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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Enhanced Retirement Security

U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Labor today announced two executive actions designed to help enhance security for millions of Americans saving for retirement. The measures will (1) expand transparency in the 401(k) plan marketplace and (2) broaden the availability of retirement plan options so Americans can maximize their ability to save responsibly and securely.

The Treasury Department’s proposal will also reduce regulatory burdens and make it easier for retirees to choose to receive their benefits as a stream of income in regular payments for as long as they live. These flexible “lifetime income” options can provide greater certainty in retirement and minimize the risk of retirees outliving or underutilizing their retirement savings.

“When American workers take the responsible step of saving for retirement, we should do all we can to provide them with sensible, accessible choices for managing their hard-earned savings. Having the ability to choose from expanded options will help retirees and their families achieve both greater value and security,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration today issued a final rule that will provide employers sponsoring pension and 401(k) plans with information about the administrative and investment costs associated with providing such plans to their workers. The department also announced a three-month extension in the effective date of this rule, meaning service providers must be in compliance by July 1, 2012, for new and existing contracts or arrangements between ERISA-covered plans and service providers.

“As President Obama has said, we’re at a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it. What’s at stake is the American value that hard work pays off. The common-sense rule that we are finalizing today will shed light on the true costs of 401(k) accounts and ultimately reward those working hard and saving for retirement,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “This rule, and its companion participant-level fee disclosure rule, will greatly increase the level of transparency in retirement plans. When businesses that sponsor retirement plans, and the workers who participate in those plans, get better information on associated fees and expenses, they’ll be able to shop around and make informed decisions that will lead to cost savings and a larger nest egg at retirement.”

Together, the actions by both the Treasury and Labor Departments will expand available options and provide greater transparency to help working families successfully plan for retirement and manage their retirement savings. The Council of Economic Advisers has prepared a detailed report describing the significance of today’s actions, which can be accessed here.

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