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Expanded retirement savings opportunities, better access to annuities among IRI policy priorities for 2018

Insurance Forums Staff

The Insured Retirement Institute’s 2018 Retirement Security Blueprint is focused on helping Americans achieve their retirement goals through common sense, bipartisan policies.

The Blueprint, released by IRI during a conference call on Wednesday, will guide the annuity advocacy organization’s dialogue with Congress and the Trump Administration about providing “sustainable strategies to address the challenges Americans are facing as they seek to save for retirement and achieve a secure and dignified retirement,” according to a statement.

“The Blueprint was constructed on the pillars of expanding opportunities to save, increasing access to lifetime income in retirement, helping savers make decisions about their finances for their retirement and protecting older investors from financial exploitation,” said IRI Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lee Covington.

“In 2018, we have identified initiatives to pursue which will maintain and enhance the current tax treatment of retirement savings; expand opportunities and enhance features to help Americans save for retirement; increase use of lifetime income products in workplace retirement plans; preserve and improve access to professional financial guidance, education and information; and provide more resources to protect older investors from financial exploitation. We look forward to presenting and discussing these proposals with Members of Congress, the Administration, and state regulators,” Covington said.

Highlights from IRI’s 2018 Retirement Security Blueprint

  • Maintain and Enhance the Current Tax Treatment for Retirement Savings

Congress recognized the vital role tax deferred retirement savings plays in spurring America’s economic growth and prosperity in the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” enacted in 2017. Congress should:

1) maintain and promote the use of tax deferral for retirement savings

2) protect and preserve the distinct types of retirement plans, and

3) create tax incentives to encourage greater usage of guaranteed lifetime income products

  • Expand Opportunities for Retirement Savings

Congress should enact legislation which:

1) generally requires all but the smallest employers to automatically enroll their employees in a 401(k) plan maintained by the employer and eliminate the barriers which discourage employers from offering these plans

2) removes the regulatory and legal obstacles to facilitate small businesses use of multiple employer plans (Open MEPs)

3) increases auto-enrollment and auto-escalation default rates

4) improves and enhances access to the start-up retirement credit for small business employer-sponsored retirement plans

  • Increase Access to Lifetime Income Products

Congress or the Department of Labor should clarify employer fiduciary responsibility in the annuity selection safe-harbor. Congress should enact legislation which:

1) enables annuity portability

2) reduces the age requirement for in-service rollovers to purchase lifetime income products

3) updates required minimum distribution (RMD) rules to reflect longer lifespans

4) authorizes the Department of Treasury to enhance and reform the rules governing the use of QLAC

5) directs the Department of Labor or the another appropriate federal department to revise Qualified Default Investment Alternatives (QDIAs) rules to allow broader use of lifetime income products as default investment option

  • Help Savers Make Decisions about their Finances

IRI is calling for federal and state legislators and regulators to work constructively and collaboratively to develop a clear, consistent and workable best interest standard to avoid the creation of potentially duplicative, conflicting, or incompatible rules. Congress should enact legislation which:

1) requires lifetime income estimates on workers’ benefit statements

2) permits electronic disclosure for retirement plans. The Securities and Exchange Commission should adopt a variable annuity summary prospectus and annual update. The President should implement the national insurance licensing clearinghouse.

  • Provide More Resources to Protect Older Americans from Financial Exploitation

Congress should enact legislation to:

1) enable financial advisors to report suspected financial abuse protect their clients from financial abuse

2) restore and increase the amounts appropriated to support currently underfunded federal programs supporting state Adult Protective Service agencies.

For a detailed digital PDF copy of the Blueprint, click here.



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