Business of Benefits

Business of Benefits

Category Archives: Lifetime Income

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Is Lifetime Income’s Future-and, Ultimately, That of Retirement Security- Through the IRA?

Posted in Auto-IRA, IRA, IRA Fintech, Lifetime Income, QLAC, QLAC IRA, Retirement Plan Securities Issues
IRAs, for whatever reason, are stealthily changing the retirement future. When you look closely at their structures, they can be designed to be incredibly flexible (though often "off-the-shelf" IRAs are not). There are a number of major "houses" which provide the technical and legal support for "plug and play" investment arrangements (though, admittedly, there are a few SEC rules which need to be changed to make them really work well). They provide a personal platform through which retirees can consolidate their assets in a way which can better serve their retirement in ways an employer sponsored DC or DB plan cannot.… Continue Reading

Auditing Distributed 403(b) (and 401(a)) Contracts

Posted in 403(b), Lifetime Income, Plan Administration
How do you audit a 403(b) in-kind distribution? There is no financial transaction, no cash changes hands, there is no change in investments. It really is only a nominal change in the records of the insurer. Yet, somehow, GAAP requires that the "transaction" be verified. There is no answer, yet, to this question, which means the industries (that is, auditors, insurers, and lawyers) will be pressed for finding a standardized approach for bringing audit certainty to this process. It even becomes a bigger issue than 403(b)s: QLACs and other distributed annuity contracts are all able to be distributed as "in-kind" distributions from 401(a) plans as well, and there is no acceptable "recordkeeping" method to audit.… Continue Reading

DOL and Lifetime Income

Posted in Lifetime Income
Even with all of the interest in the Fiduciary Rule, the DOL is still paying attention to lifetime income-so much so that the Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (the “QLAC”, established by the IRS) was granted broad relief under the Rule. This relief is so favorable that one of the claims being brought in the 5… Continue Reading

DOL Provides Key ERISA Guidance on QLAC/DC Lifetime Income

Posted in Fiduciary Issues, Lifetime Income
The DOL just published its first serious guidance on supporting lifetime income with the publication of FAB 2015-2, guidance which is very necessary for the success of the Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts, as well as DC lifetime income income. The FAB is an initial, but substantial, step in addressing one of the most pressing of the ERISA issues related to providing lifetime income from defined contribution plans.… Continue Reading

The 403(b) QLAC

Posted in Lifetime Income, Uncategorized
The QLAC seems to be in the 403(b) “sweet spot”, considering that 403(b) annuities were originally designed to provide lifetime income in the first place. However, as with all things 403(b), however, there are a few unusual twists when trying to put a QLAC in a 403(b) arrangement. Here are a few of the things to consider… Continue Reading

DOL’s Proposed Fiduciary Rules May Unexpectedly Open Lifetime Income Door, If…….

Posted in DOL Proposed Fiduciary Regs, Fiduciary Issues, Lifetime Income
With regard to the DOL's fiduciary proposed regulations, There is much to like in the new rules; some troubling things; and, perhaps, a mistake or two which will be all flushed out in the coming months. There are a couple of technical points which are worthwhile sharing because they represent what we can expect of the "unexpected" as we work through the changes' impact. These include the impact on lifetime income , and the application of the PT rules on the purchase of annuities-including QLACs.… Continue Reading

State Auto-IRAs and Federal Law: “We’ve already stepped on that rake…..”

Posted in 403(b), Auto-IRA, Automatic Workplace Pension, B/D-IA Issues, Lifetime Income, Retirement Plan Securities Issues, Uncategorized
Chuck Thulin, a fine ERISA attorney from Seattle, WA, chaired the DOL practitioner panel at the latest (and very successful) annual meeting of the 5 regional TE/GE Councils, in Baltimore.  When I commented that we’d  “been there, done that” when discussing some obscure rule,  he told me of reading of the Russian language version of that… Continue Reading

Myth-Busting the Ratings Allure: Fiduciary Risk From Use of Ratings In Purchase of Lifetime Income Products

Posted in Fiduciary Issues, Lifetime Income
 Guaranteed lifetime income from a DC plan requires a contract with a life insurance company. Period. Even if the program is provided by a mutual fund company, a bank, or any other non-governmental entity, insurance companies are the only businesses which can issue to DC plans a contract guaranteeing lifetime income. Choosing the right insurer… Continue Reading

A Useful Compendium of Lifetime Income Guidance for Defined Contribution Plans

Posted in Fiduciary Issues, Lifetime Income
bookshelves sizedWe have been extensively researching, writing on and developing the concept of providing lifetime income from defined contribution plans for some 15 years. The work has resulted in a patent; several major independantly published research papers; the  outlining of some of the important concepts which underline the proposed QLAC regs and its key revenue ruling; and… Continue Reading

A Regulatory and Fiduciary Framework for Providing Lifetime Income from Defined Contribution Plans

Posted in Lifetime Income, Lifetime Income Published Papers
A more complete and up to date description of how lifetime income can work in a DC plan is in order. Evan Giller (newly Of Counsel with Boutwell and Faye) and I put together the attached piece entitled "Regulatory and Fiduciary Framework for Providing Lifetime Income from Defined Contribution Plans." It is originally appearing in the New York University Review of Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation - 2013. Published by LexisNexis Matthew Bender. Copyright 2013 New York University." In the paper, we've drawn upon our long experience with retirement plan annuities, mixing it well with all of these new developments.… Continue Reading

Aggregation Models, Plan Loan Insurance, Lifetime Income Patents: Addressing Retirement Security by “Looking Through the Wrong End of a Telescope”

Posted in Fiduciary Issues, Lifetime Income, Multiple Employer Plans
In an almost stealth-like way, innovation is creeping into the marketplace and creating ways to address critical retirement issues, even without an incubator. Though these programs can do little to address what I view as the basic retirement inadequacy issue-that is, employers are generally moving away from the traditional notion of building adequate retirement programs into their employment models-they are making progress toward making the best of what we've got.… Continue Reading

The “Stable Value” Guaranteed Separate Account; Greetings to the TE/GE Councils Annual Meeting

Posted in Fiduciary Issues, Lifetime Income
There are many insurance separate accounts which really are invested like stable value funds from collective trusts, for example. But if it has guarantees of principal or interest-the "guaranteed separate account"-the risk just moves down a level, and the investor in the guaranteed separate account is still subject to an insurer's insolvency risk. So, instead of the insurer standing up for the value of the guarantees, and how well the insolvency risk is managed and priced into the product, the risk is instead hidden and not discussed.… Continue Reading

Suggestions for Regulatory Next Steps to Accommodate DC Annuities

Posted in Lifetime Income
Both of these agencies (Treasury and DOL) continue to attempt to support this process, using their existing regulatory authority. Though there are a number of things which probably need legislative action in order to really make guaranteed lifetime income readily available, there are still a few things regulators may want to consider doing to help it all along… Continue Reading

BNA’s “First Steps to Modernizing DC Annuitization: QLACs and Revenue Ruling 2012-3”

Posted in Lifetime Income, Lifetime Income Published Papers
For those of you who do not subscribe to BNA, BNA published as an "Insight" an article I wrote on QLAC and Rev Rul 2012-3 (yes, my author agreement permits me to post it here, with attribution).  Look for Paul Hamburger’s upcoming related article, delving into a number of technical and policy issues they raise,… Continue Reading

QLAC and the Fiduciary Standard in the Commercial Pooling of Interest

Posted in Lifetime Income
The Treasury’s issuance of proposed regulations introducing the "Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract" is a substantial step in the efforts to better provide plan participants the ability to use their defined contribution balances to plan for retirement security. One of the QLAC’s most useful effects is that it gives us a "base," a laboratory of sorts,… Continue Reading

Insurance Is Not A Product

Posted in Lifetime Income
I cringed in horror as I listened to the Supreme Court debate on health care reform, and not for the reasons you may otherwise suspect. What concerned me greatly, and which is something which ultimately has an impact on the retirement industry, was the common reference by SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the Untied States)  to… Continue Reading

How DC Annuitization Works; Using the QLAC

Posted in Lifetime Income
I have spent much of my career studying and practicing in the law of annuities as it applies to retirement plans-starting even prior to my long stint with an insurance holding company, when the Master Trust of the Fortune 100 company for which I was in-house ERISA counsel formulated its own synthetic, pooled GIC for… Continue Reading

Treasury and IRS Successfully Lay the Base For Lifetime Income: The “2012-3 Annuity” and The QLAC

Posted in Lifetime Income
Treasury nailed it (or, as our eldest son is fond of saying, they just "friggin’" nailed it). With just a relatively short regulation and a Revenue Ruling, Treasury simply and in a very straightforward way laid out the definitive structure for defined contribution plans (like 401(k) plans) to start providing lifetime income in a market… Continue Reading

Dodd-Frank and the Annuity Fiduciary Standard

Posted in Lifetime Income
Section 939A of Dodd Frank has a very interesting mandate to federal agencies. It requires federal agencies to review their regulations to determine those which require the use of a credit-agency rating in assessing the credit-worthiness of a security and: “Each such agency shall modify any such regulations identified by the review conducted under subsection… Continue Reading
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