advisor to engage in an analytical process before making a recommendation. And this may mean recommending that a terminating employee leave his account in the plan." (Drinker Biddle)

[Guidance Overview] New Law Provides Additional Relief for Hurricane Victims (PDF)
"[W]hile the Act increased the limit on nontaxable loans to $100,000 or 100% of the participant's vested account balance, it did not similarly increase the ERISA loan limit. As a result, a plan loan equal to 100% of a participant's vested account balance would not be considered a taxable distribution but could be a prohibited transaction, if the plan administrator does not obtain additional security for the loan outside the plan." (Prudential)

It Takes a Committee: The Best Ways to Govern DC Plans (PDF)
13 pages. "Plans with higher participant counts were more likely to have separate committees -- administrative and investment -- than smaller plans ... Across committee types, poor participation and clarity around roles corresponded with a higher-than-average number of committee members.... While most committees reported annual or at least periodic fiduciary training, nearly one in seven respondents from single committees noted no fiduciary training had been done." (Callan Associates)

[Guidance Overview] Mortality Table Updates Finalized for 2018 (PDF)
"Although a limited transition rule is available for funding purposes, the updated tables form the basis for the mandatory unisex tables used for minimum lump-sum values and maximum benefits under Code Section 415.... Updated rules for substitute, plan-specific mortality tables have been released and permit the use of tables reflecting partially credible experience for plans that are too small to have fully credible experience." (Conduent)

How to Reduce Your ERISA Risks, and the Role of Fiduciary Liability Insurance (PDF)
28 pages. "[This report provides] an overview of the most prevalent (and serious) types of ERISA claims currently being filed ... discusses a variety of plan-drafting and plan administration measures that plan sponsors and fiduciaries should consider to mitigate litigation exposure ... [and] considers why fiduciary liability insurance should be deemed an integral part of any employee benefits program[.]" (Groom Law Group, for Chubb)

A Tax-Advantaged Way to Distribute Employer Stock from Retirement Plans
"[T]he net unrealized appreciation distribution strategy ... allows for capital gains treatment of any embedded appreciation, rather than having it taxed as ordinary income.... A key requirement here is that the distribution must be considered a lump-sum distribution." (Morningstar Advisor)

DOL Proposes Delaying Implementation of Disability Claim Regs
"There will be a 15-day period for comments on the proposal to extend the applicability date. There will also be a 60-day period to submit 'comments providing data and otherwise germane to the examination of the merits of rescinding, modifying, or retaining the rule' ... Carriers insuring approximately 18 million LTD plan participants estimated that the Final Rule would cause average premium increases of 5% to 8% in 2018, which would be expected to result in an equivalent reduction in covered employees." (Robinson & Cole LLP)

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2017-57: Procedures for Requesting Approval for a Change in DB Plan Funding Method (PDF)
17 pages. "This revenue procedure sets forth the procedure for obtaining approval of the [IRS] for a change in the funding method used for a defined benefit plan ... This revenue procedure also sets forth the procedure for obtaining approval of the IRS to revoke an election relating to interest rates ... The request should generally be made no later than 2-1/2 months following the close of the plan year for which the change is to be effective. Requests made after 2-1/2 months following the close of the plan year generally will not be considered unless the request involves a plan merger.... The information specified in this section 4.03 must accompany the request[.]" (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2017-56: Automatic Approval for Certain Funding Method Changes for Single-Employer DB Plans (PDF)
21 pages. "Section 3 of this revenue procedure provides automatic approval for three asset valuation method changes, automatic approval for two valuation date changes, and automatic approval for one type of change in the treatment of benefits funded through insurance contracts. Section 4 of this revenue procedure provides automatic approval for a change in funding method in special situations in which there is a change in the plan's actuary, actuarial software, or the data elements used in the actuarial valuation, and for fully funded terminating plans. Section 5 of this revenue procedure provides automatic approval for a change in funding method in connection with a plan merger." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Guidance Overview] IRS Finalizes New Mortality Table Rules for Pension Plans (PDF)
"Some in the plan sponsor and actuarial community had argued that the required use of the tables should be delayed to allow plans and plan sponsors more time to adjust. To partially address this concern, the final regulations allow plan sponsors to delay the application of the new tables for one year, but only for funding purposes. This delay option is not available for purposes of calculating the value of lump sum or other distribution options subject to the minimum present value calculations of Code section 417(e) -- the new tables must begin to be used for these purposes in 2018." (Groom Law Group)

[Guidance Overview] Recent IRS Guidance on Curing Missed Loan Payments
"The IRS's conclusion that future payments may be applied to cure previously missed payments is consistent with most practitioners' existing interpretation of IRS regulations. The IRS's conclusion that missed loan repayments could be cured through refinancing was much less certain, since the missed payments are not actually made within the cure period." (Mazursky Constantine LLC)

[Guidance Overview] Bifurcated Distribution Options Made Easier
"[IRS Notice 2017-44] provides model language that plan sponsors may use to calculate a bifurcated distribution option in compliance with the final regulations. The Notice makes clear that plan sponsors are not required to use the model language, so existing plan provisions that appropriately describe bifurcated distributions need not be amended." (Spencer Fane)

Dangerous Fiduciary Assumptions
"[1] Assuming that not being required to have an investment policy statement means you don't need to have an investment policy.... [2] Assuming that all target-date funds are the same.... [3] Assuming that hiring a fiduciary keeps you from being a fiduciary.... [4] Assuming that all expenses associated with a plan can be charged to the plan.... [5] Assuming that the worst-case deadline for depositing participant contributions is the deadline.... [6] Assuming you have to figure it all out on your own." (National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA])

What Issues Should Be Addressed in a Benefits Tech Policy? (PDF)
"The organization's parameters and vetting process for usage of technological tools handling sensitive employee data.... Standards for service providers and tech tools.... Standards for employees establishing and maintaining use of the benefits tech tools.... Cybersecurity insurance requirements.... Plan fiduciary responsibility." (Epstein Becker Green, via Confero)

Improved Mortality Assumptions to Affect Pension Funding Calculations from 2018
"As a result of the new mortality assumptions funding target liabilities are expected to increase by roughly 2-4% while liabilities for PBGC variable rate premium purposes are expected to increase by a slightly larger amount. Any increase in funding liability will increase minimum required contributions -- the Society of Actuaries estimates a cumulative increase of 11% on required contributions." (Russell Investments)

[Official Guidance] Text of DOL Proposed Delay of Effective Date for Claims Procedure Regs for Plans Providing Disability Benefits
"The [DOL] proposes to delay for ninety (90) days -- through April 1, 2018 -- the applicability of the Final Rule amending the claims procedure requirements applicable to ERISA-covered employee benefit plans that provide disability benefits.... The Final Rule currently is scheduled to apply to claims for disability benefits under ERISA-covered employee benefit plans that are filed on or after January 1, 2018.... The [DOL] accordingly seeks public comment on a proposed 90-day delay of the applicability of the Final Rule in order to solicit additional public input and examine regulatory alternatives. If this proposal is finalized, the amendments made on December 19, 2016, would become applicable to claims for disability benefits that are filed after April 1, 2018, rather than January 1, 2018." (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])

Does Your Plan Need an Internal Controls Policy?
"An internal controls policy spells out the procedures plan administrators and recordkeepers will follow to keep the plan in compliance with the huge number of technical rules that must be followed. It isn't designed only to prevent overpayments or penalties but has a broader purpose of ensuring that the plan is run properly." (401kTV)

[Guidance Overview] Treasury Issues Final Rule: Mortality Tables for Defined Benefit Plans
"The Rule will generally result in [1] higher present values in defined benefit plan lump sum distribution calculations, and thus larger cash payouts, and [2] higher minimum funding obligations for employers maintaining single-employer defined benefit plans, as the new mortality tables reflect increased life expectancies for participants and beneficiaries." (Morgan Lewis)

Can a Court Invalidate the Social Security Offset Provision Because Benefits Were 'Wrongfully Denied'?
'[The district court said:] 'Allowing Unum the offset it seeks would still compensate Hart for Unum's wrongful termination of benefits through the age of 65 but not for the reduction of her social security retirement benefits thereafter.' ... The Court awarded prejudgment interest, which is an 'element of compensation, not a penalty.'... There is some authority allowing a court to exercise 'equitable power' to deny offsets, but those cases are distinguishable. " [Hart v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of America, No. 15-5392 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 4, 2017)] (Lane Powell PC)

IRS Reveals FY 2018 Compliance Priorities
"The IRS says planned topics include ... [1] qualification requirements for defined contribution church plans; [2] the application of new regulations regarding qualified nonelective and qualified matching contributions; [3] the availability of single-sum distribution options; [4] the use of all three segment rates to credit interest in a cash balance plan; and [5] the treatment of excess contributions in simplified employee pension (SEP) plans." (PLANSPONSOR)

ERISA Advisory Council to Meet November 7-8
"[An] open meeting of the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (also known as the ERISA Advisory Council) will be held on November 7-8, 2017.... The purpose of the open meeting on November 7 and the morning of November 8 is for the Advisory Council members to finalize the recommendations they will present to the Secretary. At the November 8 afternoon session, the Council members will receive an update from leadership of [EBSA] and present their recommendations." (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])

Using Behavioral Economics to Participants' Advantage
"Use loss aversion to your participants' advantage by stressing what could be gained or lost. Frame communications so participants will clearly understand how they might gain by taking action or lose if they don't take action." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP])

[Guidance Overview] Hurricane Survival Guide for Employee Benefit Plans and Employers (PDF)
"The IRS extended the deadline for certain disaster-area plan sponsors to file their annual returns for employee benefit plans. The DOL also relaxed its enforcement of certain contribution and election deadlines for disaster-area health plans and defined contribution plans. The IRS relaxed the defined contribution plan rules for loans and in-service hardship distributions for certain disaster-area participants. The PBGC extended minimum contributions and premium payments for disaster-area defined benefit plans, but some PBGC filings will not be extended automatically.... [T]he IRS will allow employees to make tax-free leave donations for disaster relief and allow employers to make tax-free disaster relief payments to employees." (McDermott Will & Emery, via Bloomberg Law Pension & Benefits Daily)

[Guidance Overview] Hurricane Legislation Grants Retirement Plan Relief
"Plan sponsors must inform participants of their options under the hurricane relief provisions. IRA and employer plan service providers should evaluate forms, systems, and workflow processes to support qualified hurricane distributions, loan exceptions, and potential repayment and rollovers. For example, the legislation states that the [notice] given to recipients of eligible rollover distributions need not be provided with a hurricane-related distribution but other distribution consent and notice requirements still apply." (Ascensus)

[Guidance Overview] Q&A: Acting for Impaired Railroad Retirement Beneficiaries
"[W]hen physical or mental impairments make a railroad retirement annuitant incapable of properly handling benefit payments, or where the [Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)] determines that the interests of the annuitant so require, the agency can appoint a representative payee to act on the annuitant's behalf.... [These] questions and answers provide information for family members, or others, who may have to act on behalf of an annuitant." (U.S. Railroad Retirement Board)

Blockchain Technology Hits the Retirement Plan Industry
"[S]ome of the largest retirement service companies are trying to tap blockchain technology because of its potential to increase efficiency in record keeping, document sharing, transaction settlements, contract execution, and business collaboration. Blockchain is a real time distributed ledger system where every device in the network has a live copy of the ledger." (Bloomberg BNA)

New Mortality Rates for Defined Benefit Plans Apply in 2018
"Although there was some dissent among the masses regarding the finalization of these rates, the majority of the pension and actuarial community recognized that increased longevity needed to be incorporated in the calculation of liabilities; and ultimately the IRS determined that these rates published by the Society of Actuaries were the best available for this purpose. The published rates include base mortality rates and a mortality improvement scale. The improvement scale will be updated routinely in future years." (Watkins Ross)

The Risk of Overlooking Retirement Plan Loan Defaults
"A Wharton study found that $6 billion in loans default annually, and 86% of loans default when participants lose their jobs and are unable to repay. The majority go on to cash out, and when you factor that in, you're looking at over $20 billion dollars lost each year. But it's largely gone unnoticed because only 8% of loan defaults are separately reported on Form 5500." (George White, via PLANSPONSOR)

[Guidance Overview] 2018 IRS Mortality Tables Finally Released: What Plan Sponsors Need to Know
"2018 minimum funding results and calculation of PBGC premiums will be significantly affected by use of the new tables, with likely increases in the mid-single digits by percentage, depending on a plan's benefit structure and demographics of its participants. PBGC premium calculations are especially sensitive to this because sponsors will be subjected to variable rate premiums of at least $38 per $1,000 of underfunding on a PBGC basis in 2018, unless a plan has already reached the PBGC variable rate premium cap." (Cowden Associates, Inc.)

[Guidance Overview] Disaster Relief Issued for Employee Benefit Plans (PDF)
"[This article] provides an overview of the federal agencies' employee benefit plan-related guidance to date, along with a summary chart. Although the guidance offers relief to those directly in the covered disaster areas, it also applies some relief to retirement plans with participants in other parts of the country with relatives in the disaster areas." (Milliman)

Latinos Seeking Retirement Planning Assistance from Employers
"More than half (71%) of middle-income Hispanics feel they are behind on preparing for retirement as opposed to 63% of the general population ... 63% of Latinos wish their employers would provide a greater degree of education on saving for retirement." (PLANSPONSOR)

[Guidance Overview] DOL Final Regs on Disability Claims Procedures: January 1 Implementation May Be Best Practice
"Despite the pending OMB review, because January 1, 2018, is quickly approaching, ... plan sponsors [should] review their claims procedures, health and welfare plan documents, retirement plan documents, summary plan descriptions (SPDs), disability claims and appeals denial notices, and any other forms and documents containing claims procedure information, and update them to comply with the Final Rule. Although it might be possible to retroactively amend plan documents after January 1, 2018, [the authors] suggest completing any necessary updates by January 1, 2018, to ensure full compliance." (Nixon Peabody LLP)

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2017-55: Procedures for Plan Sponsor to Request Approval for Use of Plan-Specific Substitute Mortality Tables (PDF)
24 pages. "This revenue procedure sets forth the procedure by which the sponsor of a defined benefit plan that is subject to the funding requirements of Section 430 of the Internal Revenue Code may request approval from the [IRS] for the use of plan-specific substitute mortality tables in accordance with Section 430(h)(3)(C) and Section 1.430(h)(3)-2 of the Treasury Regulations.... A request for approval to use substitute mortality tables for a plan that would first apply for a plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2018, must satisfy the requirements of the 2017 regulations and this revenue procedure." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Final Regs: Mortality Tables for Determining Present Value Under Defined Benefit Pension Plans
83 pages. "This document contains final regulations prescribing mortality tables to be used by most defined benefit pension plans.... This information is used ... for purposes of determining the minimum funding requirements for a defined benefit plan. These mortality tables are also relevant in determining the minimum required amount of a lump-sum distribution from such a plan. In addition, this document contains final regulations updating the requirements that a plan sponsor must meet to obtain IRS approval to use mortality tables specific to the plan for minimum funding purposes (instead of using the generally applicable mortality tables)." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2017-60: Updated Static Mortality Tables for Defined Benefit Pension Plans for 2018 (PDF)
"This notice sets forth the mortality table that is used for purposes of determining minimum present value under Section 417(e)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and section 205(g)(3) of [ERISA] ... for distributions with annuity starting dates that occur during stability periods beginning in the 2018 calendar year. This mortality table is a modified unisex version of the mortality tables specified under Section 430(h)(3)(A) of the Code, which have been revised pursuant to Section 430(h)(3)(B) by T.D. 9826, for plan years beginning in 2018. This notice also provides updated static mortality tables determined using the methodology in Section 1.430(h)(3)-1 prior to its amendment by T.D. 9826. These updated static mortality tables apply for plan years beginning during 2017 with respect to valuation dates occurring during 2018." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])