May 28, 2015
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Council testifies for ERISA Advisory Council
Flexibility key for employers providing pension de-risking disclosure
WASHINGTON, DC The American Benefits Council emphasized that any future guidance on pension plan "de-risking" disclosure to participants should allow plan sponsors the flexibility to accommodate their unique plan provisions in testimony before the ERISA Advisory Committee on May 28.
Craig Rosenthal, a partner with Mercer, testified on the Council's behalf, outlining the information participants typically receive when companies engage in pension de-risking activity, such as offering employees a lump sum distribution in lieu of a monthly benefit, and made suggestions related to a recent GAO report on lump sum windows.
Disclosures should be "helpful to participants, as we want participants to make the right choices for their own circumstances," Rosenthal said.
"[I]t is imperative that any future guidance be applied prospectively...[and] we firmly believe that due to the wide variety of plan provisions that exist in the defined benefit universe, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach that will accommodate or contemplate every possible option," Rosenthal said. "As such, it is very important for any future guidance to be flexible enough to allow plan sponsors to customize the language to accommodate different plan features."
The Council's public policy strategic plan, A 2020 Vision, strongly encouraged lawmakers to "[p]rotect a pension plan sponsor's ability, at the federal and state level, to determine how to reduce risk or transition out of the system. Employers' flexibility to reduce the financial risk associated with sponsoring a defined benefit pension plan, and/or transitioning away from sponsorship of such plans, must be protected. This is essential not only to preserve the voluntary nature of such plan sponsorship but also to ensure exiting the system occurs in a manner least disruptive to individuals, employers and the government."
For more information on pension issues, or to arrange an interview with Rosenthal, please contact Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications, at email@example.com or by phone at 202-289-6700 (office) or (202) 422-4652 (mobile).
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.