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Tag: pension

An Idea Whose Time Has Come: A National “Lost and Found” for Retirement Accounts

An Idea Whose Time Has Come: A National “Lost and Found” for Retirement Accounts

As explained in my prior Post, each year millions of Americans lose thousands of dollars in retirement savings in the process of changing jobs. The problem largely results from employers shifting from defined benefit plans that pay an annuity for life to defined contribution plans, like 401(k) plans, that pay a lump sum upon separation from employment or at a later date when the participant elects to take his/her lump sum. If a separated participant chooses to leave the lump…

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Commit a Crime? Risk Having Your Retirement Account Garnished

Commit a Crime? Risk Having Your Retirement Account Garnished

If you are in a private-sector pension plan covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), you may have been told that your pension benefits cannot be “alienated.” That is, creditors cannot touch your employer-provided pension or retirement funds while those funds are in the plan. However, ERISA’s anti-alienation rule only goes so far, as one criminal recently learned. United States v. Frank, No. 1:17-cr-114 (E.D. Va. May 6, 2020). In 2017, Lawrence Frank pled guilty to one count…

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Did You Know? Crimes Committed By Your Spouse May Be Detrimental to Your Pension

Did You Know? Crimes Committed By Your Spouse May Be Detrimental to Your Pension

Our intuition suggests this cannot be the case. After all, YOU did not commit the crime. However, at least in Texas (and possibly some other states) our intuition would be wrong if the retirement savings were jointly possessed during the marriage. A recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision makes this point abundantly clear. United States v. Berry, No. 19-20050, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 6260 (Feb. 28, 2020) In the Berry case, Gwendolyn Berry was convicted of wire fraud, mail…

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It’s High Time to Do-Away With the “Arbitrary and Capricious” Standard of Review for Employee Benefit Claims

It’s High Time to Do-Away With the “Arbitrary and Capricious” Standard of Review for Employee Benefit Claims

The Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA) has long-required that employee benefit plans (e.g., pension and welfare plans) provide “a full and fair review” of any decision denying a participant’s claim for benefits. ERISA §503, 29 U.S.C. §1133. Accordingly, most employee benefit plans provide procedures for submitting a claim for benefits to the plan administrator and for requesting a review of any denial of the claim. Often, the merits of a participant’s claim will turn on the interpretation of disputed plan…

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Decreasing Fertility and Increasing Life Expectancy Threaten the Solvency of Our Nation’s Social Security Retirement Program

Decreasing Fertility and Increasing Life Expectancy Threaten the Solvency of Our Nation’s Social Security Retirement Program

On November 4, 2019, the Social Security Administration issued a report addressing the funded status of the Social Security retirement program. “Social Security: Demographic Trends and the Funding Shortfall” (Report). The Report’s findings and conclusions should be of great concern to anyone who is, or may be, dependent on Social Security benefits for a comfortable retirement. The Social Security program pays benefits to retired or disabled workers and their families and to family members of deceased workers. It was set…

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Pension Plans May Count Service Different Ways for Different Things

Pension Plans May Count Service Different Ways for Different Things

I frequently receive calls from pension plan participants who are confused about their plan’s rules for counting service for vesting, participation, and determining the amount of the pension. I explain that plans may legally count service differently for each of these things, and that most plans do. A recent case illustrates the point and participants’ confusion. Miller v. Ret. Program Plan, No. 18-6314 (Aug. 22, 2019). Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC (CNS) sponsored a retirement plan for its employees (the Plan)….

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The Secure Act- What Would It Mean To Retirement?

The Secure Act- What Would It Mean To Retirement?

The House of Representatives passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the “SECURE Act”). The SECURE Act is now in the hands of the Senate. If the Senate and President approve, the following are some of the key provisions that could impact individuals and businesses when it comes to retirement planning: · After the death of a participant in a retirement plan or owner of an IRA (or Roth IRA), distributions of the entire account…

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It’s Not Always True That You Must Start Taking Pension Distributions By April 1 of the Year Following the Year You Turn Age 70½

It’s Not Always True That You Must Start Taking Pension Distributions By April 1 of the Year Following the Year You Turn Age 70½

Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), participants in tax-qualified pension plans [most pension plans ARE tax qualified] MUST start taking “required minimum distributions” (RMDs) of their pension by April 1 of the year following the year they turn age 70½. This is referred to as the “required beginning date” (RBD), and it is very important because the penalty for failing to take an RMD by the deadline is an onerous 50% tax penalty. Ditto if you fail to take your…

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What Is the Better Strategy For Achieving Retirement Security? Working Longer? Or Saving More?

What Is the Better Strategy For Achieving Retirement Security? Working Longer? Or Saving More?

The National Bureau of Economic Research recently published a working paper that purports to answer this question. [See “The Power of Working Longer,” by Gila Bronshtein, Jason Scott, John B. Shoven, and Sita N. Slavov]. With exhausting technical analysis, the authors demonstrate that working longer is a much more powerful strategy for achieving retirement security than saving more. For example, the authors show that delaying retirement by just one year results in an 8% increase in the standard of living,…

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Does It Make Sense to Delay Collecting Social Security Retirement Benefits in Order to Receive a Higher Monthly Benefit?

Does It Make Sense to Delay Collecting Social Security Retirement Benefits in Order to Receive a Higher Monthly Benefit?

Callers sometimes ask me this question, and I tell them the answer depends on a number of factors unique to them. But, here are a few things to consider. First, if you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits (SS benefits), you may choose to start receiving them between age 62 and age 70. However, if you start your SS benefits before your full retirement age (FRA), they will be reduced; if you wait until age 70, they will be increased….

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