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ERISA Advisory Council Sets Its Sights on ERISA Disclosure Requirement Simplification

The ERISA Advisory Council was established to advise the Secretary of Labor in carrying out her responsibilities under ERISA. It consists of fifteen (15) members appointed by the Secretary including:

  • 3 representatives of employee organizations;
  • 3 representatives of employers;
  • 3 representatives from the general public; and
  • 1 representative each from the fields of: insurance; corporate trust; actuarial counseling, investment counseling, investment management and accounting.

Consistent with and in response to the Executive Order issued by the President on January 30, 2017 regarding reducing regulation and controlling regulatory costs, the Council will seek responses to three proposals with respect to health and welfare plans:

  1. Annual Notices
    Consolidation of each of the various annual notices into a single annual notice issued within a standard format.
  2. Summary Annual Report
    Elimination of the SAR requirement for health benefit plans not already exempt.
  3. Summary Plan Description
    Modification of the SPD requirements to allow a short resource reference tool updated annually.

The analysis will consider testimony gathered from communication experts, plan sponsors, and participant representatives as to the proposed changes and the impact such changes would have regarding the cost burden on plan sponsors and whether the mandated notices provide valuable information to participants and beneficiaries.

The issue chairs then present their findings and recommendations to the council at the final meeting of the year. The council discusses the report and accepts it by vote as-is or with modifications. The council then presents the findings and recommendations to the Secretary or the Secretary’s designated representative at the final meeting. The final act of the council term is when the council Chair, in a letter to the Secretary of Labor, transmits the reports.

While the council reviews these issues, employers should continue to adhere to existing ERISA reporting and disclosure requirements until regulations are issued revising employer ERISA requirements.