Connections for Success

Employee Benefit Plans


Auto-Escalation Should be Offered in Conjunction with Auto-Enrollment
Stephanie M. Zaleski

Auto-enrolling 401(k) plan participants without also incorporating an auto-escalation feature might be a counterproductive exercise. Survey data suggests that average 401(k) plan deferral rates have been trending downward even though more employers are adopting auto-enrollment. The apparent culprit: low auto-deferral rates. This brief article highlights how to use both auto-enrollment and auto-escalation clauses to help benefit employees.


Let’s Play Ball! It’s Time to Step Up to the Plate to Review Fiduciary Status and Fiduciary Duties
James G. Quaid

Are you a fiduciary for your company or organization’s retirement plan? If yes, you may find it challenging to “cover all the bases” in understanding your fiduciary duties. Some common duties that get overlooked include failing to identify the plan’s fiduciaries and insufficiently training fiduciaries on their responsibilities.


IRS Eases Pain for Correcting Certain Plan Administration Errors
James Pellino

We all know that nobody is perfect. The good news is, so does the IRS. The IRS acknowledges that retirement plan administrators are not infallible, and provides correction for certain administrative errors. While corrective actions can still be arduous and time consuming, the IRS has relaxed some of its rules. This article provides an in-depth look at the recent updates as to how the IRS will handle certain plan administration errors.


Is a Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plan Right for Your Company?
Michael J. Kovacs

Nonqualified deferred compensation plans enable key employees to defer a higher proportion of their current income to later years when they retire. While nonqualified plans often are perceived as only for top executives, they may also be right for upper-level staff. This article discusses what plan sponsors need to know about nonqualified deferred compensation plans.


How to Ask the Right Questions Regarding Your Service Provider’s Data Security System
Tanya L. Walter

Maintaining data security is a significant part of running any business. Breaches are inevitable — although not at every organization. This article reviews questions to ask when reviewing data security with service providers.


ESOPs Facing Tougher Scrutiny
Kenneth J. Kobiernicki

Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) fiduciaries are facing closer scrutiny by the Department of Labor (DOL), while federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, are weighing in on ESOP cases. This article reminds ESOP sponsors to take a fresh look at how their ESOPs are structured and overseen by fiduciaries.


Be Careful What You Toss: Plan Record Retention Requirements
Stephanie M. Zaleski

As far as the IRS is concerned, you cannot be overly cautious with saving too many retirement plan documents. Plan sponsors, on the other hand, might reasonably feel the need to free up file storage space every now and again by purging documents that are no longer needed. This article examines where to draw the line and also looks at IRS rules for documentation of hardship withdrawals and participant loans.


Give Employees More Bang for Their Buck: How to More Effectively Use Default Deferral Rates and Auto-Escalation Clauses
James G. Quaid

According to a Plan Sponsor Council of America survey, only 46% of defined contribution plans automatically enroll participants. The most common default deferral rate for those that do is 3%. Are plan sponsors telling employees that they can afford to retire by saving just 3% of their salary each year? Some participants may think so. This article discusses how to use default deferral rates and auto-escalation clauses to boost participants’ retirement savings.


Understanding Welfare Plan Form 5500 Filing Requirements
Larry A. Ruff

Welfare plans commonly provide employee benefits, such as medical, dental, life insurance and disability benefits. All welfare plans covered by ERISA are subject to the annual Form 5500 reporting and filing requirements. However, not all ERISA welfare plans must file Form 5500 if they meet one of the exceptions under the law. As a plan sponsor, this article will help you determine whether you need to file Form 5500.


Retirement Plan Loans: The Pros and Cons
James Pellino

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, more than one-fifth (or 21%) of all 401(k) plan participants eligible for loans have loans outstanding at any given time. Looking out for the best interests of plan participants might involve discouraging them from borrowing against their savings, at least in the absence of a personal financial crisis. This blog summarizes plan loan requirements that all plan fiduciaries should know.

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