DOL and Treasury Request Information on Lifetime Income Options for Retirement Plan Participants

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On February 2, 2010, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Treasury Department jointly published a request for information (RFI) regarding lifetime income options in retirement plans and individual retirement accounts. The purpose of the RFI, which was issued pursuant to the regulatory agendas of both departments, is to solicit views, suggestions and comments from the public – including plan sponsors, service providers and financial intermediaries – regarding whether, and, if so, how, DOL and Treasury “could or should enhance retirement security of qualified plan participants and IRA owners by facilitating access to, and use of, lifetime income or other arrangements designed to provide a lifetime stream of income after retirement.”

The Administration continues to express a strong interest in this topic. On January 25, the Administration’s Middle Class Task Force issued a factsheet, as a preview of its full report (expected this month), that includes as one of four elements for strengthening 401(k) plans a system for "promoting the availability of annuities and other forms of guaranteed lifetime income.” The Administration’s “Green Book” FY2011 budget proposal, issued on February 1, similarly notes that “[w]orkplace retirement savings arrangements … could be used as a platform to provide and promote retirement distributions over the worker’s lifetime.”

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