In Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2013-02 (the “FAB”), the Employee Benefits Security Administration (the “EBSA”) extends the time for furnishing the comparative charts required by disclosure regulations.
By way of background, on October, 20, 2010, the EBSA issued a final regulation on disclosure requirements for participant-directed individual account plans (29 CFR § 2550.404a-5). This regulation requires that plan administrators disclose detailed investment-related information to plan participants and beneficiaries about the plans’ designated investment alternatives. Covered plans operating on a calendar-year basis had to furnish a comparative chart of the investment alternatives for the first time by no later than August 30, 2012, and subsequently at least annually thereafter. The regulation defines “at least annually thereafter” to mean at least once in any 12-month period, without regard to whether the plan operates on a calendar or fiscal year basis. For example, a plan administrator that furnished the first required chart on August 25, 2012, must furnish the next comparative chart no later than August 25, 2013.
To provide plan administrators with some flexibility, the FAB provides that the EBSA, as an enforcement matter, will treat a plan administrator as satisfying the “at least annually thereafter” requirement, if the plan administrator meets the following deadlines, and otherwise reasonably determines that doing so will benefit participants and beneficiaries:
–a plan administrator may furnish the 2013 comparative chart (i.e., the second comparative chart to be provided) no later than 18 months after the first comparative chart was furnished; and
–a plan administrator may furnish the 2014 comparative chart (i.e., the third comparative chart to be provided) no later than 18 months after the second comparative chart was furnished, if the second chart was furnished by the time required by the regulation (that is, within 12 months after the first chart was provided).