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Pension Reform Measures Included in Minimum Wage Bill
Washington, DC, October 19, 1999 - Representative Lazio (R-NY) has introduced H.R. 3081, "The Wage and Employment Growth Act of 1999," which includes all of the pension reform measures previously included in Title XII of H.R. 2488, the tax bill vetoed by President Clinton in September. H.R. 3081 does not include the IRA expansion or education-related provisions that were in the tax bill.
The bill does include a number of additional provisions that originally appeared in either the House or Senate versions of the tax bill or in other bills, but did not appear in the final version of the tax bill. These include the following:
- Periodic Pension Benefits Statements. The bill would require the plan administrator of a defined contribution plan to furnish a benefit statement to each participant at least once annually and to a beneficiary upon written request. Defined benefit plan administrators would be required to furnish benefit statements annually upon request, as under current law, and additionally, at least once every 3 years to each participant who is currently employed by the employer. Alternatively, in the case of a defined benefit plan, the plan administrator may annually furnish written or electronic notice to each participant of the availability of such statements. In either case, the statement must indicate total benefits accrued, the amount vested, the earliest date on which benefits will become vested, and must be written in a manner designed to be understood by participants. The statement may be furnished in written, electronic, telephonic, or other appropriate form.
- Civil Penalties For Breach of Fiduciary Responsibility. The bill would modify ERISA Section 502(l) to provide the Department of Labor discretionary authority with respect to the imposition of civil penalty amounts.
- Technical Corrections to the Saver Act. The bill would amend Section 517 of ERISA to specify the manner in which delegates are to be appointed to the quadrennial National Summit on Retirement Savings (the "SAVER Summit").
- Model Spousal Consent Language and QDRO. The bill would amend ERISA Sections 205(c) and 206(d)(3) to direct the Secretary of Labor to develop model language for spousal consents required under the Act and for qualified domestic relations orders.
- Elimination of ERISA Double Jeopardy. The bill would amend ERISA Section 502(h) to bar the Labor and Treasury Departments from instituting litigation in cases where a private action had been brought and settled and the Department had been served a copy of the proposed settlement 90 days before the court approved the settlement.
- Notice and Consent Period Regarding Distributions. The bill would extend to 180 days the 90-day notice period under ERISA Sections 203(e) and 205 and direct the Secretary of the Treasury to modify its regulations to provide that the description of a participant’s right, if any, to defer receipt of a distribution also shall describe the consequences of failing to defer receipt.
- Annual Report Dissemination. The bill would require the summary annual report, which is presently required to be furnished under ERISA Section 104(b)(3), only be made available for examination and be furnished only upon request.
- Excess Benefit Plans. The bill would amend Section 3(36) of ERISA to expand the meaning of the term "excess benefit plan" to include a plan maintained solely for the purposed of providing employees benefits in excess of the Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a)(17) or 415 limits "or any other limitation on contribution or benefits" under the Code.
- Benefit Suspension Notice. The bill would direct the Secretary of Labor to modify the regulation under ERISA Section 203(a)(3)(b) to provide that the notification required to suspend benefit payments may be included in the summary plan description rather than provided in a separate notice.
In addition to a provision that would increase the minimum wage, the bill also includes provisions that, among other things, would provide estate tax relief and provide a 100 percent deduction for health care costs of self-employed individuals.