On July 22, 2013, the United States Department of Labor- Employee Benefits Security Administration (“DOL”) announced a one-time “re-set” of the timing for the disclosure of the comparative chart of plan investment options. As part of the final regulations on fee disclosures, plan administrators of an individual account plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan that allow participants to direct investment of their account balance, are required to provide a comparative chart of plan investment options at least annually to participants. For example, if a plan administrator provided the initial disclosure on August 25, 2012, the second comparative chart would be due on August 25, 2013.
Plan administrators and service providers complained to the DOL about the timing of the disclosure because it would require a separate mailing from other annual disclosures and thus, would add to administrative costs. They suggested that a disclosure at the end of the year when participants receive their individual benefit statements or during enrollment periods may be more likely to get participants’ attention. As a result, DOL issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2013-02 (the “Bulletin”) which provides plan administrators 18 months from the first disclosure to provide the second comparative chart to participants. Thus, for those plan administrators with a disclosure deadline of August 25, 2013, they would have until February 25, 2014 to provide the second comparative chart.
For a plan administrator who has or intends to provide the second comparative chart by August 25, 2013, under the terms of the regulations, the third comparative chart would be due on August 25, 2014. The DOL under the Bulletin will allow these plan administrators to provide this third comparative chart no later than 18 months after the second comparative chart. Thus, instead of the deadline of August 25, 2014, the third comparative chart would be due by February 25, 2015. Essentially, these plan administrators will have a similar opportunity to participate in a one-time re-set of their disclosure deadline.
It is important to understand that the date a plan administrator chooses as the re-set date will be the new deadline for disclosure going forward. DOL did indicate in the Bulletin that it is considering whether to allow a 30-day or 45-day window for providing the annual comparative chart rather than using the fixed 12 month period ending on a specific day.
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