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DOL Corner

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (DOL/EBSA) announced new guidance as featured below. You can subscribe to DOL/EBSA’s home page for updates

ERISA at 40

As we recognize the 40th anniversary of ERISA’s passage this year, DOL/EBSA invites you to visit our dedicated Web page. On October 21, DOL/EBSA hosted a symposium to commemorate the 40th anniversary. You can view the discussions online. The first panel discussed “From Statute to Action” and the second panel examined “Leadership and Legacy.”

Fiduciary guidance on lifetime income

On October 23, DOL/EBSA issued an information letter to the Department of the Treasury responding to a request for views on whether a series of target date funds (Funds) could serve as "qualified default investment alternatives" within the meaning of 29 CFR Section 2550.404c-5 (the QDIA regulation), in light of the Funds' investments in unallocated deferred annuity contracts, described in IRS Notice 2014-66. The letter also addressed whether, and to what extent, the Department's "annuity selection safe harbor," 29 CFR Section 2550.404a-4, is available in connection with the selection of the unallocated deferred annuity contracts as investments of the Funds. The letter was issued in coordination with the issuance of Notice 2014-66.

E-filing for “top hat” plan statements and apprenticeship and training plan notices

On September 30, DOL/EBSA published a proposed regulation that would require electronic filing of “top hat” plan statements and apprenticeship and training plan notices.

Under current law, top hat plans and apprenticeship and training plans file paper statements and notices with DOL/EBSA. The proposed regulation would revise current filing procedures to require electronic submission but would not change current content requirements.

The new electronic filing system is available and filers are encouraged to use it pending the adoption of the final regulation. The new system for top hat plans and the new system for apprenticeship and training plan notices are available on DOL/EBSA’s website. DOL/EBSA will treat electronic filers as satisfying the current requirement to file paper.

Comments on the proposed regulation and the design of the new filing system are due by December 29, 2014.

Brokerage windows

On August 21, DOL/EBSA published a Request for Information on the use of brokerage windows, self-directed brokerage accounts and similar features in 401(k)-type plans.

Some 401(k)-type plans offer participants access to brokerage windows in addition to, or in place of, specific investment options chosen by the employer or another plan fiduciary. These “window” arrangements can enable or require individual participants to choose for themselves from a broad range of investments. DOL/EBSA received a number of questions about brokerage windows following the 2012 publication of a final regulation on participant-level fee disclosure.

The RFI asks questions concerning brokerage windows including:

  • the scope of investment options typically available through a window,
  • demographic and other information about participants who commonly use brokerage windows,
  • the process of selecting a brokerage window and provider for a plan,
  • the costs of brokerage windows, and
  • what kind of information about brokerage windows and underlying investment options typically is available and disclosed to participants.

Comments are due by November 19, 2014. Comments can be submitted electronically by email to or through the eRulemaking portal. Written comments may also be sent to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, N-5655, 200 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20210, Attn: Brokerage Window RFI.

Missing participants

On August 14, DOL/EBSA issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2014-01. This Bulletin updates DOL/EBSA guidance on how fiduciaries of terminated defined contribution plans can fulfill their obligations under ERISA to locate missing participants and properly distribute the participants’ account balances.

Outreach and education

For notice of upcoming events as they are scheduled, subscribe to DOL/EBSA’s website home page. DOL/EBSA conducts seminars for small businesses on retirement plans and health benefits plans.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 13-Nov-2014