WASHINGTON – The Department of Labor announced its Employee Benefits Security Administration today issued a report to Congress on Interpretive Bulletin 95-1 that analyzes fiduciary standards when selecting an annuity provider for a defined benefit pension plan. Interpretive Bulletin 95-1, which outlines these Employee Retirement Income Security Act fiduciary requirements, was first issued in 1995. Nearly 30 years later, EBSA issued this report in response to a SECURE 2.0 Act directive to review the bulletin, consult with the ERISA Advisory Council and determine whether any amendments are necessary.The bulletin lists factors that a fiduciary must consider when evaluating an annuity provider’s ability to pay claims creditworthiness. As outlined in the report, EBSA found that the bulletin’s current factors are still relevant to a fiduciary’s prudent and loyal evaluation and that guidance in this area should remain principles-based.However, the agency notes in the report that the agency should further explore developments in both the life insurance industry and in pension risk transfer, also known as “derisking,” practices to determine whether some of the bulletin’s factors need revision or supplementation and whether additional guidance should be developed. A pension risk transfer in this case is the purchase of an annuity in the context of selecting an annuity provider for a defined benefit pension plan. “Today’s report is the result of an extensive and thorough review, including more than 40 stakeholder meetings on this topic and input received through our consultation with the ERISA Advisory Council,” said Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Lisa M. Gomez. “We look forward to further exploration of the issues and concerns raised during the process, so that we can consider what next steps may be necessary to guide fiduciaries considering a pension risk transfer for their defined benefit pension plans, so that the fiduciaries can meet their obligations to participants and beneficiaries.”Some stakeholders urged EBSA to update Interpretive Bulletin 95-1 to focus fiduciaries’ attention on issues such as insurers’ ownership structures, exposure to risky assets and non-traditional liabilities, and use of affiliated and offshore reinsurance. While some industry participants say the existing bulletin fully addresses these topics, EBSA found that further consideration should be given to amendments to its guidance that could enhance fiduciary decision-making when selecting an annuity provider. These issues—separately or in combination—may expose annuitants to excessive risk. Broader public input is an important next step in determining how Interpretive Bulletin 95-1 might be amended to address potential risks to participants and beneficiaries. Any changes will be preceded by public notice and comment.Read the report to Congress and appendices.

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