Note: The DOL announced on September 20, 2016, that the deadline for submitting comments has been extended to December 5, 2016. 

Last week I had the opportunity, along with a few Foundation members, to meet with Ian Dingwall, Chief Accountant for the Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

One major area of discussion was Form 5500—proposed revisions to the form and proposed changes to the DOL annual reporting rules. Comments on the changes are due December 5, and the DOL would very much like you to submit your thoughts. You can comment via formal, detailed letter. But you can also comment more informally—just a few sentences. How you comment doesn’t matter—Just let them know what you think.

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The proposed Form 5500 changes are intended to:

  • Gather more complete financial information on investments and asset allocation, especially hard-to-value assets, alternative investments and collective investment vehicles
  • Garner better information on plan terminations and mergers
  • Show ERISA and Internal Revenue Code compliance by gathering more information on plan operations, financial management and service provider relationships
  • Update reporting requirements on service provider fees and expenses
  • Improve the accessibility and usability of data
  • Collect more data on group health plans.
    • If this change is adopted, all health plans including those previously exempt (i.e., fully insured and small unfunded) will need to file.
    • New Schedule J (Group Health Plan Information) will require reporting about plan operations and ERISA and ACA compliance, including types of benefits covered, funding arrangements, rebates and reimbursements, employer and worker contributions, claims payment data, and service providers used.

These changes, if implemented, will appear on the 2019 forms, for filing in 2020. Want to learn more? Check out the DOL webcast and their fact sheet.

The accountants who met with the DOL last week had some specific areas of concern, namely:

  • Schedule H data on alternative investments like limited partnerships
  • Schedule H schedule of assets
  • Schedule C indirect compensation threshold being lowered to $1,000 from $5,000.

Their concerns involve challenges both in identifying and collecting the data and in the sheer volume that will need to be reported should these particular changes be adopted.

What are YOUR areas of concern? Now is your chance to let the agencies know. You have several ways to send in your comments.

  • Enter the federal eRulemaking Portal (regulations.gov):
    • To submit comments on the proposed form changes, click here.
    • To submit comments on the annual reporting rules, click here.
    • Easy-to-follow instructions walk you through the process.
  • E-mail: e-ORI@dol.gov. Include RIN 1210–AB63 in the subject line of the message.
  • Mail: Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Attn: RIN 1210–AB63; Annual Reporting and Disclosure, Room N–5655; U.S. Department of Labor; 200 Constitution Avenue NW; Washington, DC 20210.
  • Hand Delivery/Courier: Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Attn: RIN 1210–AB63; Annual Reporting and Disclosure, Room N–5655; U.S. Department of Labor; 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20210.

All comments received must include the agency name and Regulatory Identifier Number (RIN) for this rulemaking (RIN 1210–AB63).

The agencies encourage you to comment electronically, if possible. If you do so, please don’t also submit comments in paper format.

Want to read what others have already submitted? All comments are public record and are posted on the DOL website.

The DOL wants to hear from you. Mr. Dingwall assured us all comments will be carefully considered. This is your chance to let the agencies know how these proposed changes may impact your plans and if you think they’ll work moving forward.

Stay tuned to Today’s Headlines and Regulatory Updates for news on these and other benefit developments.


Julie Stich, CEBS
Associate Vice President, Content at the International Foundation

 

Julie Stich, CEBS

Associate Vice President, Content at the International Foundation Favorite Foundation service/product: A tie between our research reports and the personalized research service! Benefits related topics she’ll happily discuss: Issues involving women in retirement, ACA, innovative benefits, trends, communicating the value of benefits, work/life benefits and “fuzzy” benefits.

Favorite Foundation conference/event moment: Listening to astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield’s keynote at the 2014 Canadian Annual Conference. Also, really likes being in a booth at whichever conference, and chatting with members.

Personal Insight: A history buff, Julie enjoys traveling to major U.S. landmarks. She is also a life-long Trekker, and will correct you if you mistakenly call her a “Trekkie.”  

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