On March 29, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 2954, the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021 (“SSRA”), by a vote of 414-5. This alert contains Groom’s summary of the legislation as passed by the chamber.
The SSRA contains provisions from the version of the bill approved by the House Ways and Means Committee in May 2021 and from the Education and Labor Committee’s RISE Act (H.R. 5891) approved in November 2021.
The SSRA takes the bulk of its provisions from the Ways and Means version of the bill, including:
- requiring automatic enrollment in new plans;
- phasing in an increase in the required minimum distribution age;
- allowing a higher catch-up limit; and
- facilitating matching contributions with respect to student loan repayments.
From the RISE Act, the legislation includes:
- increasing retirement plan access for part-time workers;
- allowing employers to offer small financial incentives, such as low-dollar gift cards, to increase plan participation; and
- changes to pooled employer plans.
Provisions specific to governmental and tax-exempt plans in the merged bill include:
- allowing 403(b) MEPs/PEPs;
- eliminating the “first day of the month” rule for 457(b) plans; and
- conforming the 403(b) hardship withdrawal rules to those of 401(k) rules.
The version passed by the House did contain a few notable changes from the bills approved by the committees last year, including:
- an expanded and simplified Saver’s Credit;
- dropping the securities law amendment that would allow 403(b)s to invest in collective investment trusts; and
- a streamlined federal Retirement Savings Lost and Found online database.
The SSRA now heads to the Senate, where the Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (“HELP”) Committees are working on their own legislation. Rather than accept the SSRA as sent over by the House, Finance and HELP Committee members will likely look to pull popular provisions from an assortment of retirement bills that have been introduced in the Senate, including measures by Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), HELP Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA), and Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH). The Finance Committee currently plans to hold a markup of its bill later this spring.
It is unclear whether the Senate will pass a retirement bill this year. As demonstrated by the SSRA’s vote, however, there is clearly bipartisan support for many of the measures currently under consideration. Further, some key retirement champions have announced that they will retire at the end of the year, which may be an impetus for passage. As was the case in past efforts to enact retirement legislation, the best chance for enactment likely will be through hitching a ride on a must-pass, year-end package.