If you like receiving paper 401(k) and pension statements, you need to act fast before they disappear.
A new U.S. Department of Labor rule lets private sector retirement plan administrators default to sending required retirement-plan documents via electronic media: email, texts and websites.
While you still have the option of paper statements, you need to express that preference by July 27, or it is possible your paper statements could stop arriving in your mailbox.
The documents in question — which administrators must send out under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) — include things such as:
- Quarterly benefits statements
- Plan summaries
- Plan changes
The Labor Department says delivering disclosures primarily electronically will cut printing, mailing and related plan costs by an estimated $3.2 billion over the next 10 years.
If your plan administrator opts for default electronic delivery, the administrator must notify you by paper prior to the change. However, as AARP notes:
“This onetime notice can be combined with other company materials, and many electronic notices can also be combined and provided once a year, so check everything you get from your employer carefully.”
How to keep the paper flowing
Although plan administrators have the option of making electronic delivery their default mode of communication, they are not required to do so. So, your first step is to find out if your administrator is going to pursue this direction.
If the answer is “yes,” and you want to continue receiving paper statements, you need to opt out of electronic delivery. So, call or write to your employer or plan administrator and make your preferences known before July 27.
Miss that date, and it’s possible your paper statements suddenly could stop arriving. However, you can request to return to paper statements at any time.
The Labor Department has posted a fact sheet explaining the changes. If you have additional questions, AARP suggests speaking with a department benefits adviser by dialing toll-free to 866-444-3272.
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Deciding how to receive your retirement statements is an important but relatively easy move. On the other hand, actually building a nest egg that will see you through your golden years is a bit more challenging.
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