American Benefits Council
Benefits Byte


October 16, 2014

The Benefits Byte is the American Benefits Council’s regular e-mail and online newsletter for members only, providing timely reports on legislative, regulatory and judicial developments, along with updates on the Council’s activities in support of employer-sponsored benefit plans.

The Benefits Byte is published by the American Benefits Council, based on staff reports and edited by Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications. Contact information for Council staff related to specific topics can be found at the end of each story.

Click here to read past issues on the Benefits Byte Archive page.

Follow us on Twitter at @BenefitsCouncil

Retirement Plan Sponsors, Providers Write EBSA, Make Recommendations for Fee Disclosure Windows

A coalition of ten groups representing retirement plan sponsors and service providers sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) with recommendations for implementation of an annual “window” for disclosing retirement plan fee information.

Under the final regulations governing fee disclosure for participant-directed individual account plans (including defined contribution arrangements like 401(k) plans), plan administrators must annually disclose detailed investment-related information to plan participants and beneficiaries about the plans’ designated investment alternatives in the form of a comparative chart. The regulations require that the disclosure must be provided at least once in any 12-month period for both calendar- or fiscal-year plans.

DOL Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) 2013-02, issued in July 2013, provided temporary enforcement relief from defined contribution plan fee disclosure requirements by allowing plan sponsors to “reset” the timing of this annual disclosure to align the comparative chart with other participant disclosures. EBSA also stated in the FAB that it is also considering providing a 30-day or 45-day window in connection with the due date for disclosing subsequent annual comparative charts.

The October 15 group letter encourages EBSA to provide a window for all annual disclosures, noting that “an Annual Disclosure Window would provide them with the flexibility to provide the annual disclosures to participants without concern that they may miss the deadline.”

The letter also recommends that EBSA consider a minimum of 45 days for such a window and urges the issuance of final or interim final regulations “as soon as possible” to ensure that the disclosure can be implemented immediately.

EBSA has not provided a time frame for issuance of further guidance on the disclosure window. For more information, contact Jan Jacobson, senior counsel, retirement policy, or Lynn Dudley, senior vice president, global retirement & compensation, at (202) 289-6700.

EBSA Extends Deadlines for Numerous Information Collection Requests  

On October 15, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) issued a public notice of the extension of numerous Information Collection Requests (ICRs) related to retirement and health benefit plans.

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 requires that agencies routinely receive Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance in conjunction with any regulation that requests information from the public. An ICR provides an overview of the collection and estimates the cost and time for the public to respond. The public is also welcome to provide comments in response to the ICR itself.

The October 15 issuance includes extensions of ICRs on the following topics:

  • Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption 86-128, which permits persons who serve as fiduciaries for employee benefit plans to effect or execute securities transactions on behalf of employee benefit plans.
  • Consent to receive employee benefit plan disclosures electronically under the existing safe harbor.
  • Furnishing documents to the Secretary of Labor on request under ERISA Section 104(a)(6).
  • Summary disclosures as required by Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Section 2715.
  • ERISA Procedure 76-1, which establishes a public process for requesting guidance from EBSA on the application of ERISA to particular circumstances.
  • ERISA Technical Release 91-1, which provides guidance on how to satisfy the notice requirements prescribed by governing ERISA Section 101(e), which established the notice requirements that must be satisfied before an employer may transfer excess assets from a defined benefit pension plan to a retiree health benefit account.
  • Disclosures by insurers to “General Account Policyholders” under ERISA Section 401(c).
  • Registration for EFAST-2 credentials, permitting the electronic filing of certain reports with DOL.
  • Notice of a blackout period under ERISA, pursuant to The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and subsequent final regulations.
  • PPACA internal claims and appeals and external review procedures for non-grandfathered plans (the Council described the prevailing interim final regulations in its July 23, 2010, Benefits Byte).

The Council does not anticipate filing comments on these ICRs. Member companies may wish to comment individually. For assistance or for more information on retirement plan matters, contact Jan Jacobson, senior counsel, retirement policy. For assistance or more information on health plan matters, contact Kathryn Wilber, senior counsel, health policy. Both may be reached by phone at (202) 289-6700.

The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.

Notice: the information contained herein is general in nature. It is not, and should not be construed as, accounting, consulting, legal or tax advice or opinion provided by the American Benefits Council or any of its employees. As required by the IRS, we inform you that any information contained herein was not intended or written to be used or referred to, and cannot be used or referred to (i) for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein (and any attachment).