Employers would find it easier to add annuities to employer-sponsored
retirement plans under a bill pending in Congress that has bipartisan support.
The annuities provision is part of the Retirement Enhancement and
Savings Act of 2018, which makes several changes to retirement plan
regulations. The bill’s House of Representatives version is H.R. 5282,
sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly, and the Senate version is S. 2526, sponsored by
Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Currently, an employer is required to determine the financial stability
of any company that offers an annuity product that the employer wants to
include as an option in its retirement plan for employees. This means the
smallest employer would be forced to determine the financial stability of even
the largest insurance company, and every employer would have to make its own
determination, said Lee Covington, senior vice president and general counsel of
the Insured Retirement Institute.
The bill would remove this requirement. Insurance companies have to meet
state requirements to be allowed to operate, and the employer could rely on
these regulations to prove the stability of a company. The employer would still
have a fiduciary duty to determine that particular annuities, if offered, were
suitable for its employees.
The bill also would make the lifetime income benefits of an annuity
portable, so retirement plan participants would not lose benefits if the
employer made changes to the plan.
Most employers are in favor of the bill, said Covington, as are numerous
organizations and associations representing consumers, including AARP, the
American Retirement Association and the Insured Retirement Institute. The bill
was released during an earlier session of Congress by the Senate Finance Committee
by a unanimous, bipartisan vote.
“This is a commonsense reform that will break down the barrier to
including annuities as one option in an employer-sponsored retirement plan,”
Jack Dolan, vice president at the American Council of Life Insurers,
added, “We are hopeful that the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act will be
considered by the 115th Congress. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin
Brady has expressed an interest in moving retirement-related provisions this
year, which could include this retirement bill. He is considering hearings now
on retirement issues, and we are optimistic that there will be more retirement
hearings in the Senate as well.”
In addition to making it easier to add annuities to plans, the bill
makes numerous other changes in retirement plan regulations, such as allowing
small employers to band together to offer a joint retirement plan to their
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