In Congress, Leadership Shifts Could Lead to Retirement Plan Changes

Capitol dome

Republicans control both houses of Congress, and there are many leadership shifts underway at the committee level as well. These shifts open the door for changes to retirement plans coming from the federal level.

One idea sure to be brought up is Senator Orrin Hatch’s SAFE Retirement Act. From Pensions and Investments:

At the committee level, the change of leadership raises the prospects for serious consideration of new retirement ideas, like incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch’s SAFE Retirement Act proposal, which would expand the use of multiple employer plans, allow public defined benefit pension funds to purchase private annuities, and create a “starter 401(k) plan” for small, private-sector employers.

Lawmakers could also take a closer look at defined-contribution plans and cash balance plans. From P&I:

As the tax reform debate heats up, “Republicans are going to want to cut expenses and raise revenue,” said Michael Webb, vice president of Cammack Retirement Group, Wellesley, Mass., a consulting firm specializing in defined contribution plans. “How do you do that? By changing things like deductibility on retirement plan contributions.”

Along with those discussions, “there might be opportunities in 2015 for retirement plan proposals that would enhance coverage and benefits,” said Kent Mason, an attorney at law firm Davis & Harman LLP, Washington, who is outside counsel for the American Benefits Council, Washington. He and others note that multiple employer plans enjoy bipartisan support in Congress, which could convince regulators to make them easier to create.

Both Republicans and Democrats would like to see more automatic enrollment and escalation in defined contribution plans. “This is showing up in bipartisan bills because (current default rates) are not high enough” for retirement security,” said Mr. Mason. “This is an area where I could see common ground.”

Hybrid retirement ideas like cash balance plans will come up early, starting with a Jan. 9 hearing on IRS regulations finalized in September for plan years after 2015. “I do think there is pent up demand for some type of DB (proposal),” said Alan Glickstein, Dallas-based senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson & Co. Hybrid pension plans for the military will also come up early in the year, when recommendations from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission are due, sources said.

Read the full article here.

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