Retirement FAQs For Employers
Electronic Delivery and Request for information
Plans have customarily required participants to provide basic information at the time of enrollment, including a postal address. As the world has evolved digitally, an email address provides a more efficient point of contact than a physical address. Beginning in 2022, Alerus has complied with the DOL regulations for electronic delivery of quarterly statements. Email addresses are essential, like the requirement for a physical address.
Use of email to deliver information to plan participants has many benefits to both plan sponsors and participants:
- Speed. The most apparent benefit of email notices is the speed at which they are delivered, compared to traditional postal
- Security. Having the participant retrieve their quarterly statement from our secure website using their unique login credentials is Alerus employs advanced multi-factor authentication technology to protect a user’s access and account.
- Accessibility. A participant can retrieve their statement via the secure website, from any computer, from anywhere in the world that has an internet Furthermore, they can retrieve information at a time that is convenient for them.
- Eco-friendly. Avoiding paper copies and physical mailings is beneficial to our planet.
- Minimize lost participants. Recently, the Department of Labor issued a list of best practices for employers to avoid lost One suggested practice is the maintenance of contact via the plan’s online platform. When participants move they may not update their physical address. However, email addresses tend to remain the same. The email contact reduces the chance of a missing participant and the employer’s burden to locate them using other means.
In addition, as employee email addresses are loaded into our recordkeeping system, they are included in many of the reports that are readily available on our website. You can retrieve these reports for your use in communicating via email with plan participants. For example, email addresses will be included in the “Terminated Participants with an Account Balance” report.
You can send email addresses to Alerus in one of two ways:
- Contribution file. Commonly referred to as a payroll file, contribution file structure, or contribution template. This file reports employee indicative information as well as retirement plan contributions and is uploaded through Contribution Submission. Both company and personal email addresses should be included in separate columns on this file. For more information about adding columns, contact your Alerus representative.
- Standalone file. A standalone file is used by employers who manually enter participant contributions into the Alerus system. We will provide an Excel file template for the employer to populate with employee indicative data, including company and personal email addresses. The completed file is then uploaded via Employer Plan Access. Thereafter, files should be uploaded as frequently as needed to maintain current email addresses.
Email addresses must generally be in the following format firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and cannot be more than 32 characters long.
No, to meet the requirements of the regulation, an email address for each employee must be used.
If you do not have personal email addresses for all employees, please include those you have and leave the others blank. If you have no personal email addresses, leave the entire personal email column blank.
If you do not issue company email addresses to your employees, leave the entire company email column blank. Then make every effort to include a personal email address for each employee in the personal email address column. If you do not have email addresses for anyone, please contact your Alerus representative.
Managed Accounts Program (MAP)
Alerus’ managed account program (MAP) delivers retirement advice directly to participants, helping them navigate retirement with confidence. MAP is much more than an investment solution; it allows participants to prioritize personal goals to deliver a tailored solution. This includes advice on contribution rate and investment strategy to meet participant goals around retirement income range, retirement age, and risk appetite.
To learn more about Alerus Managed Account Program, click here.
Personalization. Unlike target-date funds that focus on a hypothetical retirement date or risk-based solutions with static portfolios, Alerus’ managed accounts create solutions based on personalized goals. According to research by the Vanguard Group, Inc., most participants who adopted managed account advice realized higher projected retirement wealth through improved expected returns and savings.
Not all managed account programs are equal, many focus on investment allocation only and are often constructed from the line-up in the current retirement plan. Alerus’ solution offers holistic retirement advice including contribution rate, prioritization of retirement goals, ability to include external retirement assets in your scenario, no proprietary mutual funds, and cost savings to balances above $400,000 by introducing individual securities ultimately reducing fund costs.
When a participant enrolls in MAP they provide relevant retirement information through an intuitive digital experience. MAP then analyzes combinations of retirement goals (retirement age and retirement income) and actions (savings rate and investment strategy). For each combination of these four elements, MAP determines the statistical likelihood that the strategy will fund an acceptable level of retirement income from the start of your retirement through your life expectancy. Alerus will monitor your managed account’s performance, periodically rebalance it back to its target allocations, and if your personal or financial circumstances lead to a different suggested strategy, we may change your investment to reflect the updated strategy. We recommend participants review and update their MAP data annually or as material changes in your personal situation occur.
Alerus will act as your investment advisor with full decision-making authority over the investments in your account(s). Alerus acknowledges that we are an “investment manager” as defined by ERISA’s Section 3(38). Unlike most other providers, the Alerus Managed Account Program does not use proprietary mutual funds in the participant asset allocations. This gives Alerus the freedom to create the most effective portfolio for participants. In addition, Alerus may offer individual securities to balances above $400,000 reducing management cost.
There is no minimum balance requirement.
The fee is 0.45 percent prorated over 365 days and applied to the average daily balance of your managed account. The fee is accrued daily and collected monthly. On an annual basis, the fee equals approximately $4.50 for each $1,000 invested.
Alerus MAP offers a digital experience to help you navigate your retirement goals. Alerus has backed this technology with a team of financial professionals to support more complex situations or questions. Participants are able to pick-up the phone and talk to a professional at no additional charge.
Participants can take a more active role at any time by personalizing their retirement strategy. For example, participants can adjust risk preference, change their desired retirement age, adjust savings rate, or desired retirement income, or have Alerus consider other investment accounts outside of the plan and a new simulation will analyze their scenario.
Participants can change investments at any time, moving assets from the Alerus MAP to the general plan fund choices. Transfers into and out of the Alerus MAP require three to five business days for processing.
Past Due Loans
Retirement plans may offer participant loan programs within the parameters of the Tax Code and the plan’s loan policy. The loan policy describes loan limitations and repayment processes. Plan sponsors must ensure timely loan payments are made and report defaulted loans to the IRS as taxable distributions.
If the participant fails to make up missed payments during the “cure period” the plan must report the unpaid balance to the IRS as a defaulted loan and taxable distribution.
Alerus provides past due loan status reports via Employer Plan Access. To review loans, including past-due loans:
- Log in to Plan Access and select your plan
- Under Manage My Plan, select Manage Loans
- Under the Loan Browse tab, click on the Status drop-down menu, select Past Due, and click Go
- Past Due Loans will show loans that are 32 days or more late.
Alerus will send the following reminder emails:
- Monthly: Alerus will notify you if a loan payment is more than 32 days late, following the expected loan payment date.
- Quarterly: Alerus will notify you of any loans that may be nearing the end of the IRS permitted cure period.
The cure period is a grace period during which participants may make up missed payments and avoid a defaulted loan. Each plan determines the cure period as part of its loan policy. Most plan sponsors have adopted the loan policy template provided by Alerus. That policy includes the following:
- Current employees: The plan uses the maximum IRS Cure Period. The grace period begins on the date of the missed payment and ends on the last day of the following calendar quarter. For example, if Bob misses a payment due February 2, he has until June 30 to bring the payment current. If he fails to do so, the plan reports the outstanding loan balance as a distribution.
- Former employees: If a participant terminates employment, the outstanding loan balance may be due within 60 days. If your plan’s loan policy does not have language requiring the loan to be defaulted due to termination, the cure period grace period applies.
Yes, loan policies may permit participants to forego payments during approved leaves of absence or military leave. For non-military leave, the delay can be for no more than 12 months. More liberal rules apply to military leave. Also, your loan policy may provide participants with a period of 60 days in which to repay a loan in full, following employment termination. You should review your loan policy for specific rules covering these issues.
An approved leave of absence is generally medical, maternity, paternity, FMLA, or military leave. The IRS has not guided whether layoffs caused by seasonal employment or employer-initiated temporary shutdowns are approved leaves of absence. To avoid default questions, some plan sponsors require loan repayments during layoffs.
There are three options for curing the default, provided the action occurs during the cure period:
- Make a lump sum payment to bring the loan current.
- Increase payments so the loan is current by the end of the cure period.
- Refinance the loan, if the plan’s loan policy permits. Refinancing will pay off the old loan and begin a new loan. However, to avoid exceeding the IRS loan limitations, the new loan must not have a final payment date later than the original loan. In other words, the refinanced loan should merely re- amortize the amount due over the remaining loan period.
The options depend upon whether you or the employee caused the failure to timely pay the loan.
- If the employee failed to pay, then the loan balance should be reported to the IRS as a taxable distribution as of the last day of the cure period.
- If the employer’s actions caused the repayment failure (for example, a payroll withholding error), then the IRS permits a correction using its self-correction program (SCP). The correction procedure involves bringing the loan current by either a single-sum repayment, re-amortization of the outstanding loan balance, or a combination of the two.
Note: SCP has additional rules. Not every failed repayment situation qualifies. Please contact the Alerus administrator assigned to your plan for further information.
It depends on whether participants are active or terminated:
- Active participants: Form 1099-R is issued and the loan remains on the recordkeeping and trust system until the participant terminates. This is in accordance with IRS rules and is called a “deemed distribution.”
- Terminated participants: Form 1099-R is issued and the loan is treated as a distribution and removed from the participant’s account balance even if the participant chooses to defer distribution of the mutual fund investments.