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The New DOL e-Disclosure Regs

On October 22, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued the long-anticipated proposed regulations addressing electronic disclosure of ERISA-required documents such as Summary Plan Descriptions, benefit statements, fee disclosures and blackout notices. For retirement plan sponsors, the paperwork burden to deliver these documents to all plan participants is significant, and, prior to the e-disclosure guidance issued by the DOL, was, for the most part, impractical.

Thankfully, the new regulations allow for e-delivery, alleviating the paper burden. Here are some observations on the proposed regulations:

  • A one-time disclosure to all plan participants/beneficiaries would indicate that all future disclosures are available online, but participants could elect to receive paper copies if they prefer. After that, all disclosures would be electronic
  • E-disclosures need not be limited to email; cellular text may be used
  • Participants are not required to provide personal email addresses or phone numbers (although they certainly can), if the employer has assigned an e-mail and/or phone number, such as a work email
  • Unlike under prior DOL guidance, there is no longer a requirement that participants have a computer at work, or otherwise affirmatively consent to e-disclosure, in order to receive disclosures electronically

Other than some wrinkles that plan sponsors would need to work out with their recordkeepers, such as ensuring that email addresses and phone numbers for terminated employees are kept up-to-date, the proposed regulations appear to be welcome news for retirement plan sponsors and participants. Of course, the regulations have not been finalized - so stay tuned!

What do you think of the proposed e-disclosure regulations? Let me know on LinkedIn, Twitter or at info@cammackretirement.com!

Note: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice. Opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Cammack Retirement Group.

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