WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) urged the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to focus on consolidation and streamlining notices and disclosures required under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and to maximize adoption of electronic delivery as a default mechanism for document sharing where allowable.
IRI filed comments with the DOL today in response to a request for information (RFI) on issues under its jurisdiction related to implementing the Secure 2.0 Act, a comprehensive retirement security law enacted last year. IRI was a leading proponent of the law.
IRI emphasized that notices and disclosures required under ERISA can and should be presented clearly and concisely to ensure consumers read and understand. The association also said that disclosures that are duplicative, inconsistent, or spread out across multiple documents make it much harder for average consumers to comprehend the information.
A second emphasis was strongly encouraging DOL to establish electronic delivery of documents and disclosures as a default mechanism to the greatest extent allowed by law. The Secure 2.0 Act included a provision that directs DOL to revise its e-delivery rules to require at least one paper statement to be delivered every year unless certain conditions are met. IRI is urging DOL to only make necessary changes in response to that directive to minimize the adverse impact and consumer confusion.
“To be clear, we continue to believe that individual consumers should have the option to request paper delivery, but in the modern world, paper should be the exception, not the rule,” said Jason Berkowitz, Chief Legal and Regulatory Affairs Officer. “The Department should seek to leverage the capabilities of modern technology to enhance and improve the consumer experience.
In the context of ERISA plans, Berkowitz and Rebecca Plowman, Director of Compliance and Implementation at IRI, explained in written comments to DOL that this would include taking steps to facilitate electronic delivery for all required notices and disclosures. They said electronic delivery is safer and more effective than traditional paper delivery, with features like audit trails and multi-factor authentication providing greater consumer protections than paper.
Using e-delivery to communicate with consumers also creates opportunities for the industry to provide dynamic, real-time information rather than static data and make it easier for consumers to navigate through that information to find the details that are most important to them through layered disclosure.
“The enhanced consumer protections and flexibility made possible by e-delivery simply cannot be matched in the non-digital world,” Berkowitz said.
DOL issued an RFI because it believes it will be helpful to initiate progress on the specific SECURE 2.0 items by expeditiously obtaining feedback from a diverse set of stakeholders from the earliest stages of the process and building an initial public record. This feedback will inform more specific, detailed rulemaking or other guidance on such provisions in the future, including the completion of multiple reports to Congress, as required by SECURE 2.0.
IRI provided input to DOL on several other issues, including pooled employer plans, defined contribution plan fee disclosure improvements, consolidation of defined contribution plan notices, requirements to provide paper statements in certain circumstances, and others.
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Contact: Dan Zielinski
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