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Representatives Introduce Electronic Disclosure Bill for Retirement Plan Information
"The proposed Receiving Electronic Statements to Improve Retiree Earnings (RETIRE) Act would automatically enroll plan participants in electronic delivery. It would require employers to make retirement information easily accessible online, and have protections for employees who prefer to receive paper documents and can opt out." (Pensions & Investments)

The Benefits of Mediation in ERISA Claims
"Mediation can help reduce the chances of the plaintiff being awarded a higher payout, and avoid payment of the defendant's legal fees. A carefully mediated negotiation can allow both parties to walk away content with the outcome, without the unknown outcome that can result from a trial." (Butterfield Schechter LLP)

[Guidance Overview] 2018 Reporting and Disclosure Calendar for Single Employer Health and Retirement Plans (PDF)
"[This 33-page calendar summarizes] the annual compliance requirements and disclosure obligations that health and retirement plan sponsors need to know. The content in these calendars raise issues that may cause plan sponsors to check, change or consider their current approaches." (Segal Consulting)

[Guidance Overview] 2018 Reporting and Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Health and Retirement Plans (PDF)
"[This 33-page calendar summarizes] the annual compliance requirements and disclosure obligations that health and retirement plan sponsors need to know. The content in these calendars raise issues that may cause plan sponsors to check, change or consider their current approaches." (Segal Consulting)

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2017-76: Weighted Average Interest Rates, Yield Curves, and Segment Rates Applicable for December 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])

[Opinion] American Benefits Council Letter to DOL on Claims Procedure for Plans Providing Disability Benefits
14 pages. "[We] urge the Department to [1] delay the application of the Final Rule as long as needed to permit the Department to engage in fulsome analysis of the potential effects of the Final Rule's provisions, and [2] take the necessary steps to strike a more appropriate balance between the goal of ensuring a full and fair review of all claims with the need for continued employee access to affordable disability coverage." (American Benefits Council)

Ostrich Fiduciaries: Can We Get Their Heads Out of the Sand?
"49% of plan sponsors surveyed, 39% of investment committee members and 22% of administrative committee members didn't understand that they are fiduciaries.... A clueless fiduciary may be: [1] Failing to monitor high plan fees ... [2] Putting plan investments in a 'set it and forget it' category ... [3] Not checking what the vendors are doing ... [4] Not picking the best outside advisers ... [5] Missing reporting deadlines or unaware that forms must be filed. [6] Engaging in prohibited transactions." (Cohen & Buckmann, P.C.)

DOL Extends Relief for Victims of Hurricane Maria and October California Wildfires (PDF)
"DOL will not pursue ERISA violations against plans that are complying with IRS relief in connection with hardship withdrawals and loans of Hurricane Maria and October 2017 California wildfire victims. Additionally, DOL extended certain ERISA deadlines for plan sponsors, participants, and beneficiaries affected by Hurricane Maria -- in some circumstances on a mandatory basis." (Conduent)

Short-Term Delay in Disability Claims Procedures Includes Very Short Fuse
"Some carriers or other providers may have already changed their systems to comply with these new rules and therefore will not see a point in changing their processes at this point. If the delayed effective date will apply, then employers need to make sure to get any necessary plan amendments in place before January 1, 2018 and be prepared to communicate this change to participants." (HUB International)

Text of Enrolled Actuaries Pension Examination EA-2, Segment F, Fall 2017 (PDF)
111 pages. Full text of Nov. 7, 2017 exam with answers, published online by IRS. (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA]; Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries [JBEA]; Society of Actuaries)

401(k) and 403(b) Education: How to Set Up Employees for Success
"When ... employees [were asked] why they had not joined the retirement plan, only a minority blamed stretched finances for their decision. About 40% said they were 'too busy' and 19% said signing up was 'too much hassle.' That means there's room for better, participant-focused 401(k) education efforts to move the needle." (ForUsAll)

[Guidance Overview] IRS Offers Two Methods for Correction of Missed Plan Loan Payments
"According to the advice in the [CCM 201736022], if the plan loan payments are brought in line within the appropriate cure period, there is no violation of 72(p) requiring correction under EPCRS. However, if the correction prescribed in the memorandum is not made within the cure period, then EPCRS would be the next alternative." (

Denver FBI Uncovers Fraud Scheme Targeting 401(k) Accounts
"A scheme targeting individual 401(k) accounts, potentially at multiple recordkeepers, has resulted in a lawsuit by the U.S. Attorney's office in Colorado to recover as much as $2 million in losses. The lawsuit ... seeks to seize up to $342,335 in assets from five individuals who deposited funds from the alleged scheme in multiple banks, including JP Morgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, PNC Bank and Wells Fargo." (National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA])

Trends in Participant Site Homepages
"[T]he retirement portfolio summary user experience has evolved and resulted in three key trends: [1] the rise in distinct homepages and account-specific dashboards, [2] increased dashboard or homepage retirement readiness content and the [3] integration of more personalized communication strategies." (Corporate Insight)

[Official Guidance] Text of 2017 Instructions for IRS Form CT-1: Employer's Annual Railroad Retirement Tax Return (PDF)
"Use Form CT-1 to report taxes imposed by the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA). Use Form 941, Employer's QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, or, if applicable, Form 944, Employer's ANNUAL Federal Tax Return, to report federal income taxes withheld from your employees' wages and other compensation." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

Government Plan Sponsors Seek Employee Communication from Providers
"While most government employers (53%) offer defined contribution (DC) plans to their employees, only slightly more than half (56%) of those plan sponsors believe they are successful in aiding a worker's retirement savings.... [P]articipation rates in DC plans offered by a government employer are much lower compared to 401(k) plans, with only a 44% participation rate found in government plans compared to 82% in 401(k)." (planadviser)

Behavioral Economics and 401(k) Plan Participants
"Listed [in this article] are obstacles that 401k plan participants need to overcome to propel themselves successfully down the road to retirement readiness.... [For] each behavioral economics obstacle a solution [is described] that plan sponsors can employ." (Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants)

Strategies to Reduce Required Minimum Distributions from Retirement Accounts
"Ultimately, it's impossible to completely and indefinitely avoid the requirement to distribute retirement accounts -- if only because, even to the extent the account isn't liquidated during life, the beneficiaries will be subject to additional RMD obligations after the death of the original account owner. Nonetheless, the potential exists to at least partially manage and minimize RMDs, and mitigate some of their tax bite!" (Nerd's Eye View)

[Guidance Overview] Revised Form 5300, Application for Determination for Employee Benefit Plan
"Form 5300, Application for Determination for Employee Benefit Plan, has undergone major revisions reducing it by seven pages. Plan sponsors submit Form 5300 to request a determination letter from the IRS on the qualification of their defined benefit or defined contribution plan and the exempt status of any related trust. Beginning January 1, 2017, applicants should've used the newest revision 1-2017 to file an initial determination letter application. However, applicants permitted to submit under cycle A3, under Revenue Procedure 2007-44, should use the prior version of Form 5300 (Rev. 12-2013)." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

PBGC and Open Government -- Call for Ideas
"PBGC is interested in your ideas on how we make information available. Please consider the following: What PBGC data or content should be more readily available? Which PBGC online service or data would you like to be easier to use? Which PBGC service would you like to use on your mobile device? You can submit your feedback to" (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])

[Guidance Overview] Implementation of Final Rule on Disability Claims Procedures Formally Delayed
"For employers that maintain insured disability plans, communication with the insurance carrier to discuss how the new procedures will be applied and documented will be important. Employers may consider amending their retirement plans so that the definition of disability relies on the determination of a third party, such as the Social Security Administration or the employer's long-term disability carrier. In that case, the disability claims rules generally would not apply to the retirement plan." (Dickinson Wright PLLC)

2017 Form 5500 Annual Return/Report Series Issued
"IRS-only questions that filers were not required to complete on the 2016 Form 5500, Form 5500-SF, and Schedules H, I, and R have been removed from the 2017 forms and schedules.... The instructions for 2017 Forms 5500 and 5500-SF have been updated to reflect an increase in the maximum civil penalty amount assessable under ERISA Sec. 502(c)(2) ... Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF have been changed to provide a field for filers to indicate that the name of the plan has changed." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

PBGC Suits Challenging Standard Terminations: Statute of Limitations and Third-Party Liability
"IHI argued that PBGC's lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations on the theory that PBGC's cause of action arose on ... the date IHI paid plan participants.... The court rejected IHI's arguments and ruled that PBGC's cause of action did not arise until its final determination ... or -- at the earliest -- on ... the date of PBGC's initial determination following its audit.... IHI tried to shift -- or share -- the liability by requesting leave to file a third-party complaint against ... a service provider retained by IHI to assist in establishing the retirement plan for IHI employees.... Citing ERISA Sections 4003 and 4041, the court held that 'the Plan Administrator alone, not a third party advisor, is responsible for proper termination of the Pension Plan.' " [PBGC v. Idaho Hyperbarics, Inc., No. 16-325 (D. Idaho May 15, 2017)] (McGuireWoods)

Cambridge Retirement System Sues Willis Towers Watson Over Merger
"Cambridge (Mass.) Retirement System filed a class-action lawsuit against Willis Towers Watson and other defendants for allegedly violating provisions of the Exchange Act in connection to the merger between Towers Watson & Co. and Willis Group Holdings. The suit alleges that defendants issued false and misleading statements in proxy materials filed with the U.S. [SEC] prior to the merger, which closed on Jan. 4, 2016." (Pensions & Investments)

House Bill Would Allow Sponsors to Force Larger Auto-IRA Cash Outs
"The Retirement Plan Modernization Act would raise the automatic IRA rollover limit, based on the rate of inflation, from $5,000 to $7,600 and allow for future increases to be indexed for inflation." (PLANSPONSOR)

Interesting Angles on the DOL's Fiduciary Rule, Part 71
"[T]he goal of financial wellness programs is to provide help to participants in achieving their short-, intermediate-, and long-term financial objectives. Recordkeepers are uniquely suited to provide those services, because of the information they already possess and because of their call centers.... Some of that advice is fiduciary and some is not. Let's take a closer look at that." (

ERISA Mediation Tips for Employers
"Letting the employee express their complaints can be one of the most important parts of mediation ... The mediator is not a fact-finder and is not there to determine questions of law. The mediator is a third-party who is there to facilitate a settlement ... Settling a weak ERISA claim is almost always less expensive than litigating.... Perhaps the greatest benefit of mediation is that it allows the parties to develop their own ultimate resolution." (Butterfield Schechter LLP)

Every Good Fiduciary Should Know the Answer to These 401(k) Plan Questions
"[These] commonly asked questions ... open the door for teachable lessons.... [1] Should I invest into the 401k, and will I save on taxes? ... [2] How much guaranteed interest do 401k plans earn? ... [3] Once I make the contribution how quickly can I take the money out? ... [4] Do I have to notify my employees of the plan? ... [5] Can I force employees to meet one-on-one with financial advisers? " (Fiduciary News)

2017 Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing the DOL (PDF)
17 pages. "For many years, EBSA's oversight efforts have been challenged by the fact that billions of dollars in pension assets held in otherwise regulated entities, such as banks, escaped audit scrutiny.... EBSA is further challenged by the large increase in the types and complexity of investment products available to pension plans.... EBSA also faces challenges in protecting participants because of limited information it receives from its main information gathering tool, the Form 5500 series." (Office of Inspector General [OIG], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])

[Official Guidance] Text of Instructions for 2018 IRS Form 1098-Q: Qualifying Longevity Annuity Contract Information (PDF)
"File Form 1098-Q, Qualifying Longevity Annuity Contract Information, if you issue any contract that is intended to be a qualifying longevity annuity contract (QLAC)." [Nov. 16, 2017; published online Nov. 28, 2017. Also available: 2018 Form 1098-Q.] (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Guidance Overview] Should Your 401(k) Plan Provide Hurricane Relief?
"IRS announcements and a new law enable participants to take withdrawals to help relatives who were seriously impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma ... [and] allow plans to permit loans for relief even if the plan terms don't currently provide for loans.... [We] still have no official interpretation of the new law ... And it wasn't until very recently that we got guidance from Puerto Rico's Hacienda ... Here is a summary of the situation for plan sponsors who want to help." (Cohen & Buckmann, P.C.)

[Guidance Overview] Agencies Publish Changes to Previously Announced COLAs
"[T]he Social Security Administration announced that it was lowering the previously calculated amount, and that the 2018 taxable wage base would instead be only $128,400.... [The IRS] also made a change ... The factor by which a defined benefit plan participant's compensation is increased when applying the Section 415(b) 100%-of-compensation limit to participants who separated from service before 2018 has been changed from 1.96% to 1.97%." (FordHarrison)

DOL Delays Implementation of Disability Claim Rules
"Many short-term disability arrangements are merely payroll practices where the employer continues the employee's normal salary for several weeks or months while the employee is disabled. The new rules won't apply to these arrangements but apply to arrangements where an insurer pays benefits....[N]onqualified deferred-compensation plans that pay benefits when a participant becomes disabled are subject to these new regulations if the determination of disability is made by an insurer or by the employer or plan sponsor." (Lockton)

[Guidance Overview] Mediation of PBGC Disputes: A New and Welcome Option (PDF)
"This article provides a brief history of the background leading to the pilot mediation program, a description of the two categories of disputes that are eligible for the program, and a summary of the basic rules that apply to the program." (Keightley & Ashner LLP, via Bloomberg Law Pension & Benefits Daily)

What the New Form 5500 Means for 401(k) Advisors
"[P]roposals suggest that a 'modernized' Form 5500 will compel plan sponsors to deliver a trove of information -- some of it new -- in formats that facilitate data mining.... The sharper edge of modernization may be an improved ability to identify anomalies and compliance issues." (401K Specialist)

Focus on Employees' Motivations to Help Them Understand and Maximize the Value of Their Benefits (PDF)
16 pages. "Today, employees are expected to fully understand which benefits will serve them best -- now and in the future -- and then effectively allocate their benefit dollars across a vast range of choices ... [T]hree key strategies for employers ... [1] Speak clearly about the coverage; [use] a simple four-point formula. [2] Communicate in multiple ways ... [3] Focus on motivations that most impact decision-making[.]" (Lincoln Financial Group)

Are Annuities a Viable Retirement Solution?
"There are definite advantages to annuities that may make them a suitable choice for a portion of your total retirement income, but there are some downsides that purchasers need to be aware of before incorporating them into their retirement planning." (Frenkel Benefits)

[Guidance Overview] DOL Finalizes BICE Transition Period Extension to July 1, 2019 (PDF)
"The Department indicates it intends to utilize the next 18 months to re-examine the fiduciary rule as instructed by the President's February 3, 2017 memorandum. The Department also signals a desire to coordinate with other federal and state regulators, including the SEC, FINRA and the NAIC as part of that effort. The Department anticipates the proposal of a new streamlined class exemption 'in the near future.' " (Groom Law Group)

Protecting Retirement Plans from Identity Theft
"Retirement plans can have very large balances compared to other cyber targets such as bank accounts, and therefore, have become quite attractive to cyber criminals. Cybercrime related to retirement plans can occur as a result of threats such as phishing, ransomware, 'social engineering,' and wire transfer fraud, among others.... [R]etirement plans should remind their employees to confirm the identity of individuals who call claiming to be a plan participant, especially if the individual is calling to make a withdrawal or transfer." (Ice Miller LLP)

Disability Claims Procedure Regs Delayed ... for the Last Time?
"EBSA currently remains unconvinced that the revised claims procedures are overreaching. In the preamble regarding the delay, it states that based on information and data provided to date, no substantive changes or delay past April 1 is warranted. However, through December 11, 2017 interested parties may submit comments, data and 'convincing factual support' for EBSA's review." (Mayer Brown)

[Official Guidance] Social Security Announces Updated 2018 Taxable Maximum Amount
"Based on the wage data Social Security had at the time of the October 13, 2017 announcement, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) was to increase to $128,700 in 2018, from $127,200 in 2017. The new amount for 2018, based on updated wage data reported to Social Security, is $128,400." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])

Retirement Plan Advisers Need to Start Planning for Their Own Succession
"Many expect to use the sale of their business as a primary source of their retirement funding. But even the most successful plan adviser with staff and infrastructure finds that their 'business,' which might be generating good cash flow and funding a nice lifestyle, is really a 'practice' that has little value to a buyer.... [M]ost plan advisers have a hard time walking away from their practices and the cash flow unless someone is willing to pay them a fair price. Which is why so few walk away." (InvestmentNews)

[Official Guidance] Text of DOL Final Regs: Delay of Applicability Date for Claims Procedure for Plans Providing Disability Benefits
23 pages. "This document delay s for ninety [90] days -- through April 1, 2018 -- the applicability of a final rule amending the claims procedure requirements applicable to ERISA-covered employee benefit plans that provide disability benefits (Final Rule). The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on December 19, 2016, became effective on January 18, 2017, and was scheduled to become applicable on January 1, 2018. The delay announced in this document is necessary to enable the [DOL] to carefully consider comments and data as part of its effort, pursuant to Executive Order 13777, to examine regulatory alternatives that meet its objectives of ensuring the full and fair review of disability benefit claims while not imposing unnecessary costs and adverse consequences." (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])

401(k) Third Party Administrator vs. Advisors: Key Differences
"Outside of TPA/administrative work, an advisor may take on other responsibilities for your plan, such as: [1] Assuming fiduciary liability ... [2] Providing participant education ... [3] Monitoring eligibility for participants;[4] Making plan design recommendations; [5] Conducting investment reviews; [6] Updating the investment lineup; [7] Signing your form 5500; [8] Performing compliance checks; [9] Advising on alternative savings methods." (ForUsAll)

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): The Out-of-Sight, Out-of Mind-Problem
"Do you understand all of the shorthand references in your plan documents? Are your plan administration systems and capabilities consistent with the design and needs of your plan? Have you properly attempted to contact participants you have not heard from? Should you consider adding some form of the IRS guidelines to you plan?" (Best Best & Krieger LLP)

Don't Forget 401(k) Deadlines During the Holiday Bustle
"Here's a partial to-do list for participants and plan sponsors as 2017 comes to a close." (Bloomberg BNA)

[Official Guidance] Text of DOL FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and the California Wildfires (PDF)
22 Q&As. "My employer's place of business is closed. I cannot locate my plan administrator. Who do I contact to file a claim for benefits, or to obtain replacement identification documents? ... I think I may be losing my health coverage as a result of the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires. What can I do to obtain other health coverage? ... My employer's place of business is closed due to the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires. Who should I contact to file a claim for retirement benefits or make sure that I will continue to receive my pension payments on time? ... How can I make changes in the way my 401(k) plan account is invested if it was affected by the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires? ... If my employer faces economic difficulties as a result of the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires, can my employer terminate my retirement plan, and if so, what happens to my benefits? ... All of the records concerning my employment with the retirement plan sponsor and my participation in the retirement plan were destroyed as a result of the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires. What do I do?" [Editor's note: this document seems to supercede the FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricane Harvey issued Aug. 29, 2017. It seems to contain few new provisions with respect to such persons, if any.] (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])

[Official Guidance] Text of DOL FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricane Maria (PDF)
23 Q&As. "The Department is issuing these FAQs to assist employee benefit plans, plan sponsors, employers and employees who were impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria to better understand their rights and responsibilities under ERISA with respect to their ERISA covered employee benefit plans. In addition to providing this general guidance, the Department has also provided an extension of time for certain notices required to be provided under ERISA for those impacted by these disasters." (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])

[Guidance Overview] 2017 Year-End 'To Do' List for Qualified Retirement Plan Sponsors
Categories: [1] all qualified plans; [2] section 401(k) plans; [3] defined contribution plans other than section 401(k) plans; [4] defined benefit plans; and [5] section 403(b) plans. (Snell & Wilmer)

[Official Guidance] Text of DOL Additional Relief for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants and Beneficiaries Impacted by Hurricane Maria and October 2017 California Wildfires
"The [DOL] will not treat any person as having violated the provisions of Title I of ERISA solely because they complied with the verification procedures of IRS Announcement 2017-15.... [The DOL] will not -- solely on the basis of a failure attributable to Hurricane Maria -- seek to enforce the provisions of Title I with respect to a temporary delay in the forwarding of such payments or contributions to an employee pension benefit plan to the extent that affected employers, and service providers, act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of employees to comply as soon as practical under the circumstances.... With respect to blackout periods related to Hurricane Maria, the [DOL] will not allege a violation of the blackout notice requirements solely on the basis that a fiduciary did not make the required written determination....

"The Department recognizes that [group health] plan participants and beneficiaries may encounter an array of problems due to Hurricane Maria and the California Wildfires. The guiding principle for plans must be to act reasonably, prudently, and in the interest of the workers and their families who rely on their health plans for their physical and economic well-being. Plan fiduciaries should make reasonable accommodations to prevent the loss of benefits in such cases and should take steps to minimize the possibility of individuals losing benefits because of a failure to comply with pre-established time frames." (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])

[Opinion] American Academy of Actuaries Comment Letter to PBGC on Proposed Modification to 2017 Form 5500 Schedule MB (PDF)
"PBGC is proposing that basic supporting documentation ... be included as an attachment to Line 4f.... [T]he additional information would enhance the ability of PBGC to perform projections for plans in critical and declining status or which are otherwise approaching insolvency.... [With] one exception ... the additional information will not result in a significant burden for most plan actuaries, as they will have already performed the calculations requested in the supporting documentation." (Multiemployer Plans Committee, American Academy of Actuaries)

[Official Guidance] Advance Information Copies of 2017 Form 5500 Series
Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan Instructions IRS Information on Schedule R Form 5500-SF Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan Instructions IRS Information on Schedule R Schedule A -- Insurance Information Schedule C -- Service Provider Information Schedule D -- DFE/Participating Plan Information Schedule G -- Financial Transaction Schedules Schedule H -- Financial Information Schedule I -- Financial Information -- Small Plan Schedule MB -- Multiemployer Defined Benefit Plan and Certain Money Purchase Plan Actuarial Information Schedule R -- Retirement Plan Information Schedule SB -- Single-Employer Defined Benefit Plan Actuarial Information (Internal Revenue Service [IRS]; Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]; Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])[...]

[Official Guidance] Agencies Release Advance Copies of Form 5500 Annual Return/Report for 2017
"[EBSA], the IRS, and the [PBGC] today released advance informational copies of the 2017 Form 5500 annual return/report and related instructions. The 'Changes to Note' section of the 2017 instructions highlight important modifications to the Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF and their schedules and instructions. Modifications are as follows ...
  • IRS-only questions that filers were not required to complete on the 2016 Form 5500 have been removed from the Form 5500, Form 5500-SF and Schedules ...
  • The instructions for authorized service provider signatures have been updated to reflect the ability for service providers to sign electronic filings on the plan sponsor and Direct Filing Entity (DFE) lines ... in addition to signing on behalf of plan administrators.
  • The instructions have been updated to reflect an increase in the maximum civil penalty amount assessable under [ERISA] section 502(c)(2) ...
  • Line 4 of the Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF have been changed to provide a field for filers to indicate the name of the plan has changed....
  • The instructions for line 6c have been updated to add mortality codes for several variants of the RP-2014 mortality table and to add a description of the mortality projection technique and scale to the Schedule MB, line 6 -- Statement of Actuarial Assumptions/Methods.
  • Line 6c has been modified to add a new question for defined benefit plans that answer 'Yes' to the existing question about whether the plan is covered under the PBGC insurance program."
(Internal Revenue Service [IRS]; Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]; Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])

New, Free Daily Publication: The Message Boards Digest
Subscribe to the new, free Message Boards Digest, sent daily by email. You'll get a summary of all new topics on the BenefitsLink message boards, including the number of times each topic has been viewed, and how many replies it has received. (Some topics are included in the BenefitsLink newsletters, but many are not.) Subscribe now! (BenefitsLink)

Latest SOA Analysis Shows Year Over Year Increase in Mortality
"Reflecting this change, SOA stated that 'most 2017 pension obligations calculated using Scale MP-2017 (with a discount rate of 4.0%) are anticipated to be approximately 0.7% to 1.0% lower than those calculated using Scale MP-2016.'... IRS said it intends to (more or less) annually review applicable mortality improvement assumptions as they are revised by the SOA. It seems unlikely -- notwithstanding that the new 2017 SOA scale has been published now (in 2017), before the IRS regulation's 2018 effective date -- that IRS will update its rules for 2018." (October Three Consulting)

Impact of Borrowing from Your Retirement Plan
"This calculator can help you make a more informed decision about whether a loan is the right approach for your financial situation." (Smart About Money)

[Guidance Overview] Puerto Rico Treasury Department Finally Grants Relief to Participants Affected by Hurricane Maria (PDF)
"After a long and tumultuous process, and 56 days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Treasury Department issued Administrative Determination No. 17-29 to grant relief on eligible distributions (including hardship withdrawals) and plan loans by participants in Puerto Rico tax qualified retirement plans who were affected by Hurricane Maria." (Groom Law Group)

[Official Guidance] Text of Puerto Rico Treasury Administrative Determination No. 17-29: Rules Applicable to Distributions by Qualified Retirement Plans and Individual Retirement Accounts Due to Hurricane Maria
"Eligible Individuals may choose to receive Eligible Distributions independently of other forms of payment available under the Retirement Plan or IRA. In addition, such Eligible Individuals who receive an Eligible Distributorship do not have to be subject to a restriction period in the continuation of their contributions to the Retirement Plan or the IRA after the distribution is completed.... [E]ligible expenses are considered all those expenses that an individual will incur to correct losses or damages suffered by Hurricane Maria for Puerto Rico and extraordinary and unforeseen expenses to cover basic needs as a result of the disaster caused by said phenomenon.... [T]he related expenses may have been incurred by the Eligible Individual, his or her spouse, descendants or ascendants.... During the Eligible Period, the approval and disbursement of loans to participants of a Retirement Plan is permissible, even if at the time the loan is completed, said retirement plan does not provide for them, subject to the plan being amended ... to adopt such loans." [Translation provided by Google Translate; official Spanish-language document is available online.] (Puerto Rico Departamento de Hacienda)

U.S. Single Premium Pension Buy-Out Sales Post Record-Breaking Results for Second Consecutive Quarter
"U.S. single premium pension buy-out product sales were $6.4 billion in the third quarter of 2017, a 7 percent increase compared with prior year. This is the tenth consecutive quarter of sales over $1 billion ... Year-to-date, single premium buy-out product sales were $11.9 billion, 47 percent higher than the same period in 2016." (LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute)

Participants Say More Information About Plan Investment Fees Would Be Useful
"[N]early seven in 10 survey respondents in employer-sponsored retirement plans said they were at least somewhat familiar with their plan's fees, while 31% were not at all familiar with the fees. Roughly two-thirds had not read any investment fee disclosure in the previous year.... Of the one-third who had read a fee disclosure, nearly seven in 10 said they found the information understandable ... Roughly four in five participants said it would be at least somewhat useful to have additional information about investment fees." (PLANSPONSOR)