More retirement-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.
DOL requests approval to conduct focus groups and survey regarding pension benefit statements
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is requesting the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) approval of an information collection request (ICR) titled, “Focus Groups and Survey Regarding Pension Benefit Statements.”
ERISA, section 105(a), requires an ERISA-covered individual account plan administrator to furnish periodic benefit statements to participants and beneficiaries. This new ICR seeks OMB approval to conduct a survey and an experiment on participants in an existing household American Life Panel (ALP) via the Internet and to conduct four focus groups of non-panel members. The survey and focus groups would explore whether information contained in sample benefit statements can be presented in a way that improves recipients’ understanding of the statements and helps them better plan for retirement. Specifically, the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) would collect data through four focus groups that will pretest the model benefits statements, each containing slightly different information, and conduct a survey of 2,900 ALP respondents.
Interested parties are encouraged to send comments to the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within 30 days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. The notice was published on August 9.
To read the entire notice, click here.
SSA now processing some retirement spouse claims/paying benefits for same-sex couples
Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), issued a statement indicating that Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due.
To read the entire press release, click here.
IRS updates FAQs on designated Roth accounts in retirement plans
The IRS has updated its web page on designated Roth accounts. These frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers provide general information and should not be cited as any type of legal authority. They provide responses to general inquiries. Because these answers do not apply to every situation, yours may require additional research. The answers are based on the final regulations Designated Roth Contributions to Cash or Deferred Arrangements Under Section 401(k) and Designated Roth Accounts Under Section 402A.
To view the updated web page, click here.
SSA analysis: Pension plan participation among married couples; both DB and DC
A recent article presents descriptive statistics on the overall participation in employer-provided pension plans by plan type among married couples over a decade, from 1998 to 2009. The private sector’s pension environment during this period was characterized by a continued shift from traditional defined benefit (DB) pensions to defined contribution (DC) retirement accounts.
This decade saw a rising prevalence of employers “freezing” their DB plans while also establishing new DC plans or increasing the employer match to current DC retirement plans and thus shifting the risks and responsibilities for retirement from employers to employees. Furthermore, the 2006 Pension Protection Act, which permitted employers to automatically enroll their employees into DC plans, is likely to have had an impact on this trend. In addition, during the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, the decline in the financial markets led to sharp declines in retirement account balances, whereas the drastic increase in unemployment led to decreases in participation and contributions to DC plans and increases in loan activities from those accounts.
These changes revealed more clearly some of the causes that may derail employees in DC plans from accumulating sufficient funds for retirement. Finally, the decade was a period when women’s labor force participation declined particularly among unmarried women, those with no children, and women with more than 16 years of education, which is likely to translate into lower participation in pension plans.
To read the entire analysis, click here.