Thursday, August 31 2017
We wish the best to the affected people in the path of Hurricane Harvey. There have been lots of questions regarding the availability of accessing retirement account balances because of the hardship. So far, we have heard from the DOL and the PBGC, but we are still waiting for the IRS, other than knowing any tax return deadlines for the affected area will be extended.
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]
"The Department is working with the IRS to provide relief regarding certain verification procedures that may be required under retirement plans with respect to plan loans to participants and beneficiaries, hardship distributions and other pension benefit distributions....
The Department recognizes that some employers and service providers acting on employers' behalf, such as payroll processing services, located in identified covered disaster areas will not be able to forward participant payments and withholdings to employee pension benefit plans within the prescribed timeframe. In such instances, the Department will not -- solely on the basis of a failure attributable to Hurricane Harvey -- seek to enforce the provisions of Title I with respect to a temporary delay in the forwarding of such payments or contributions to an employee pension benefit plan to the extent that affected employers, and service providers, act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of employees to comply as soon as practical under the circumstances....
With respect to blackout periods related to Hurricane Harvey, the Department will not allege a violation of the blackout notice requirements solely on the basis that a fiduciary did not make the required written determination....
The Department recognizes that plan participants and beneficiaries may encounter an array of problems due to the hurricane, such as difficulties meeting certain deadlines for filing benefit claims and COBRA elections. The guiding principle for plans must be to act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of the workers and their families who rely on their health plans for their physical and economic well-being. Plan fiduciaries should make reasonable accommodations to prevent the loss of benefits in such cases and should take steps to minimize the possibility of individuals losing benefits because of a failure to comply with pre-established timeframes."
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC]
"This Disaster Relief Announcement provides relief relating to PBGC deadlines ... [to] any person responsible for meeting a PBGC deadline ... that is located in the disaster area for which the [IRS] has provided relief in TX-2017-09 ... or [who] cannot reasonably obtain information or other assistance needed to meet the deadline from a service provider, bank, or other person whose operations are directly affected by the severe storms and flooding from Hurricane Harvey that began on August 23, 2017, in Texas.... The relief generally extends from August 23, 2017 through January 31, 2018. The disaster area consists of Aransas, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Jackson, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Wharton Counties."