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Prior to Distribution, ESOP Lacked 'Actual Knowledge' of Participant's Developmental Disability
"An ESOP plan administrator did not violate plan terms when it distributed about $80,000 to a developmentally disabled former employee who had been adjudged in state court to be legally incompetent ... Delivery of conservatorship papers regarding the employee's incompetency to the grocery store where he worked was insufficient to provide the plan administrator with the 'actual knowledge' of the worker's legal incompetency required by the plan." [Bauman v. Publix Super Markets, Inc. Employee Stock Ownership Plan, No. 17-11709 (11th Cir. Oct. 10, 2017)] (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

[Guidance Overview] Going Up But Never Down: 2018 ERISA Penalties
"The [DOL] announced increased penalties for employee benefit plans under ERISA. The increases generally apply to penalties that involve employee benefit reporting and disclosure failings if the penalty is assessed after January 2, 2018, and if the violation occurred after November 2, 2015. [A chart outlines] the ERISA penalty amounts assessed for violations on or before January 2, 2018, and those amounts assessed after January 2." (McDermott Will & Emery)

How to Respond to DOL Pension Plan Investigatory Findings
"[T]he DOL has provided no generally applicable guidance on the fiduciary responsibility to maintain pristine records or outline the scope of a fiduciary's obligations to resolve discrepancies. Instead, the DOL now appears to be using the threat of enforcement action, based on ad hoc, unarticulated, and conclusory standards, to coerce individual plan administrators to adopt procedures -- and most likely, achieve results -- that are subjectively satisfactory to the DOL." (Morgan Lewis)

New Tax Law Creates Uncertainty for Some Hardship Distributions
"One option is to deny a hardship request for repair to a primary residence if the loss occurs on or after January 1, 2018 and is outside of a federally declared disaster area. To account for this change, a plan may need to modify the instructions provided as part of hardship request materials as well as the guidelines used for reviewing and approving hardship requests. Alternatively, a plan could opt to ignore the section 165 amendment -- and maintain the status quo -- when determining hardship eligibility, unless and until the IRS issues guidance to the contrary." (Conduent)

[Guidance Overview] New DOL Regs Require Changes to Plan Claims Procedures
"One could avoid dealing with the new regulations by referencing a third-party determination of disability, such as a determination by the Social Security Administration. The practical problems with that approach are that the Social Security Administration can take a long time to determine that a disability exists, and the SSA definition may be a more restrictive definition of disability, which could raise employee relations concerns. Also, in the qualified retirement plan area, a more restrictive definition may result in an impermissible cut-back of an accrued benefit, such as where a retirement subsidy attaches to a finding of a disability." (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)

Are Your Plan Files Complete? What an Auditor Will Want to See
"Make sure that your plan document and amendments are signed and dated. If the corporate practice is to adopt these by resolution instead of an officer's or committee member's signature, attach a certified copy of the resolution to the document.... Each year, fiduciaries need to review their bonding coverage and determine whether the amount of coverage required has increased." (Cohen & Buckmann, P.C.)

Q&A: Retirement Plans and Cybersecurity
"Who are the targets for cyber predators and how is the current environment conducive to attacking those parties? ... If plan sponsors or recordkeepers are required to authenticate participant accounts, why are cyber predators still able to gain access to those accounts? ... What strategies can be used by plan sponsors or recordkeepers for more effective authentication and overall security? ... Besides changes to authentication, what else should plan sponsors and recordkeepers be doing to prevent cyber predators from gaining access to participant accounts? ... Why should plan sponsors be pay attention to all of this?" (Thomson Reuters Practical Law)

Budget Bill Affects Retirement Plans and Retirees -- Plan Amendments Expected
"[T]he Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 ... provides expanded tax relief for victims of natural disasters, relaxes the rules for hardship distributions from employer plans, makes slight changes to portability rules, and requires the IRS to create a simplified tax return for filers age 65 or older." (Ascensus)

[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Interest Rate Update for Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans, March 2018
"The March 2018 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 assumptions in effect for February 2018, these assumptions are unchanged." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])

[Guidance Overview] Budget Deal Includes Retirement Plan Changes (PDF)
"[1] Hardship distribution rules eased (in 2019): Six month delay no longer required after hardship distributions ... Sources for hardship distributions are expanded ... No requirement to borrow before a hardship distribution ... Amendments will be required ... [2] More retirement plan relief for natural disasters ... [T]he area affected, the specific relief allowed, and applicable dates ... vary based on when the disaster occurred.... Relief is immediately effective, and amendments can be made later.... [3] Relief after IRA retirement plan levies ... [4] Joint Select Committee on solvency of multiemployer pension plans." (Chimento & Webb, P.C.)

2017 in Review: ERISA Guidance and Enforcement (PDF)
11 pages. "In 2017, the principal focus in the administration of [ERISA] by the [DOL] appropriately remained one of the extraordinary developments under DOL's new fiduciary definition and related exemptions (Fiduciary Rule). DOL's regular program of issuing advance guidance and enforcing the statute continued in a more conventional manner as well ... The regulatory guidance plans under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code, as they relate to employee benefits and executive compensation, were also recently updated." (Eversheds Sutherland)

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2018-16: Weighted Average Interest Rates, Yield Curves, and Segment Rates Applicable for February 2018 (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] Impact of Recent Legislation on 401(k) Hardship Withdrawals
"When a plan document specifically cross references deductibility under Section 165, permitting a withdrawal for expenses that result from an isolated incident could now be contrary to the plan's terms.... It isn't clear whether Congress intended to narrow the circumstances in which a hardship withdrawal may be taken when enacting the change to Section 165, and it's possible that the IRS will publish guidance obviating the need to impose the Federally-declared disaster requirement in the hardship context." (Mayer Brown)

[Guidance Overview] Budget Act Contains Retirement Plan Changes
"The current rules have the dual effect of reducing the amount available to a participant who has suffered a hardship, as well as complicating recordkeeping by requiring that a plan keep track of the 'principal' deferrals made by participants. The new rules resolve both issues.... There is no rush to change plans and procedures: all of these provisions go into effect for plan years beginning January 1, 2019, and later." (Ferenczy Benefits Law Center)

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Eliminating Unnecessary Tax Regulations
67 pages. "This notice ... proposes to streamline IRS regulations by removing 298 regulations that are no longer necessary because they do not have any current or future applicability under the Internal Revenue Code and by amending 79 regulations to reflect the proposed removal of the 298 regulations.... Written or electronic comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by May 14, 2018." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Guidance Overview] 401(k) Hardship and Retirement Plan Rollover Rules Modified By the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 with Rapid Effective Dates
"The hardship withdrawal modifications that are to be made will apply to plan years after December 31, 2018 and will also require modifications to most 401(k) plan documents.... [The] modification to the levy provision now permits the individual to rollover the amount returned ... any time up to the due date (without any extension) for the individual to file the tax return for the year in which such property or money seized was returned. It also permits the interest on the amount returned from the seizure to be eligible to be rolled over." (Winstead PC)

Budget Proposal Seeks Hike in Multiemployer PBGC Premiums
"Aimed at improving the [PBGC] multiemployer program's finances, the proposal would raise $16 billion over the 10-year budget window, with the agency's current $32 billion deficit wiped out by fiscal year 2020." (Pensions & Investments)

An Annual Retirement Plan 'Check-Up' May Be Just What the Doctor Ordered!
"Some common mistakes to check for during any review of your retirement plans include: [1] failing to timely enroll eligible employees in the plan or inadvertently allowing ineligible individuals to participate in the plan; [2] using incorrect elements of 'compensation' under the plan when determining deferral amounts or employer contributions; [3] incorrectly calculating a participant's hours or years of service under the plan; [4] failing to timely deposit employee deferrals or employer contributions; [5] failing to provide employees necessary notices and plan information; [6] improperly administering plan loan repayments; and [7] failing to satisfy IRS maximum contribution limits." (Foley & Lardner LLP)

[Guidance Overview] Liberalized Hardship Withdrawals and California Wildfire Relief in Budget Act
"The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which President Trump signed into law [February 9], makes several changes affecting retirement plans.... [E]limination of six-month suspension following hardship withdrawals.... Elimination of requirement to take available loans before a hardship withdrawal.... Expansion of amounts available for hardship withdrawals.... Participants affected by recent wildfires in California [have] greater access to retirement funds.... Tax-favored withdrawals.... Repayment for home purchases.... Loan relief.... Extended amendment deadline." (Mazursky Constantine LLC)

[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Notice of Modified Systems of Records; Rescinded System of Records; System of Records.
94 pages. "[The PBGC] proposes the following changes to its system of records notices to: amend a general routine use, rescind a duplicative system of records, establish a new system of records for collection of data from the agency website, add or amend routine uses in ten systems of records, make clarifying changes to all nineteen systems of records notices, and republish all existing systems of records notices. The PBGC determined that the proposed changes were necessary after conducting the biennial review of its systems of records notices." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])

Best Practices: 401(k) Loan Policy
"Educate employees about the implications of a loan ... Implement service fees ... Don't appear to advocate borrowing ... Discourage savings interruptions ... Make repayment easy ... Don't rule out loans altogether ... Consider limiting loans to specific purposes." (ForUsAll)

Plan Limitations Period That Was Not Disclosed in Benefit Denial Letter Is Unenforceable
"The court observed that although the Fourth Circuit has not decided this question, the First, Third, and Sixth Circuits have concluded that a benefit denial must state a plan-imposed time limit for filing suit in order for the limit to be enforced against a participant[.]" [Starnes v. Universal Fidelity Administrators Co., No. 17-3073 (D.S.C. Feb. 5, 2018)] (Thomson Reuters Practical Law)

The Educated Fiduciary: How to Up Your Game
"Read at least one newsletter regularly.... Schedule an on-site fiduciary training session.... Subscribe to blogs.... Sign up for webinars.... Attend a formal education program.... Familiarize yourself with materials on the DOL's website.... Develop written policies with your advisers.... Prepare a checklist of things to do each year.... Read up on your own." (Cohen & Buckmann, P.C.)

Seventh Circuit: ERISA Does Not Preempt State 'Slayer Statute'
"The wife argued that she was the designated beneficiary under the pension plan and that ERISA preempted the Illinois slayer statute. The estate argued that ERISA did not preempt the Illinois slayer statute, that the statute precluded distribution to the slayer-spouse and that the couple's minor child should receive the pension benefits of the deceased participant. The district court awarded benefits to the estate. The Seventh Circuit affirmed[.]" [Laborers' Pension Fund v. Miscevic, No. 17-2022 (7th Cir. Jan. 29, 2018)] (Benefits Bryan Cave)

Two-Year Budget Deal Will Impact Employer Plans
"In addition to a next step for multiemployer plan funding problems and relief for plan distributions aimed at supporting individuals affected by the late 2017 California wildfires, the Budget Act includes some provisions from the House tax bill last year that had been omitted from the final agreement." (Conduent)

Budget Brings Pension and Health Care Relief (PDF)
"The bill includes some helpful relief for plan sponsors and participants of qualified plans: [1] Expanded hardship relief.... [2] California wildfire relief.... [3] Relief for improper federal tax levy.... [4] Joint Select Committee on multiemployer plans.... [The bill] makes no changes to the [ACA] tax provisions nor does it include provisions related to market stabilization. It does, however, make keys changes to Medicare and provide funding for a number of popular domestic health programs." (Groom Law Group)

Budget Act Includes Qualified Retirement Plan Provisions
"The Budget Act allows participants in qualified retirement plans who were affected by the California wildfires to take benefit distributions ... and prescribes changes to the rules on taking hardship distributions ... The Budget Act also provides relief for some participants whose qualified plan accounts were distributed in connection with a wrongful IRS levy, and calls for Congress to form a bipartisan, bicameral committee to hold hearings and propose legislative changes to address solvency concerns with multiemployer pension plans and the [PBGC]." (Kilpatrick Townsend)

[Guidance Overview] No Further Delays for Enhanced Disability Claims Procedures
"For plans where the administrator will retain the discretion to make disability determinations, the plan sponsor should, prior to April 1, [1] ensure that plan administrators and benefits staff are aware of, and will follow, the new rules in practice; [2] update plan documents and SPDs to reflect the new procedures; and [3] update ABD letters, disability claims forms, communications, notices, company intranet, and employee handbooks[.]" (McCarter & English)

2018 Key Administrative Dates and Deadlines for Calendar-Year Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)
This four-page chart includes a descriptive list of the 'key' administrative dates and deadlines for calendar-year defined contribution plans regulated by ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. (Milliman)

2017 Pension Plan Report Card
"The major legislative event was tax reform.... With the passage of tax reform, companies will want to analyze the impact of making additional contributions to their plans and receiving higher deductions. Generally, contributions made by September 15, 2018 can be counted for the 2017 plan year and included on the sponsor's 2017 tax filing. With the highest corporate rate dropping from 35% to 21% the cost of each $100,000 of contribution increases $14,000 after the 2017 tax year." (P-Solve LLC)

Don't Make These 'Rookie Mistakes' When Calculating Service!
"Failing to understand the concept of 'once in, always in' ... Confusing 'break in service' with 'termination of employment' ... Using the wrong eligibility computation period to calculate years of service/breaks in service." (Cammack Retirement Group)

Making Sure 401(k) and 403(b) Fees Are 'Necessary' and 'Reasonable'
"[C]ontact at least six firms ... [Y]ou are held to the standard of an expert in matters of plan management. If you don't have the resources to run an RFP ... find an independent consultant who can do it for you.... Unless you are using an integrated RFP platform to issue your request, to receive and aggregate information and to perform your analysis, you will want to allow about four [4] weeks from the date you issue the RFP to the date responses are due." (Fiduciary Plan Governance, LLC)

Tax Bill Affects ERISA Settlements
"Any settlement of employment litigation should take account of taxes... The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ... makes a number of changes ... The after-tax cost to defendants of a settlement has gone up. The 2018 corporate tax rate drops to 21 percent from generally 35 percent in 2017 ... If a corporate defendant settles for $100,000 in 2017, that will cost a net $65,000 after taxes. But if that settlement is made in 2018, it will cost the defendant $79,000 after taxes because the deduction saves fewer taxes." (Bob Blum Mediation)

[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Submission to OMB and Public Comment Request: Termination of Single-Employer Plans, Missing Participants
"The missing participant forms and instructions under this information collection are applicable only to plans that terminated on or before December 31, 2017.... PBGC is proposing to provide that the plan administrator of a plan terminating in a standard termination, or a distress termination that closes out in the private sector, may submit termination forms electronically (scanned and emailed or faxed), rather than by mail or personal delivery only.... [F]or distress termination filings, PBGC is proposing to include an invitation for plan sponsors to contact PBGC for a pre-filing consultation to discuss the filing process and ensure the filing of a distress termination is appropriate given the sponsor's specific circumstances." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])

What Is Driving Strong M&A Activity in the Benefit Brokerage Market?
"After a record year of mergers and acquisitions in the employee benefits sector, industry observers expect 2018 to be another great year for deals ... Some cite a strong economy and the desire of smaller benefit firms to band together in a market that remains complex, while others point to the recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act." (Employee Benefit Adviser)

DC Participants with 401(k)s and HSAs Have Higher Savings Rates for 401(k) and Overall
"[P]articipants using a 401(k) plan in conjunction with an HSA had an average 401(k) savings rate of 8.9% plus another 2.9% for the HSA. By contrast, the savings rate for 401(k)-only participants was 6.8%." (Pensions & Investments)

401(k) Plan Documents: Keeping All Your Ducks in a Row
"[A table describes] several important documents that are smart to keep handy, either in the event of an audit, or to reference during the ongoing administration of the 401(k)." (ForUsAll)

[Guidance Overview] Potential 'Gotchas' with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
"[The Act] narrows the ability to obtain a hardship distribution for a casualty loss.... [Employers] should check with their record keepers to ensure that they are aware of and prepared to administer the new rule.... [T]ax-exempt employers will be subject to unrelated business taxable income ('UBTI') for mass transit and parking benefits provided to their employees.... Tax-exempt employers who continue to provide on-site athletic facilities will be subject to UBTI." (Wilkins Finston Friedman Law Group LLP)

How Tax Reform Could Influence Defined Benefit Funding Decisions in 2018
"The timing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act presents many sponsors with an immediate opportunity to make a pension contribution in 2018 and obtain a deduction at the higher 2017 tax rate. For companies with a calendar year tax and plan year, they have until September 15, 2018 to make this contribution decision. While this is an attractive incentive to speed up contributions, sponsors considering this option will need to give serious thought to how it will impact their broader pension financial management strategy." (Willis Towers Watson)

[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Request for Public Comments on Proposed Changes to Survey of Nonparticipating Single Premium Group Annuity Rates
"PBGC gathers pricing data from insurance companies that are providing annuity contracts to terminating pension plans through a quarterly 'Survey of Nonparticipating Single Premium Group Annuity Rates.' The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) distributes the survey and provides PBGC with 'blind' data ... PBGC also uses the information from the survey in determining the interest rates it uses to value benefits payable to participants and beneficiaries in PBGC-trusteed plans for purposes of PBGC's financial statements. PBGC is proposing several changes to the survey distributed by ACLI[.]" (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])

A Simple Guide for Meeting 401(k) Fiduciary Responsibilities
"[1] Meeting investment-related responsibilities ... [2] Meeting administration-related responsibilities ... [3] Paying only reasonable expenses from plan assets.... [4] Depositing employee contributions timely ... [5] Maintaining adequate ERISA fidelity bond coverage ... [6] Selecting and monitoring 401(k) service providers." (Employee Fiduciary)

[Guidance Overview] 2018 Pension Plan Limitations: IRS Confirms No Changes Due to Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017
"As the recently enacted tax legislation made no changes to the section of the tax law limiting benefits and contributions for retirement plans, the qualified retirement plan limitations for tax year 2018 previously announced in the news release and detailed in [Notice 2017-64] remain unchanged." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Guidance Overview] PBGC's Missing Participants Program Now Available to Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)
"The pilot program's success at reuniting missing participants with their money also has led the DOL to conduct more audits of a plan fiduciary's duty to make reasonable attempts to locate missing participants, examining the efforts of a plan sponsor or administrator to follow the guidance in [FAB 2014-01].... PBGC's final rule might be useful in the plan termination context, but concerns remain for ongoing plans with missing participants." (Milliman)

Financial Benefit Trends to Watch in 2018
"[1] More employers will add financial education benefits.... [2] Financial benefits will become more holistic.... [3] More student loan repayment benefits will become available.... [4] Increased attention will be given to helping employees with short-term financial issues.... [5] Employers will begin to look for ways to provide financial education to future generations." (Voya)

IRS Wants Hurricane Distributions Reported as Penalty Tax Exception on 2017 Forms 1099-R
"The IRS has recently updated its ... [website] regarding the reporting of retirement and IRA distributions to individuals affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria. The note, dated January 2018, mandates the use of Code 2 on Form 1099-R to report such distributions made in 2017, known as 'qualified hurricane distributions' under the relief provided to victims by both the IRS and Congress." (Ascensus)

Decision-Making Best Practices for 401(k) Plans
"Ensure you have a properly structured retirement plan committee ... Discuss the right stuff ... Company hats off, participant hats on ... Use a sound decision-making process ... Document your process." (Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants)

The Plan Committee: Common Problems
"Not reporting up to the board (the failure to oversee).... Committee collapse.... Failure to fully utilize the plan adviser and other experts.... Not keeping track of required plan amendments.... The committee does not control its meetings.... Not enough staff work done before the meeting." (Fiduciary Plan Governance, LLC)

Give Plan Participants What They Need to Boost Retirement Confidence
"[A]ctions sponsors can undertake to better address participant needs and wants: [1] Improve investment education efforts ... [2] Do not make assumptions about what employees need to hear.... [3] Improve saving behavior with automatic enrollment and features.... [4] Offer access to financial advice and tools to gauge whether they are saving enough.... [5] [P]eriodically survey employees to gauge their benefit expectations and use this insight to develop better plans." (PlanPILOT)

Benchmarking: It Isn't Just for Fees Anymore
"[In] the focus on fee benchmarking, some plan sponsors have concentrated solely on fees, to the exclusion of other important measures of the retirement plan's success. Plan sponsors who are not currently benchmarking the following plan metrics may wish to consider them: Overall plan asset growth ... Average account balance ... Projected income replacement ratios at retirement." (Cammack Retirement Group)

Steps for Making Employee Benefits a Year-Round Conversation
"Find the resources to help you create and deploy your communications. As you develop your communications, keep the these things in mind: Stick with one or two topics for each communication (unless you're doing a newsletter); keep your content short (use bullet points where you can) and engaging -- let employees know what's in it for them up front and early on; avoid attaching files to emails; and if you can use short videos to communicate information, do it." (Willis Towers Watson)

[Guidance Overview] Overpayments to Plan Participants: Collateral Damage from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
"Until clarified by the IRS, only repayments greater than $3,000 can continue to be deducted in full for the year the repayment occurred. Anything less than $3,000 was a casualty of the elimination of miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% floor.... You also don't get to adjust your tax filings for any previous years[.]" (Slott Report)

CalPERS Raises Pensionable Compensation Caps for 2018
"The compensation limit for classic members for the 2018 calendar year is $275,000; raised from $270,000 in 2017. The compensation limit for new members for the 2018 calendar year is $121,388 for Social Security Participants and $145,666 for Non-Social Security Participants.... Employees with membership dates prior to July 1, 1996, are not impacted by these limits." (Liebert Cassidy Whitmore)

[Opinion] ARA Comment Letter to IRS: Revised EPCRS User Fee Structure Is Unfair to Small Businesses (PDF)
"ARA recommends that the IRS immediately amend Revenue Procedure 2018-4 to: [1] Provide that the applicable general VCP user fee is the lesser of the general VCP user fee in effect on January 2, 2018, or the general VCP user fee in effect immediately prior to January 2, 2018, pursuant to Revenue Procedure 2017-4; and [2] Reinstate the special reduced VCP user fees in effect immediately prior to January 2, 2018[.]" (American Retirement Association [ARA])

Those Pesky Plan Documents: What Do They Have to Do with My Fiduciary Duties? (PDF)
"What about plan amendments that have never been signed -- are they governing plan documents? Will other documents -- such as an Investment Policy Statement, QDRO Policy, Loan Procedures, divorce decrees affecting benefits and/or beneficiary designations -- be considered governing plan documents for purposes of [ERISA] Section 404(a)(1)(D)? ... [P]lan fiduciaries should seriously consider whether the old adage 'the less you say the better' might apply to plan documents." (Boutwell Fay LLP)

Nearly One in Five Workers Had Access to Financial Planning Benefits in 2017
"In 2017, about one-fifth of private industry workers were offered free or subsidized financial planning services from their employers. These services help employees make decisions about savings, borrowing, investing, home buying, education expenses, or retirement. While union and nonunion workers had similar rates of access to financial planning services, access varied based on size of establishment, wage level, and industry." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS])

403(b) Vendor Selection Tips
"Higher education and other 403(b) plans were typically established with a different goal than 401(k) plans. Therefore, 403(b) plan sponsors may want to step back and reevaluate why they're offering a retirement plan, what are the goals for the plan, what are the different recordkeeping structures available, and how this all aligns with their institution's goals. A traditional vendor vetting process would then follow with a special emphasis on the features and services that can most make a difference in their specific situation." (Westminster Consulting)

Claiming Abandoned Assets Can Be Profitable, But How Can Sponsors Protect Participants?
Begins on page 8. "While there are good reasons to believe that assets in ERISA plans are protected from escheatment, many states' unclaimed property laws are quite broad and include employee benefit plans as covered entities.... One of the cases in which qualified assets may be vulnerable is plan termination.... Once escheated, funds lose their qualified status. In addition, states often keep any interest earned by the funds." (Plan Sponsor Council of America [PSCA])

[Opinion] Text of Comment Letters to DOL on Proposed Regs Defining 'Employer' Under Section 3(5) of ERISA: Association Health Plans
The 79 letters posted to the DOL website as of Jan. 31, 2018 were submitted to DOL in response to its request for comments on proposed regs for association health plans. Deadline for comments is March 6, 2018. (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])

[Guidance Overview] IRS Provides Guidance on Withholding Post-Tax Reform
"There is a general expectation that many U.S. taxpayers will experience a reduced income tax obligation in the post-tax reform world. Based on this expectation, Notice 2018-14 sets its default withholding assumption for periodic retirement payments to be equivalent to the level of wage withholding appropriate for a married worker who is entitled to claim three withholding allowances." (Ascensus)

Metlife Finds Accounting Issue, Boosts Pension, Annuity Reserves
"MetLife said it was reviewing its processes for finding missing group annuity policyholders and pension beneficiaries after disclosing in December that it had lost track of some. Reserves were boosted by $525 million to $575 million before taxes, and the earnings report and conference call was postponed." (Pensions & Investments)