DOL Provides Guidance Regarding Monitoring Annuity Providers
The DOL issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2015-02, which provides clarity regarding selection and monitoring of annuity providers for fiduciaries of defined contribution retirement plans. There is a safe harbor regulation that the DOL previously promulgated which specifies the steps a fiduciary should take in selecting an annuity provider and contract and also specifies that fiduciaries should periodically review annuity providers and contracts. There was some confusion amongst fiduciaries about the frequency of the periodic evaluations and, in particular, whether a fiduciary is required to review the provider each time a participant or beneficiary elects an annuity. The DOL has clarified in this field assistance bulletin that the frequency of review depends on facts and circumstances and is not required to occur every time a participant or beneficiary elects an annuity. The bulletin also clarifies that a fiduciary’s obligation to monitor an annuity provider ends when the plan ceases to offer annuities from that provider as a distribution option.