Bill Would Provide New Safe Harbor for Annuity Provider Selection

U.S. Representatives introduced the Increasing Access to a Secure Retirement Act.

U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg, R-Michigan, and Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, introduced H.R. 4604, the Increasing Access to a Secure Retirement Act.

The bipartisan bill clarifies and strengthens existing rules to make it easier for retirement plan sponsors to provide guaranteed lifetime income products as part of their employee benefits. It intends to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and lays out specific criteria for selecting an annuity benefit provider.

“To encourage and make saving easier, we should create more opportunities for employers to offer reliable investment options to the men and women they employ. Our bipartisan bill removes the regulatory uncertainty that hinder most employers from offering guaranteed lifetime income products, like annuities, to their workers. By establishing a clear set of rules, we can help more Americans retire with the certainty that they will have income to last throughout their retirement,” said Walberg in a statement.

“This bipartisan bill will allow a greater number of employees the option of annuities as a part of their benefits packages. By clarifying rules surrounding annuity plans, we’re broadening savings options available to employees across the country. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Education and Workforce Committee to expand access, participation, and the variety of tools in saving for retirement,” Blunt Rochester added.

According to a Plan Sponsor Council of America survey, the top concern 401(k) plan sponsors expressed about adding a retirement income guaranteed product to their plan was fiduciary exposure (38.3%). Even the Treasury Department has suggested more than the DOL guidance is needed to encourage in-plan guaranteed income use.

The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) said it “enthusiastically” supports the bill. “The bill provides a clear path for employers to meet their fiduciary obligations and will allow more retirement savers the opportunity to convert their retirement savings into guaranteed lifetime income,” it said in a statement.