By Carroll Consultants, Ltd.
To help participants make informed investment decisions, the IRS and DOL requires that plan participants receive sufficient information regarding their retirement plan and available investment alternatives. Beginning last year, Plan Sponsors were required to provide this information in the form of the annual Participant Fee Disclosure.
What Information is included in the Participant Fee Disclosure?
The Participant Fee Disclosure statement provides both plan related and investment related information. Plan related information describes the administrative procedures of the plan, including when and how participants can make changes to their accounts and any fees involved. Investment related information includes performance data, benchmark information and fee and expense information.
When Must the Participant Fee Disclosure be Distributed?
The Participant Fee Disclosure must be provided to plan participants at least once in a 12 month period. The initial disclosures for most plans were due by August 30, 2012. Review when your initial disclosure was sent to plan participants in 2012 and prepare to distribute the disclosure before that date this year. The disclosure must also be provided to new participants as part of their enrollment material when they enter the plan.
Which Plans are Required to Provide the Participant Fee Disclosure?
All plans subject to ERISA that allow for participant-directed investments must distribute the Participant Fee Disclosure each year. The disclosure must be distributed to all Active Participant (whether or not they actually contribute to the plan) and all Participants who terminated employment after January 1, 2009 who still have a balance in the plan. Church plans and Non-ERISA are not required to provide the disclosure. However, you may also want to provide the Participant Fee Disclosure as a best practice to keep your participant’s informed regarding plan and investment information.
How Can the Participant Fee Disclosure be Distributed?
There are two ways that the disclosure can be delivered to the participants – direct mail to their residence or electronic delivery. Under the DOL safe harbor rules, disclosures may be delivered electronically, with notice of its electronic availability, provided the participant has work-related electronic access and is able to effectively access the documents at any location where he or she is reasonably expected to perform their job duties and access to the employer’s electronic information system is an integral part of those job duties, or a plan participant, beneficiary or other person entitled to the disclosure has affirmatively consented to receive electronic disclosures.
How Do I Get Started?
Collect plan and investment data from each provider so you can prepare a consolidated notice. Investment data should be as of the most recent quarter end. If your plan has multiple investment platforms, the disclosure can be merged into a single document or distributed as separate documents provided they are distributed together at the same time. If your investments are with TIAA-CREF, you can create the disclosure using the Disclosure Assist Tool on the Plan Sponsor website. Carroll Consultants, LTD can provide assistance in the creation and distribution of the disclosure.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about this topic, please contact Pat Gallagher at 610-225-1217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.