401khelpcenter.com Logo

COLLECTED WISDOM™ on the Coronavirus Pandemic and 401k Plans

This page gathers relevant information and coverage related to the coronavirus pandemic and 401k plans.

This archive contains not only the most current material on the topic, but also older items that are still relevant, provide background, perspective or are germane to the topic.

If you find a broken link or an items that you feel is outdate, irrelevant or no longer appropriate, please let us know.

To subscribe to our free weekly newsletter, enter your email address below then click the "Join" button.

Email Address:



An Updated Look at 401k Participant Behaviors During the COVID-19 Crisis

When markets tumbled, volatility reached unprecedented levels, and interest rates hit record lows in early 2020, it made sense that investors may have questioned what they should be doing with their portfolios. But what did their behavior look like later in the year after the initial shock of the year's unexpected turmoil wore off?

Source: Morningstar.com, April 2021

Coronavirus-Related Distributions: Repayments and Reporting

Among the numerous changes that have taken place last year, the CARES Act added a level of complexity to an already complicated retirement universe. The addition of Coronavirus-related distributions provides participants with the ability to repay qualified distributions anytime over the next three years, following the implementation of the CARES Act. To understand the repayment and reporting of CRDs, it is vital to first understand some of the details regarding these distributions.

Source: Asppa.org, March 2021

COVID-19 Creating Huge Challenges for Higher-Ed Retirement Plans

As a result of the pandemic, 41% of higher education institutions have already reduced or stopped their employer matching contribution, and 87% of them believe COVID-19 will have a significant impact on their employees' retirement readiness. Those are among the key findings of an inaugural survey of retirement plans in public and private higher education conducted by Greenwald Research on behalf of Voya Financial.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, March 2021

How Participants Weathered the Challenges of 2020

This John Hancock report looks at saving and investing behavior -- and progress toward retirement readiness -- over the course of an unprecedented year. Despite obstacles associated with the pandemic, participants held the line with their retirement savings.

Source: Johnhancock.com, March 2021

Does the Pandemic Have a Silver Lining for Retirement Planning?

While it seems clear the pandemic has caused financial strain to many, a new study suggests there are signs of hope when it comes to retirement planning activity.

Source: Asppa.org, March 2021

Study Finds Misplaced Concerns About COVID and Retirement

While there is a lot of discussion about how COVID-19 has affected retirement security, a new paper suggests that things could have been a lot worse. COVID could have worsened the picture for 401k plans if financial markets had collapsed, the recession had led to widespread withdrawals, or more employers had suspended their match. But these things did not happen, according to the report by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Source: Asppa.org, March 2021

Sponsors' Retirement Plan Priorities Shift Due to Pandemic

Callan surveyed plan sponsors and found that their priorities for their DC plans shifted considerably due to the pandemic. Sixty-nine percent of sponsors said they are now most interested in supporting their employees' immediate financial needs. In years past, employers' overriding priority has always been "aspirational goals for their total benefits or total rewards."

Source: Plansponsor.com, March 2021

DOL Clarifies One-Year Limitation on COVID-19 Deadline Extensions -- New Notices May Be Required

In EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01, the DOL has issued a critical interpretation of prior guidance that extended certain deadlines for employee benefit plans, participants, and beneficiaries due to COVID-19. In coordination with other agencies, the DOL has interpreted the underlying one-year limitation on the ability of the agencies to extend deadlines through regulatory action to essentially apply on an individualized, rolling basis to each applicable deadline.

Source: Bradley.com, March 2021

COVID-19 Deadline Extensions -- No More Time Outs but No Single Deadline Either

The DOL has released Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 that attempts to resolve a potential conflict with other statutory guidance under ERISA Section 518 and Code Section 7508A, which technically limits the allowable deadline extension period to a maximum of 1 year. Unfortunately, this Notice now results in new deadlines that can apply immediately and will differ based on individual events.

Source: Benefitslawadvisor.com, March 2021

COVID-19 Relief for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Continued for Limited Time

The DOL has released Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 giving guidance on the duration of COVID-19-related relief previously provided. This article reviews the Notice.

Source: Ascensus.com, March 2021

Can I Convert a Coronavirus-Related Distribution to a Roth IRA?

Can participants combine the three-year spread for taxes and the ability to repay a Coronavirus-Related Distribution to do a Roth IRA conversion without taking a tax hit all at once?

Source: Dwc401k.com, February 2021

Survey Tracks How DC Plans Operated in 2020

Because our world has changed so dramatically, Callan's annual Defined Contribution Survey has evolved to fit the rapidly shifting landscape facing DC plan sponsors. Their 14th annual survey covers the SECURE and CARES Acts, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the key tenets of DC plan management, financial wellness, and health savings accounts.

Source: Callan.com, February 2021

Study Finds Misplaced Concerns About COVID and Retirement

While there has been a lot of discussion about how COVID-related economic shutdowns have affected retirement security, a new paper suggests that things could have been a lot worse. The shutdowns could have worsened the picture for 401k plans if financial markets had collapsed, the recession had led to widespread withdrawals, or more employers had suspended their match. But these things did not happen, according to the report by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Source: Napa-net.org, February 2021

COVID Relief Bill Puts Ceiling on DC Plan Limits

As part of the push to enact a nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill, the House Ways & Means Committee moved forward February 11th with a proposal to freeze retirement plan contribution limits to help offset the cost of multiemployer plan relief. On a party-line vote of 25-18, the committee approved the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021.

Source: Asppa.org, February 2021

U.S. and Puerto Rico Issue Rules on Non-COVID-19 Disaster Relief for Retirement Plans

Last year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Congress and the Puerto Rico Department of Treasury granted favorable tax treatment to coronavirus-related distributions and participant loans from U.S. and Puerto Rico qualified plans. Recently, both jurisdictions extended similar tax treatment to certain distributions, hardship withdrawals, and plan loans related to non-COVID-19 disasters.

Source: Ogletree.com, February 2021

COVID Pressured a Few Employers to Suspend Their 401k Match

Data suggest that less than 1% of plan sponsors (with more than 100 participants) covering 1.6% of plan participants have suspended the match. A similar calculation for the Great Recession in 2008-2009 showed 5% of participants saw their employer’s match suspended. The conclusion seemed to be that companies were not affected by the pandemic, did not experience liquidity pressures, and saw no need to suspend the employer match.

Source: Marketwatch.com, January 2021

Households Are Plundering 401ks to Survive the Covid-19 Crisis

Large numbers of American households were forced to plunder their retirement accounts to make ends meet during the last year, even as the federal government plunged trillions of extra taxpayers' dollars into the economy to keep it afloat. And that grim news is going to add to the looming retirement crisis already faced by tens of millions.

Source: Marketwatch.com, January 2021

Lessons Learned From ERISA Class Action Litigation Arising Out of the "Great Recession"

Often fiduciary duties are magnified and called into question when the country is plunged into an economic crisis and retirement plans suffer significant losses. Most notably, we saw an increase in the number of ERISA class action lawsuits in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008. This article analyzes the ERISA litigation trends that emerged after the Great Recession, the lessons learned, and what we may expect in the wake of the economic impacts resulting from the novel coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19.

Source: Dechert.com, January 2021

Could the COVID Relief Bill Stall Out?

The COVID-19 relief bill may not get President Trump's signature after all, with implications for retirement plan sponsors.

Source: Napa-net.org, December 2020

The Pandemic's Impact on Workers' Finances Has Long-Term Repercussions for Retirement Security

One in five U.S. workers (21 percent) indicate their confidence in their ability to retire comfortably has declined in light of the coronavirus pandemic and only 27 percent are very confident that they will be able to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle, according to a new survey released by nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

Source: Transamericacenter.org, December 2020

COVID Relief Bill Includes Retirement Relief

There's some great news for plan sponsors in the COVID relief bill, a "temporary rule preventing partial plan termination." Once approved and signed into law, sponsors of defined contribution retirement plans can avoid the partial plan termination rules if the active participant count as of March 2021 is 80% of the active participant count at the time the national emergency was declared.

Source: Asppa.org, December 2020

Two Million US Workers Dipping Into 401ks for Cash Amid Pandemic

At least 2 million U.S. workers have tapped into their 401ks and retirement plans for funds amid the nearly yearlong coronavirus pandemic, according to the largest financial planning administrators. Fidelity, Empower Retirement, Vanguard, Alight Solutions, and Principal, reported more than 2.1 million Americans have pulled funds from retirement planning accounts since the economy took a hit due to the pandemic in March.

Source: Thehill.com, December 2020

Nearly 46,000 Businesses Slashed 401k Contributions During Pandemic

Thousands of companies have cut funding they typically pay to 401k investors, due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey. About 8% of employers slashed their 401k contributions in recent months, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America, a group that represents companies with workplace retirement plans. Another 1% are considering doing so.

Source: Cnbc.com, December 2020

COVID-19 Impact on 401k Plans

In contrast to the response during the 2008-09 financial crisis, more than 90 percent of employers will make their retirement plan contributions this year, though smaller organizations are more likely to have suspended or reduced plan contributions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to this 7-page PSCA snapshot survey of retirement plan sponsors. Though most companies are not making changes to plan contributions this year, smaller organizations have been more impacted by current conditions and are thus more likely to have suspended or reduced plan contributions.

Source: Psca.org, December 2020

The COVID-19 Toll on Retirement Savings

There have been numerous reports about companies suspending matching contributions, but how does that compare with the 2008-09 financial crisis? As it turns out, in contrast to the response during the 2008-09 financial crisis, more than 90% of employers will still make their retirement plan contributions this year, though smaller organizations are more likely to have sus­pended or reduced plan contributions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Napa-net.org, December 2020

Get Ready to Handle the 401k Enrollment Season Remotely

Conducting 401k enrollment meetings is often a challenge for HR professionals, but the stakes have never been higher than they are in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic will impact both the substance and the form of these meetings. Here are eight tips to help you make your digital enrollment meetings as effective as possible.

Source: Recruiter.com, December 2020

CARES Act Changes to Retirement Plans

As the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, Congress passed the CARES Act to quickly provide relief, including to allow cash from retirement plans to flow into the hands of individuals and families. This piece discusses the 2020 changes to retirement plan distributions and loans made by the CARES Act, as well as tips to take the most tax-efficient advantage of those changes.

Source: Thetaxadviser.com, December 2020

Impact of COVID-19 and Economic Conditions on 403b Plans

PSCA conducted a brief survey of 403b plan sponsors in October 2020 to determine how they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic conditions. This is the full 10-page report.

Source: Psca.org, December 2020

Retirement Savers Undeterred by COVID-19 Economic Downturn

Americans overwhelmingly continued saving for retirement through DC plans during the first three quarters of 2020, undeterred by the economic downturn brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ICI. The study tracks contributions, withdrawals, and other activity in 401k and other DC retirement plans, based on DC plan recordkeeper data covering more than 30 million participant accounts in employer-based DC plans at the end of September 2020. This study also tracks coronavirus-related distributions among plan participants to provide insight into financial activity related to the pandemic.

Source: Ici.org, November 2020

Do Defaults Limit Consumer Response to Rainy-Day Funds? Evidence from 401k Participants During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This research finds that self-directed workers in occupations with high subsequent unemployment were more likely to call the 401k plan TPA about withdrawing funds from their account than workers in delegated investment accounts. Workers defaulted into target-date funds and those who chose to delegate investments through a managed account were both less likely to contact the recordkeeper about making a post-CARES Act distribution.

Source: Ssrn.com, November 2020

COVID-19 and Its Effects on Retirement Accounts

On January 20, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the United States. As the virus continued to spread, many states issued stay-at-home orders, employers instituted work-from-home policies and the decade-plus bull market quickly reversed course. This not only impacted personal savings but also $6.3 trillion in retirement plan assets.

Source: Dimeoschneider.com, November 2020

Pandemic Impacts Canadians' Retirement Plans

A recent CIBC survey finds that the pandemic has impacted Canadians' savings and their anticipated lifestyle in retirement. Four out of 10 (40 percent) respondents worry about the effect of COVID-19 on their savings and retirement plans, with almost a quarter (23 percent) unable to contribute to their retirement nest egg since the pandemic began.

Source: Pensionpulse.blogspot.com, November 2020

COVID-19 and Retirement Plan Fiduciary Obligations

COVID-19 has presented many challenges, including market volatility and business disruptions, which have placed added pressures on plan fiduciaries to comply with their ongoing obligations to prudently administer plans and plan investments. The steps outlined here will help employers and ERISA fiduciaries demonstrate prudence in plan operation and management and to mitigate their legal risk in response to the COVID-19 environment.

Source: Vanblacklaw.com, October 2020

CARES Act 401k Compliance Clean Up

The CARES Act provides several optional coronavirus-related relief provisions that employers may choose to incorporate into their 401k and other retirement plans. Those provisions include penalty-free benefit distributions of up to $100,000, a doubled maximum participant loan amount, and a one-year suspension of loan repayments for coronavirus-affected participants. Other relief provisions apply to participants who are not CAPs, such as the right to skip required minimum distributions for 2020. This article provides details on these relief provisions.

Source: Gct.law, October 2020

How the Coronavirus Is Affecting Retirement Saving

The coronavirus pandemic has caused upheavals in the markets, the workplace, and the home. What will be the effects on retirement savings? The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating an already troubling societal retirement saving shortfall as workers look to long-term retirement savings to solve short-term financial problems.

Source: Troweprice.com, October 2020

ERISA/Cybersecurity Considerations in the COVID Age

Plan fiduciaries are now faced with the detailed compliance requirements of ERISA and cybersecurity laws including data breach matters. So, what can fiduciaries do to minimize their cybersecurity liability?

Source: Foley.com, October 2020

Should I Take a 401k Loan During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

If you have a 401k, you may have considered tapping into it to get some relief from the current economic uncertainty. The CARES Act of March 2020 doubled the amount of money an employee could borrow from a 401k plan. Depending on your retirement funds' balance, a 401k loan could give you access to a large amount of money. But is it a good idea? Here's what you need to know.

Source: Foxbusiness.com, October 2020

IRS Offers Guidance on RMDs considering CARES Act and SECURE Act

The IRS issued Notice 2020-51, which gives guidance on the waiver of required minimum distributions for 2020 from certain retirement plans under the CARES Act and the required beginning date for RMDs under the SECURE Act. The Notice also provides two sample amendments that employers may use to give plan participants and beneficiaries whose RMDs are waived a choice of whether to receive the waived distribution.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, October 2020

After Layoffs, Employers Might Owe Unvested 401k Money

With mass layoffs commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers asked the IRS for advice on how to deal with the partial termination rule relating to employer contributions to their employees' 401k workplace retirement accounts. It's an obscure issue, but it's a big deal for the employees that it affects: It could mean thousands of dollars more credited to an employee's 401k account.

Source: Employeebenefitsblog.com, September 2020

CARES Act: How Are Plan Sponsors and Participants Reacting

Despite widespread anxiety in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, most 401k plan sponsors and participants are staying the course, according to new data. Data from Principal shows that as of Aug. 31, only 3.2% of participants with a coronavirus-related distribution available have taken one for the period March-August 2020. The average amount taken for a coronavirus withdrawal is $16,500.

Source: Napa-net.org, September 2020

COVID-19 401k Loans End With a Fizzle

The expanded 401k loan provisions under the CARES Act have come and gone and few people have likely noticed. The increased loan-size provision was part of a package to provide financial relief to people who have been affected by COVID-19. But very few have taken out loans, especially in the expanded amount allowed by the CARES Act, according to several 401k recordkeepers that track the data.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), September 2020

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Affecting Retirement Saving

The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating an already troubling societal retirement saving shortfall as workers look to long-term retirement savings to solve short-term financial problems. While the percentage of participants taking advantage of CARES Act provisions such as distributions and expanded loan options is low, doing so may undo years of retirement savings. Solutions like financial wellness can help shape future financial behaviors when balancing and reconciling short-term needs and long-term financial goals.

Source: Troweprice.com, September 2020

Relief for Distributing Summary Plan Descriptions

2020 is the year that ERISA 403b plan must issue summary plan descriptions to plan participants. Experts from Groom Law Group and Cammack Retirement Group answer questions concerning SPD distribution due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Planadviser.com, September 2020

IRS Expands List of Qualified Individuals Eligible for Coronavirus-Related Distributions

The IRS issued Notice 2020-50 to update and clarify certain provisions of Section 2202 of the CARES Act, which deals with the tax treatment of coronavirus-related distributions from eligible retirement plans for qualified individuals. The Notice expands the definition of a "qualified individual" eligible to take coronavirus-related distributions from their retirement plans.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, September 2020

How Might Coronavirus-Related Distributions Impact Retirement Benefits?

The CARES Act allows greater access to defined contribution plan balances. In this 1-page report, EBRI considers the impact on the future retirement security of American workers.

Source: Ebri.org, September 2020

A "Vaccine" for COVID-19 ERISA litigation

ERISA litigation tends to spike when economic uncertainty or turmoil rises. Although many things contribute to this historically verifiable trend, it is easiest for employers to think about just two of them. First, an employer-sponsored retirement plan, like a 401k or pension plan, is likely to suffer from market volatility. Second, employer-sponsored health and welfare plans will see upticks in claims issues during a health crisis. Here are some key considerations and preventive measures that every plan sponsor and fiduciary can monitor and implement to avoid a COVID-19-related spike in ERISA litigation.

Source: Constangy.com, September 2020

Coronavirus-Related Relief for Retirement Plans

Section 2202 of the CARES Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, provides for special distribution options and rollover rules for retirement plans and IRAs and expands permissible loans from certain retirement plans. In these questions and answers, the IRS provides Coronavirus-related relief for retirement plans and IRAs.

Source: Principal.com, September 2020

Latest 401k Lawsuit Filed in an Avalanche of COVID-19 Litigation

B. Braun Medical is among the latest companies sued so far this year in an unusual wave of 401k litigation. That company, which was sued Aug. 26 in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is among more than 60 others facing new claims this year, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Law.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), September 2020

Pandemic Prompts Shifts in Attitudes About Employee Benefits

Employees are mostly satisfied with their company's response to COVID-19, but there has been a change in sentiment concerning employee benefits, according to a series of surveys. The Hartford's Future of Benefits Study, which polled U.S. workers and human resources benefit decision-makers in early March 2020 just before the COVID-19 outbreak and again in mid-June, found that many employees continue to view their benefits positively, but their perceived value of the benefits provided and their trust in the company to make the best benefits decisions have declined.

Source: Ntsa-net.org, September 2020

Coronavirus and Retirement Plan Extension Relief

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, the IRS, and the Department of the Treasury extends several deadlines for retirement plan notifications and benefit plan claims required by Title I of ERISA.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, August 2020

More Employees are Taking Coronavirus-Related Distributions

The U.S. opened up retirement plans for participant withdrawals under the CARES Act, to act as a temporary solution for those without emergency savings. Almost a quarter of U.S. workers (22%) have borrowed money from their retirement accounts. That's what American Consumer Credit Counseling found in its new financial health index, which measured financial confidence among workers.

Source: Planadviser.com, August 2020

Workers Need More Help With Retirement Plans: Report

401k plan providers have improved service overall this year, but not when it comes to communicating about COVID-19, according to Cogent. Plan participants have a lot of questions about how to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and they haven't necessarily gotten answers from retirement plan providers and advisers.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), August 2020

Breaking Bad Behavior: Americans Leave Retirement Savings Alone

A bit of good behavioral news from Empower Retirement. The recordkeeping giant's Empower Institute finds that Americans are determined to keep their hands off their retirement savings even when faced with financial difficulties brought on by the worldwide pandemic. A survey reports that 401k participants and those with similar workplace plans would rather cut back on spending or dip into their savings accounts before touching their retirement savings.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, August 2020

Evidence Emerges of COVID-19's Impact on Forced Retirement

Unplanned retirement in the current crisis is higher than during the Great Recession, with women and people of color disproportionately affected, a report finds. Nearly 5 million people ages 55 to 70 have lost their jobs since March, and many of them are unlikely to return to the workforce, according to a report this week from The New School's Retirement Equity Lab.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), August 2020

Retirement Plans and Coronavirus: Take Steps to Protect Your Employees

Employers know their employees are stressed and worried about their retirement planning in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. The good news is there are steps you can take to help your employees and your business at the same time. Here's how.

Source: Hubinternational.com, August 2020

Avoiding COVID-19 Benefits-Related Litigation

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a staggering number of changes for employers in the past few months, requiring them to make significant changes to workplace processes and policies virtually on the fly. In this environment, it's important to review employee benefits plans to ensure these changes have not triggered any adverse consequences.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, August 2020

The Latest on Participant Behavior During the Pandemic

While various shifts were seen in savings plan contributions and withdrawals in the first few months of the outbreak, there have been some improvements as of late, according to data from Ascensus. In the first few months of the COVID outbreak, the firm reported on a relatively small percentage of retirement plans that had stopped making contributions altogether due to business interruptions. But on a more positive note, as of the end of June, most of these plans have shown encouraging signs of recovery and are taking steps to return to pre-pandemic levels of savings plan contributions.

Source: Napa-net.org, August 2020

CARES Act: Implications for Retirement Security of American Workers

What is the cost of effectively using defined contribution plans as emergency savings vehicles in this way when it comes to the future retirement security of American workers? Using the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Security Projection Model, EBRI simulates the impact on retirement balances as a multiple of pay at age 65 for scenarios where employees take full advantage of the CARES Act flexibility to access their defined contribution plan.

Source: Ebri.org, July 2020

How to Communicate Employee Benefits in Uncertain Times

As employers plan for open enrollment season careful consideration and planning should be given to how to communicate benefits holistically. If shelter in place orders and social distancing practices are still in effect during your enrollment window, it will also impact which communications channels are needed to reach employees.

Source: Voya.com, July 2020

Protecting Retirement Plan Participants and Your Company's Bottom Line When Employees Return to Work

Now that plan sponsors have had a few months to adjust to a "new normal," many are asking themselves, "Did we do enough to protect our business and plan participants from the pandemic"? With a new surge of infections predicted in the fall, plan sponsors want to know if there is more they can do with their benefit plan arrangements to protect themselves and plan participants from another economic downturn. This article provides an overview of the more common retirement plan issues facing plan sponsors along with suggestions for addressing these challenges.

Source: Icemiller.com, July 2020

CARES Act Special Considerations for 403b Plans

Participants in 403b plans may not be able to take as much in distributions and loans as provided for in the CARES Act. Also, they may not enjoy the savings provided by the elimination of tax penalties for early distributions in the same way other plan participants will. Participants invested in annuity contracts may face charges for distributions and limits on amounts they can take as a distribution or loan that they may not be aware of.

Source: Plansponsor.com, July 2020

Navigating RMD Waivers under the CARES Act

The CARES Act suspended required minimum distributions from certain retirement accounts for 2020. This waiver applies to any retirement account subject to RMDs, including 401ks, 403bs, 457bs, traditional IRAs, and IRA-based plans such as SEPs, SARSEPs, and SIMPLE IRAs. Here are some of the rules you need to know regarding RMD waivers under the CARES Act.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, July 2020

IRS Issues Guidance on 2020 Waiver of Required Minimum Distributions

Participants in defined contribution retirement plans can skip their required minimum distribution payments for 2020. If RMDs for 2020 have already been received, participants have until August 31, 2020 to rollover the RMD into an eligible retirement plan. The IRS issued sample plan amendments that employers may adopt to give participants and beneficiaries a choice as to whether or not to receive their 2020 RMD, and FAQs covering details of the 2020 RMD waiver.

Source: Hansonbridgett.com, July 2020

Retirement Plan Fiduciary Considerations in Context of COVID-19

Retirement plan fiduciaries are undoubtedly concerned about the effect of all the changes brought about by the pandemic and its effect on society and the stock market. Conducting a comprehensive review of a plan's investments, fees, and performance is in order to avoid litigation. Here are some considerations for fiduciaries navigating their duties in the wake of COVID-19.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, July 2020

Qualified Plan Loans and Coronavirus Related Distributions

Pursuant to Notice 2020-50, CRD-qualified individuals who experience a loan offset may treat such amounts as CRDs, regardless of whether the plan offers CRDs. Deemed distributions of defaulted loans, in contrast, may not be treated as CRDs, and are not eligible for rollover.

Source: Retirementlc.com, July 2020

COVID-19 & Beyond: The Need to Address Retirement Savings Access in the Workplace

As we begin to think about picking up the pieces from the coronavirus pandemic and its related impact on how Americans save, we again will come face to face with the pre-existing problems facing retirement savings in our country. The two main savings obstacles for workers today are access and participation. This piece focuses on the access part of the equation because you can't effectively begin to improve participation if there is no access.

Source: Georgetown.edu, July 2020

Retirement Savings in the Time of COVID-19: International Best Practices to Address Challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic downturn are negatively affecting retirement savings, retirement systems, plan sponsors, plan providers, and regulators. Policymakers are trying to respond rapidly to the crises related to COVID-19 and address the same issues, but their responses will depend on their specific circumstances. Nevertheless, countries can learn and benefit from each other.

Source: Georgetown.edu, July 2020

New IRS Guidance Expands Eligibility for 401k Plan COVID-19 Related Distributions and Loans

On June 19, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-50, along with a related news release, that provides official guidance on coronavirus-related distributions and temporarily expanded loans taken from 401k plans due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Notice expands the eligibility criteria for such distributions and loans, thereby potentially increasing the number of 401k plan participants able to take advantage of these features.

Source: Compliancedashboard.net, July 2020

Assessing the Effects of the CARES Act on 401k Savings

The CARES Act gives retirement savers added flexibility to access their 401k savings. And while this flexibility is helpful to many workers, it's encouraging that the vast majority have not needed to access their retirement savings and are staying the course on their journey to retirement. Less than 2% of participants had withdrawn assets via coronavirus-related distributions as of May 31, according to How America Saves 2020: The CARES Act. The decision to avoid tapping into retirement savings is consistent with other participant data.

Source: Vanguard.com, July 2020

Reporting Coronavirus-Related Distributions and Repayments

Employee benefits law has changed significantly, even if temporarily, under the CARES Act. Employees may now take a coronavirus-related distribution from a defined contribution retirement plan. The IRS has yet to provide official reporting guidance, but it is anticipated that the reporting process for CRDs will be similar to those already in place for Qualified Disaster Distributions as outlined in IRS Publication 976, Disaster Relief.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, July 2020

CARES Act FAQs for Retirement Plan Sponsors

COVID-related distributions, loans, RMD relief, and special consideration for Balance Forward plans.

Source: Futureplan.com, July 2020

CARES Act: Retirement Plan Provisions with Updates as of July 2020

On March 27, 2020, the President signed the CARES Act to provide a broad economic stimulus and Coronavirus relief for Americans. Here are the provisions impacting retirement plans and IRAs, updated to reflect the recent guidance provided by the IRS in Notices 2020-50 and 2020-51. These provisions were effective immediately once the President signed the bill, but for the most part, employers have a choice on whether they implement these changes for their plans.

Source: Tri-ad.com, July 2020

Coronavirus Benefits Lawsuits Have Begun

Former participants in a 401k profit-sharing plan recently filed suit in Federal court in New Jersey seeking recovery of investment losses allocated to their accounts by the employer-sponsor. The losses were incurred when the employer imposed a special valuation date of April 30, 2020, to reflect the plan's investment losses incurred during the COVID-19 lockdown. This mid-year valuation reduced the account balances available for distribution to the former participants.

Source: Gct.law, July 2020

NEPC's Defined Contribution Flash Poll

In the second quarter, NEPC conducted a flash poll on defined contribution plan sponsor views and reactions in light of COVID-19. The findings quell some of the largest fears about the potentially detrimental impact of the pandemic and economic disruption on retirement savings.

Source: Nepc.com, July 2020

Initial Impacts of Coronavirus on Global Defined Contribution Plans

This 6-page report provides a snapshot of initial policy responses related to participant access to DC plans in various global markets as of May 15, 2020. For context, while the coronavirus pandemic has affected 188 countries, the timing and intensity of the pandemic has varied significantly across the world. Country practices and retirement plan systems vary globally. As such, a country's policy decision may not only reflect their stance towards DC plan assets but also whether the country has a robust safety net or other significant sources of guaranteed income.

Source: Dciia.org, July 2020

IRS Provides COVID-19-Related Relief to Safe Harbor 401k Plans

The IRS released additional guidance to help employers cope with the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time, in Notice 2020-52, the IRS has clarified, and in some cases temporarily relaxed, rules governing when an employer with a safe harbor 401k plan can stop making safe harbor contributions without disqualifying the plan.

Source: Clarkhill.com, July 2020

IRS Offers Temporary Relief for Midyear Contribution Changes Under Safe Harbor Plans

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS has issued Notice 2020-52, offering safe harbor plan sponsors temporary relief from certain requirements applicable to midyear reductions or suspensions of safe harbor contributions. Notice 2020-52 also clarifies the requirements for midyear contribution reductions (during or after the pandemic) that affect only highly compensated employees participating in a safe harbor plan.

Source: Thomsonreuters.com, July 2020

Wave of Coronavirus Hardship Distributions Still Building

Low- to moderate-income retirement plan participants have mostly turned to reducing their spending levels and using credit cards to find financial relief during the pandemic; however, more will be turning to their retirement plans for liquidity, according to research from the nonprofit Commonwealth and the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association Retirement Research Center.

Source: Planadviser.com, July 2020

The IRS Expands Who is a Qualified Individual for Retirement Provisions of the CARES Act

The CARES Act permitted plan sponsors to make several discretionary amendments, giving participants greater access to their retirement savings, including the special coronavirus-related distributions, increased plan loan limits, and delayed plan loan repayments. The relief provided by these three discretionary amendments was only available for "qualified individuals." The IRS has recently amended the definition of a qualified individual through Notice 2020-50, expanding the relief to cover more individuals.

Source: Graydon.law, June 2020

Canadians Reducing Retirement Savings Due To Coronavirus

More than a third (40%) of pre-retirees have a negative outlook on their life in retirement, the highest rates of negative retirement perception among survey respondents since 2014, according to the latest annual survey by Fidelity Investments Canada. The same percentage said their salary or earnings have decreased due to the coronavirus pandemic. Among those negatively impacted, 50% are reducing the amount of money they’re able to save and the amount they’re able to invest, compared to last year.

Source: Benefitscanada.com, June 2020

CARES Act Gets Needed Expansion and Clarification

The IRS has significantly expanded the categories of "qualified individuals" who can receive distributions and loans with favorable tax treatment to include individuals who have suffered a pay cut and those whose spouses and household members have suffered an economic impact due to COVID-19. It also confirmed how to treat loans when qualified individuals have deferred payments during 2020 and explained how plans and individuals should report distributions for tax purposes.

Source: Dwt.com, June 2020

IRS Expands and Clarifies CARES Act Distribution Rules

The IRS clarified several eligibility, administrative, and tax reporting rules in IRS Notice 2020-50. The Notice provides safe harbors, a model certification, and information reporting codes. It is a must-read for those responsible for administering employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Source: Benefitslawadvisor.com, June 2020

More Details on CARES Act Eligibility and Plan Loan Guidance

The retirement industry eagerly received the IRS guidance on applying provisions of the CARES Act with the issuance of Notice 2020-50 on June 19. It has provided important details on compliance with this legislation, which offers financial and tax relief to millions of Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Ascensus.com, June 2020

Coronavirus May Shake Up DC Plan Participant Benefits

The COVID-19 crisis poses a big challenge for employers to rationalize the benefits they offer to employees. With budgets stretched and every dollar scrutinized, tough choices loom on DC plan offerings, in addition to programs like financial wellness.

Source: Alliancebernstein.com, June 2020

IRS Expands Definition of Qualified Individuals for Purposes of CARES Act Plan Distributions and Loans

On June 19, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service released Notice 2020-50 to help retirement plan participants affected by COVID-19 take advantage of the CARES Act provisions providing enhanced access to plan distributions and plan loans. Among other provisions, Notice 2020-50 expands the categories of individuals eligible for CARES Act distributions and loan treatment.

Source: Clarkhill.com, June 2020

How Exposed Are Retirement Savings to Market Risk?

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, the stock market declined by 35 percent between its February peak and March trough. While the market has largely recovered since then, it remains very volatile and exposes household savings to continued market risk. This 10-page paper documents where the declines occurred and the extent to which retirement accounts are exposed to equity market risk. The first section looks at overall trends in the stock market and household exposure. The second section breaks down the decline in equity values by source. And the third section focuses specifically on retirement assets.

Source: Bc.edu, June 2020

Guidance for Coronavirus-Related Distributions and Loans From Retirement Plans Under the CARES Act

This IRS notice provides guidance relating to the application of section 2202 of the CARES Act for qualified individuals and eligible retirement plans. The guidance in this notice is intended to assist employers and plan administrators, trustees and custodians, and qualified individuals in applying section 2202 of the CARES Act, including guidance on how plans may report coronavirus-related distributions.

Source: Irs.gov, June 2020

IRS Permits Remote Notarization of Participant Elections

The economic and societal lockdowns that have been imposed in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus have presented unique challenges, including some that may not have been contemplated when the lockdowns were instituted. Congress was quick to pass the CARES Act, which gave retirement plan participants greater access to their plan balances through expanded loan and hardship distribution provisions. However, a stumbling block quickly became apparent when plan provisions required spousal consent for some distributions or loans.

Source: Strategicbenefitservices.com, June 2020

Podcast Explores Retirement Plan Implications of CARES Act

The CARES Act has many provisions that will affect both defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans. In this podcast, Milliman's Charles Clark and Ginny Boggs talk about the CARES Act and its implications for retirement plans.

Source: Retirementtownhall.com, June 2020

Fiduciary Oversight of 401k Plans Is Vital During Uncertain Times

Plan Sponsors and those charged with the oversight of their 401k plan need to remain diligent in ensuring the safety of their participant's 401k accounts. Here are 11 items you need to make sure you're doing.

Source: Linkedin.com, June 2020

Simple Steps Toward Retirement Certainty in Uncertain Times

While the coronavirus pandemic has put the retirement security of all Americans at risk, there are actions they can take to put themselves in a better position, retirement plan experts say. Many people don’t know as much as they should about retirement and investments. There is no time like the present to learn.

Source: Planadviser.com, June 2020

Few Use CARES Act to Tap Retirement Savings

After the CARES Act was signed into law at the end of March, retirement plan sponsors prepared for an onslaught of COVID-19-related distributions and loans to employees hard hit by the pandemic. But few plan participants have exercised their options to tap retirement plan savings under the new relaxed rules, according to two new reports.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), June 2020

More Companies May Cut 401k Matches

The pandemic is affecting one of the best perks of workplace retirement-savings plans: company matches to employee 401k contributions. Many firms in the hard-hit hospitality and retail industries have already suspended, reduced, or deferred matches. As of late April, 12% of 816 companies with a total of 12 million workers had suspended matching contributions, according to a Willis Towers Watson survey. An additional 23% said they will or may halt them this year. Companies see suspensions as a way to boost cash flow and avoid or limit job cuts.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), June 2020

How Do Layoffs Affect Your Retirement Plan?

A significant reduction of employees can have a widespread impact on many aspects of a business, and can even impact an employer's retirement plan if the reduction has led to a "partial termination." Retirement plans that have experienced a partial termination are required to make all of the accounts of employees affected by a partial termination nonforfeitable. Failure to comply can result in a costly correction for the employer, and can even result in the loss of the plan's tax preferential status.

Source: Graydon.law, June 2020

IRS Now Permits Remote Witnessing of Participant Elections

In response to immediate requests from participants for tax-favored coronavirus-related distributions and loans, the IRS has issued Notice 2020-42, which provides temporary relief from the physical presence requirement for any participant election that needs to be witnessed by a notary public or a plan representative. The Notice gives plans and participants greater flexibility for participant elections, including spousal consents, that must be signed in person and witnessed by a notary or plan representative to be valid.

Source: Beneficiallyyours.com, June 2020

401ks Are a Source of Cash in Pandemic

The U.S. retirement savings system has always been a little leaky. But the leaks seem to be getting bigger. Some Americans are eyeing withdrawals from their 401k plans as the best of a few bad options for paying their rent or solving other cash-flow problems. As of May 8, 1.5 percent of retirement plan participants had taken some money out of their 401k plans under new federal legislation permitting penalty-free withdrawals, The Wall Street Journal reported. An April survey by the non-profit Transamerica Institute put the number of savers responding to the pandemic much higher, about one in five.

Source: Bc.edu, June 2020

Retirement Security for Women Amid COVID-19

A woman's path to a secure retirement is filled with obstacles. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges faced by women have further intensified with layoffs, furloughs, or extended periods working from home and balancing job responsibilities with homeschooling children and, possibly, caregiving for an aging parent or loved one. The goal of this research is two-fold: 1) to raise awareness of the retirement risks that women face, and 2) to highlight opportunities for women to take greater control of their finances and their futures.

Source: Transamericacenter.org, June 2020

IRS Allows Remote Notarization of Participant Elections for 2020

The IRS issued Notice 2020-42 to provide temporary relief for certain participant elections required to be witnessed in the "physical presence" of a plan representative or notary public, including spousal consents. The Notice is a welcomed response to the major challenges posed by the social distancing measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it provides plan administrators with additional flexibility to use remote notarization and similar services for all of 2020.

Source: Groom.com, June 2020

Participant Communications Specific to the Pandemic

A recent Buck survey showed that 62% of defined contribution plan sponsors plan to increase their financial education communications. And there is certainly an increased need. Elizabeth Woodburn, with Buck, describes what elements DC plan sponsors may consider including in participant communications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Plansponsor.com, June 2020

DC Plan Response to CARES Act Varied by Industry and Recordkeeper, Survey

Callan conducted a mid-April survey to assess what defined contribution plan sponsors have done in response to the CARES Act and the recent economic turmoil spurred by the pandemic. The survey includes responses from 63 non-government plan sponsors, and in general, found that plan sponsor actions were primarily influenced by the industry they are in and the actions taken by their recordkeeper.

Source: Callan.com, May 2020

Cash Flow Considerations Related to DC Retirement Plans Under COVID-19

In the last three months, many employers have had significant decreases in their top-line revenue and have attempted to cut costs to offset that revenue decrease. The IRS has provided relief to retirement plans through the CARES's act to assist plan participants to manage through these difficult times. This article shares some strategies for managing cash flows as it relates to defined contribution retirement plans from an employer perspective.

Source: Meadenmoore.com, May 2020

COVID-19 Employee Benefits Round-Up

The legal and regulatory response to COVID-19 continues to modify the compliance landscape for employers, and this includes new requirements and options for employer-sponsored health and retirement plans. Read this 2-page review to learn more about some of the recent changes.

Source: Barran.com, May 2020

Six Considerations for Plan Fiduciaries During the Covid-19 Pandemic

ERISA fiduciaries may want to identify steps they should be taking and decisions they should be considering to adjust their process in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. This article identifies six such points that could be appropriate for consideration by retirement plan fiduciaries, such as fiduciary committees, as the pandemic and related economic fallout continue to evolve.

Source: Morganlewis.com, May 2020

401k Plan Sponsor Issues During This Coronavirus Pandemic

As a 401k plan sponsor, it's more likely than not that this pandemic has had a negative impact on your business and probably your retirement plan. As a business owner, there are some tough decisions that you've had to make or will make concerning your business that will also affect your 401k plan. This article is all about important considerations concerning your 401k plan as it relates to Coronavirus.

Source: Jdsupra.com, May 2020

The DOL Provides Limited Relief to Retirement Plans and Their Fiduciaries in Dealing With the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Employee Benefits Security Administration issued Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01. The Notice addresses the following issues as impacted by the Pandemic: (i) deadlines for providing participant disclosures and notices; (ii) procedures for plan fiduciaries to authorize loans and distributions, and the timing for adopting amendments under the CARES Act; (iii) delays in making deposits of participant contributions and loan repayments; (iv) failures to provide advance notice of a blackout period; (v) extension of certain Form 5500 filing deadlines, and; (6) relaxed enforcement of compliance with ERISA’s fiduciary standards. This article focuses on the impact of the Notice on retirement plans and the relief it provides to plan fiduciaries and their advisers.

Source: Truckerhuss.com, May 2020

COVID-19: Recent Extensions and Relief for Retirement Plans

In recognition of the difficulties faced by retirement plan sponsors, participants, and beneficiaries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new guidance extends the deadlines for notices and disclosures required by Title I of ERISA and extends deadlines for retirement plan participants and beneficiaries to submit benefit claims and benefit appeals. The new guidance also provides some fiduciary relief for electronic disclosures, incomplete plan loan or distribution documentation, as well as delayed participant contributions and loan repayments.

Source: Mwe.com, May 2020

House-Passed Stimulus Bill Includes RMD Relief, PPP Clarity

Included among the retirement-based provisions are additional relief from required minimum distributions, clarifications to the retirement provisions enacted under the CARES Act, funding relief for single-employer pension plans, relief for troubled multiemployer pension plans and an assortment of other changes.

Source: Asppa.org, May 2020

Pandemic Highlights Reasons for Reviewing Plan Fees

The events of the past few months have had a dramatic impact on nearly every business. Now, more than ever is a time to review expenses and cut back where possible. One possible area to explore cost savings is in your 401k or other related retirement savings plan. Plan sponsors might start here for a variety of reasons. Here are some insights.

Source: Plansponsor.com, May 2020

Who Qualifies for Coronavirus-Related Distributions?

Section 2202 of the CARES Act gives favorable tax treatment to certain retirement plan distributions. If a distribution qualifies as a "coronavirus-related distribution," the recipient gets special breaks. The retirement plans charged with administering these rules do not have to worry, they can rely on the employee's self-certification that he or she passes the CRD qualification tests.

Source: Morningstar.com, May 2020

DC Plan Participants Continue to Save During COVID-19 Pandemic

Americans continued to save for retirement through defined contribution plans early this year despite uncertain market conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study tracks contributions, withdrawals, and other activity, based on DC plan recordkeeper data covering more than 30 million participant accounts in employer-based DC plans.

Source: Ici.org, May 2020

IRS Issues CARES Act Guidance: Retirement Plan Distribution and Loan Provisions

The IRS recently issued guidance in the form of questions and answers regarding the retirement provisions of the CARES Act set forth in Section 2202. While not addressing all open issues, the Q&As provide retirement plan sponsors with a number of helpful clarifications regarding the CARES Act retirement provisions.

Source: Bsk.com, May 2020

CARES Act Required Minimum Distribution Rules: Helping Your Clients Deal with the Issues

This article outlines CARES Act provisions that affect your plan sponsor clients, plan participants and IRA clients, so you can help them navigate the new rules. It also addresses the rules on required minimum distributions (RMDs).

Source: Brokerdealerlawblog.com, May 2020

COVID-19 and Late Remittances of Employee Deferrals to 401k Plans

What many employers have not focused on doing is ensuring that employee contributions (elective deferrals and loan repayments) to their 401k plans continue to be deposited into the plans in a timely manner. Recently, and in light of COVID-19, the DOL, in EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01, issued guidance intended to relax the timely remittance requirement for employers unable to satisfy the general rules.

Source: Benefitslawadvisor.com, May 2020

Summary Table and In-Depth Analysis of COVID-19 Legislation

To assist employers and public retirement systems with the myriad of changes, Ice Miller has cataloged the provisions of the FFCRA and CARES Act that impacts employer-sponsored retirement plans, health plans, and other benefits in a table format. They have summarized the statutory provisions as well as related regulatory guidance that has been issued as of the date of this publication. The table includes a high-level discussion of the law and practical considerations. For a more in-depth analysis, they have provided a comprehensive discussion of each provision.

Source: Icemiller.com, May 2020

Suspending 401k Match Raises Compliance Issues

Many employers may be considering a temporary suspension of their 401k matching contributions as a cost-saving measure. This 7-page article identifies several technical compliance issues for employers to consider before reducing or suspending a 401k match.

Source: Mercer.com, May 2020

New IRS Guidance Answers Pressing CARES Act Questions for Retirement Plans

On May 4th, the IRS released a set of FAQs focused on the special coronavirus-related distribution and plan loan options under the CARES Act. The FAQs offer helpful guidance for sponsors of retirement plans who are considering adding special distribution and/or loan options for participants affected by COVID-19.

Source: Erisapracticecenter.com, May 2020

IRS Posts Initial Guidance on Coronavirus-Related Loans and Distributions

The IRS posted 14 Questions and Answers on its website regarding the special retirement plan distribution options and loan provisions made available to certain qualified participants under the CARES Act. These Q&As answer many of the questions that plan sponsors and third-party administrators have been grappling with since the CARES Act was enacted.

Source: Spencerfane.com, May 2020

Is That COVID-19 Distribution Subject to State Taxes?

For many households, COVID-19 distributions from qualified plans and IRAs may be a welcome backstop against the financial challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. But those receiving those distributions (and those who process them) need to be aware of the potential sting of state tax liability due to differences between federal and state tax rules.

Source: Napa-net.org, May 2020

New Relief for Employee Benefit Plans and Participants

Providing sweeping relief to employee benefit plan sponsors, participants, and beneficiaries impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, the Employee Benefits Security Administration joined with the IRS to extend deadlines to effectively pause the compliance clock for the duration of the outbreak. The guidance was released in three documents.

Source: Foxrothschild.com, May 2020

IRS Answers Some FAQs on Coronavirus-Related Distributions and Loans

On May 4, 2020, the IRS provided guidance on coronavirus-related distributions and coronavirus-related loans and loan payment delays in the form of FAQs. In those FAQs, the IRS answered a few of the questions that many practitioners, administrators, and employers have been asking.

Source: Benefitsnotes.com, May 2020

The IRS Speaks: Retirement Plan Coronavirus Loan Relief

The IRS has issued some initial guidance on the coronavirus-related relief for retirement plans under the CARES Act in the form of Q&As on its website. Most of the Q&As address coronavirus-related distributions, while one Q&A provides some IRS insight relating to the loan relief, referencing an old IRS Notice that answered questions about the loan relief issued after Hurricane Katrina.

Source: Beneficiallyyours.com, May 2020

DC Plan Communications in the Age of COVID-19

Communicating with retirement plan participants is always important. Aside from law and regulation requiring it, such communications can serve participants well and help make a retirement plan more effective and meaningful. But doing so during a pandemic poses challenges and can require adjustments. This article offers ideas on communicating with DC plan participants in times like these.

Source: Asppa.org, May 2020

DOL Filing Deadlines and Fiduciary Relief for Retirement Plans

Fiduciaries and administrators of private-sector retirement plans will be relieved to learn that the Department of Labor has issued guidance in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This disaster relief guidance was published on April 28, 2020, in Notice 2020-01 and is reviewed here.

Source: Segalco.com, May 2020

Pandemic May Stall Implementation of Certain DC Plan Decisions

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have plan sponsors contemplating what to do about scheduled re-enrollments, the RFP process, and fund mapping during recordkeeper conversions. Not knowing how long the current market climate will last, many plan sponsors are questioning whether and when they should move forward with such plan decisions.

Source: Plansponsor.com, May 2020

So Far, Easing 401k Access Prevails During COVID-19 Pandemic

Many employers are taking steps to make it easier for employees to access their 401k plans under the CARES Act, but some are considering more drastic action, according to new survey results. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) in the latest pulse survey by Willis Towers Watson increased access to in-service distributions from participants' 401k accounts while 16% either plan to or are considering doing so this year.

Source: Napa-net.org, May 2020

IRS Q&As Provide Some Guidance on Retirement Plan COVID-19-Related Relief

The IRS has issued guidance in Q&A format on the special IRA and retirement plan relief granted in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. This relief is intended to aid those affected by the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted the health and economic welfare, or both, of many Americans.

Source: Ascensus.com, May 2020

The Cares Act: Things to Consider Before Implementation

We are witnessing an understandable rush to make decisions that provide relief to employees, plan participants, and employers. But it is important to take a brief pause at this time to review the interplay and flexibility of these relief programs and the possible administrative and communication problems.

Source: Smithdowney.com, May 2020

Coronavirus Fiduciary Investment Claims: A Look at Retirement Plans

The plaintiff bar is seeking recovery on a new and elevated standard of care that has not been articulated by the DOL or fiduciary regulation. Plan sponsors are now subject to expensive litigation and inconsistent standards for retirement plan fees, with results largely based on the proclivities of the judge to whom the case is assigned or in which circuit the case is filed. This is contrary to the stated purpose of ERISA to avoid "litigation expenses" that "unduly discourage employers from offering [such] plans."

Source: Euclidspecialty.com, May 2020

CARES Act Myths

More than one month has passed since the enactment of the CARES Act, yet there are still many widely held misconceptions about the retirement plan-related provisions. This article attempts to dispel some of those myths.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, May 2020

Plan Sponsor Due Diligence in a Demanding Time for Recordkeepers

While recordkeepers are under considerable pressure, they are showing compassion for plan sponsors and participants during the coronavirus pandemic. From waiving fees to offering additional financial help, retirement plan recordkeepers, third-party administrators and advisers, as well as financial wellness providers, are stepping up to assist plan sponsors and employees in several ways. Plan sponsors can, in turn, show compassion for their recordkeepers, while at the same time ensuring their plans are operating smoothly.

Source: Plansponsor.com, May 2020

Can Plans Rely on Virtual Notarization?

In response to the logistical challenges created by the Coronavirus pandemic, some states are taking steps to authorize virtual notarization. Given the unprecedented circumstances and the various notary-based requirements to conduct business transactions in person, these developments could be particularly important for retirement plan administrators.

Source: Napa-net.org, May 2020

EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01

The Department of Labor recognizes that the COVID-19 outbreak may temporarily impede efforts to comply with various requirements and deadlines under ERISA. This notice provides guidance and relief for employee benefit plans due to the covid-19 outbreak and applies to employee benefit plans, employers, labor organizations, and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, participants and beneficiaries, and service providers subject to ERISA from March 1, 2020, until 60 days after the announcement of the end of the COVID-19 national emergency.

Source: Dol.gov, May 2020

Working Through DC Plan Communications in a Pandemic

In this time of heightened market volatility and economic uncertainty, employees are trying to figure out what to do. They have questions about their retirement savings plan accounts and their finances in general. And because employers are a trusted source of information, their natural inclination is to turn to you for answers. Here are three areas to review as you develop your DC plan communications for the remainder of 2020.

Source: Buck.com, May 2020

DOL Announces Significant Deadline Extensions and Other Disaster Relief for Employee Benefit Plans

The DOL, joined and coordinated in part by the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, and Department of Health and Human Services, has released several documents providing deadline extensions for employee benefit plans during the COVID-19 disaster period and enforcement relief concerning certain compliance requirements. The changes were described generally in a DOL news release, and more formal guidance was outlined in new final regulations, and EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01.

Source: Bradley.com, May 2020

Approving QDROs During Court and Government Office Closures

Due to widespread court closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it may be difficult for participants or their attorneys to obtain a certified copy of a domestic relations order that many retirement plans require as part of the procedures for processing qualified domestic relations orders. To address this issue, plans might consider adopting temporary procedures that allow for the continued qualification and processing of QDROs during these extraordinary circumstances without creating permanent exceptions to their normal QDRO procedures.

Source: Morganlewis.com, April 2020

The Impact of the CARES Act on 401k and Other DC Plans

In enacting rules governing distributions from tax-qualified retirement plans, Congress has historically sought to strike a balance between encouraging retirement savings while at the same time recognizing that there are instances in which participants may have legitimate reasons to access funds before they retire. The CARES Act contains several provisions that enable plan sponsors to provide plan participants with access to funds in defined contribution retirement plans and individual retirement accounts to pay for unanticipated costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Mintz.com, April 2020

Catch-up Contributions Being Weighed in Congress

A congressman is floating a proposal that would funnel more assets into tax-deferred retirement accounts by tripling the contribution limits for the rest of this year.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), April 2020

Expanding E-delivery, Deadlines, EBSA Announces Filing Relief

The DOL's Employee Benefits Security Administration has issued "deadline relief and other guidance" related to the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, including expanded "good faith" application of electronic delivery.

Source: Asppa.org, April 2020

How Saver and Employer Behaviors Are Evolving in Response to COVID-19

Proprietary data from Ascensus reveals how U.S. employees shifted their savings behaviors in March 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak caused major disruption to the U.S. economy and financial markets. The following insights serve as an early baseline of how contribution and withdrawal behaviors have evolved in response to the pandemic.

Source: Ascensus.com, April 2020

COVID-19 May Affect Nondiscrimination Testing

Because of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, DC plan sponsors may be making changes that can affect actual deferral percentage and actual contribution percentage test results: laying off or furloughing employees, reducing employees' salaries, reducing or suspending company matches, for example. Also, plan participants may make changes to their deferral rates, which can also affect nondiscrimination testing. Because of these changes, plan sponsors may want to consider sample testing to project outcomes and take steps to avoid failed testing.

Source: Plansponsor.com, April 2020

IRS Extends Deadline for Forms 5500 Due Before July 15, 2020

On April 9, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-23 to extend key tax deadlines for individuals and businesses in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This new tax relief is provided under Section 7508A of the Internal Revenue Code, which gives the IRS authority to postpone deadlines for taxpayers affected by federally declared disasters.

Source: Cowdenassociates.com, April 2020

Ontario Employers Permitted to Suspend DC Pension Contributions, Says FSRA

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario has confirmed it will permit a suspension of employer contributions to defined contribution pension plans temporarily. However, any change to either employer or employee contributions can only be on a go-forward basis and must be supported by an amendment to the plan text.

Source: Benefitscanada.com, April 2020

DC Plan Sponsor Fiduciary Torch Is Brighter and Can Help Light Dark Days

Defined contribution plan sponsors are putting more importance on their fiduciary duties, based on results from a recent survey. It also saw more plan sponsors turning to third parties for guidance as well as a growing appreciation for professional training and fee transparency. This is especially welcome news as sponsors face the disruption of their plans and their participants are grappling with market unsettledness caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Source: Alliancebernstein.com, April 2020

COVID-19 World: Reducing or Suspending Company Contributions to a 401k or 403b Plan

In response to the current economic crisis caused by COVID-19, many companies are considering cost-savings measures to improve their companies' financial stability. One such cost-saving option is the reduction or suspension of company contributions to a company's 401k or 403b plan. The procedure for and the implications of such suspension will depend on the plan terms, including whether the contribution is intended to be a "safe harbor" contribution.

Source: Spotlightonbenefits.com, April 2020

How Coronavirus Has Impacted Retirement Confidence

Workers' overall confidence in their ability to live comfortably in retirement remains steady, while the share who feel very confident continues to increase, according to the 2020 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates.

Source: Planadviser.com, April 2020

IRS Extends Various 401k Deadlines in Response to COVID-19 Crisis

The Internal Revenue Service released Notice 2020-23 which, among other things, extends several recent deadlines applicable to retirement plans (including 401k plans), as well as to other employee benefit plans and arrangements. Generally stated, Notice 2020-23 automatically extends deadlines for certain "time-sensitive acts" that would otherwise fall on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020.

Source: Compliancedashboard.net, April 2020

New Bill Would Triple Retirement Plan Contribution Limits for 2020

Rep. Patrick McHenry has introduced the Securing Additional Value for Every Retirement Saver (SAVERS) Act, legislation that would permit increased annual contributions to tax-qualified retirement savings arrangements for 2020. The legislation would raise the annual contribution limitations to 300 percent of previously announced limits for 2020 (not to exceed applicable compensation).

Source: Ascensus.com, April 2020

DC Plan Sponsors Reacting With Moderation to Coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic and its effect on the stock market caused speculation in the retirement plan industry about whether plan sponsors would react with changes to their retirement plans as they did in past market crises. There was also concern about how the market drop and subsequent reaction would affect participants' retirement security. A PLANSPONSOR survey finds relatively few are taking action to suspend or decrease contributions, and they are prudently relying on providers for guidance.

Source: Plansponsor.com, April 2020

Employers Start to Suspend Their 401k Match

The employer match of employee contributions is an important characteristic of 401k plans. The match was designed to encourage participation and contributions, particularly by lower-paid employees. However, at a growing number of companies, the employer match has become a casualty of the COVID-19 crisis and ensuing economic collapse. Will employers, as in previous recessions, restore the match as the economy recovers?

Source: Marketwatch.com, April 2020

Stop and Review COVID-19 Distribution and 401k Loan Forms Carefully

The CARES Act authorizes employers to make changes to their qualified retirement plans to increase loan limits, delay loan repayments, and make distributions to plan participants experiencing certain COVID-19 related circumstances. Due to a lack of guidance from the IRS, there's confusion among third-party administrators about how to administer these changes, resulting in potential issues with forms used by TPAs to approve these CARES Act loan and distribution changes.

Source: Employeebenefitslawreport.com, April 2020

CARES Act Loan Provision: The "Fly in the Ointment"

It turns out that there is a quirk in the CARES Act provisions regarding COVID-19 loans that are giving plan sponsors a reason to pause. This issue is that while the CARES Act allows an increase in the loan limits for borrowers who qualify for a COVID-19 loan ($100,000 or 100% of a participant's vested account balance, if less), it did not extend the repayment terms. Thus, the loan must be repaid over five years, unless used to acquire a primary residence.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, April 2020

Coronavirus-Related Distributions Are NOT "Eligible Rollover Distributions" but They Can Be Rolled Over

To address the novel Coronavirus, the CARES Act has created a novel type of distribution from retirement plans: the Coronavirus-Related Distribution. It is a "rolloverable" distribution that is NOT considered an Eligible Rollover Distribution for certain purposes, such as withholding. Although a CRD can be rolled over to another qualified plan or IRA directly or within three years of its distribution, it is only subject to the optional 10% withholding applicable to distributions that are not eligible to be rolled over.

Source: Belfint.com, April 2020

Impact of Furloughs and Layoffs on Corporate DB and DC Plans

During this COVID-19 public health emergency and the accompanying financial turmoil, many employers are finding it necessary to furlough or layoff a significant number of employees. These workforce reductions can potentially have some important implications for single-employer DB and DC plans in the private sector that are often overlooked.

Source: Segalco.com, April 2020

DC Plan Sponsors Reacting With Moderation to Coronavirus

The novel coronavirus pandemic and its effect on the stock market caused speculation in the retirement plan industry about whether plan sponsors would react with changes to their retirement plans as they did in past market crises. There was also concern about how the market drop and subsequent reaction would affect participants' retirement security. PLANSPONSOR fielded a pulse survey on April 7 through 10. Responses were received from 387 DC plan sponsors from a wide range of employer sizes.

Source: Plansponsor.com, April 2020

Providers' Responses to COVID-19

From waiving fees to offering additional financial help, retirement plan recordkeepers, third-party administrators and advisers, as well as financial wellness providers are stepping up to assist plan sponsors and employees in many ways during the novel coronavirus pandemic. This is a listing of the latest announcements.

Source: Planadviser.com, April 2020

Impact of COVID-19 on the Adviser Industry

Retirement specialist advisers are helping plan sponsors make tough choices about plan designs, especially the expansion of loan and hardship withdrawal provisions now permitted under the CARES Act. Such work is certainly building loyalty and goodwill among the client base, sources agree, but it is also important for firm leaders to step back from these efforts to take stock of how this situation is affecting their businesses. Not only is this prudent from a client service perspective, but it also can help staff gain an important piece of mind during an incredibly stressful time.

Source: Planadviser.com, April 2020

Extended Deadlines for Benefit Plans Granted by the IRS

Earlier this month, the IRS announced that it had extended deadlines for filing federal income tax returns and making tax payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a small effect on benefit plans. The IRS has since amplified this relief through Notice 2020-23 and provided additional relief that is more significant for benefit plans.

Source: Graydon.law, April 2020

Waiver of Required Minimum Distributions

For defined contribution plans and IRAs, the CARES Act provides temporary relief from the required minimum distribution rules. The following chart explains this relief in the context of plans; the rules for IRAs are much the same.

Source: Fredreish.com, April 2020

401khelpcenter.com, LLC is not the author of the material referenced in this digest unless specifically noted. The material referenced was created, published, maintained, or otherwise posted by institutions or organizations independent of 401khelpcenter.com, LLC. 401khelpcenter.com, LLC does not endorse, approve, certify, or control this material and does not guarantee or assume responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, efficacy, or timeliness of the material. Use of any information obtained from this material is voluntary, and reliance on it should only be undertaken after an independent review of its accuracy, completeness, efficacy, and timeliness. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, service mark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by 401khelpcenter.com, LLC.

About | Glossary | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact Us

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.