DOL Mulls Boost for Retirement Plan Qualified Default Investments

Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...

By Sean Forbes

Nov. 17 — The Department of Labor will seek information to determine whether to give fiduciary relief for qualified default investment alternatives, the agency said in its fall 2016 regulatory agenda.

The proposal (RIN:1210-AB77) is in the pre-rule stage, and is expected to be published in the Federal Register early next year. The DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration said it will consider whether, and to what extent, regulatory amendments are appropriate to facilitate the use of lifetime income products and features as, or as part of, QDIAs. The EBSA said it will launch its review with a request for information.

The EBSA also moved four items to the final rule stage:

  •  an amendment to the claims procedures regulations, which “is intended to strengthen, improve, and update the current disability benefit claims and appeals process under” Section 503 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (RIN:1210-AB39);
  •  an amendment of the abandoned plan program regulations to determine whether and how to expand the scope of individuals entitled to be a “qualified termination administrator” (RIN:1210-AB47);
  •  adoption and amendment of the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (RIN:1210-AB64); and
  •  regulations that would allow municipalities to establish non-ERISA retirement plans for private-sector employees (RIN:1210-AB76).

The EBSA finalized rules in August to allow states to establish non-ERISA retirement plans for private-sector employees. California, Illinois, Maryland and several other states have moved forward with such initiatives, focusing on payroll-deduction individual retirement accounts. New York and Philadelphia have recently released proposals that also include payroll-deduction IRAs, as well as other options such as city-sponsored multiple employer plans.

Two items on the EBSA’s agenda are at the proposed rule stage:

  •  an amendment to allow electronic filing of apprenticeship and training notices and top hat plan statements (RIN:1210-AB62), and
  •  modernization of the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan Series (RIN:1210-AB63).

One of the primary objectives of the Form 5500 modernization project is to make its financial reporting aspects more data-mineable.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sean Forbes in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at

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