Summary: H.R.4280 — 98th Congress (1983-1984)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (08/06/1984)

(Measure passed Senate, amended)

Retirement Equity Act of 1984 - Title I: Amendments to the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 - Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to lower from age 25 to age 21 the age limitation for minimum participation and vesting standards for pension plans.

Prohibits certain defined benefit plans from requiring, as a condition for plan participation, that employees complete periods of service extending beyond the earlier of age 25 or the vesting expectation date.

Lowers from age 22 to age 18 the age limitation for the computation of periods of service.

States that years of service may be disregarded when computing periods of service for participation or vesting purposes if breaks in service during such a period amounted to five or more one-year breaks.

Declares that, in the case of participants in individual account plans who incur five consecutive one-year breaks in service, years of service after such breaks do not have to be taken into account for purposes of determining a certain nonforfeitable percentage of specified benefits.

Treats breaks in service due to pregnancy, birth, or adoption of a child as completed hours of service according to a specified formula. Accords such treatment only in the year of the pregnancy, birth or adoption, and only to participants who would incur a one-year break in service without such treatment. Limits to 501 the number of hours in such a one-year break that may be treated as hours of service.

Requires pension plans which provide life annuity benefits to pay such benefits in the form of a qualified joint and survivor annuity. Requires defined benefit plans and individual account plans to provide qualified preretirement survivor annuities for the life of the surviving spouse if a vested participant dies before the annuity starting date.

Exempts certain accrued benefits in specified employee stock ownership plans from compliance with the joint and preretirement annuity requirements. Requires plans to provide participants with written explanations regarding preretirement survivor annuities within a specified time.

Requires that each pension plan participant have the option of electing, waiving, or revoking the joint and survivor annuity form of benefit. Conditions the efficacy of such election upon: (1) the written consent of a participant's spouse; (2) a written acknowledgement by a participant's spouse of the effect of such election; and (3) an official witnessing of such spousal consent by a plan representative or notary public. Limits such consent to the signatory spouse. Requires pension plans to furnish participants with written explanations of the terms and rights of election regarding joint and survivor annuities.

Permits joint and survivors' annuity plans to condition the payment of a survivor's annuity upon a one-year period of marriage ending on the earlier of either the annuity starting date or the participant's date of death (currently, a couple must be married for at least one year before both dates).

Prohibits joint and survivor annuity payments from being less than the actuarial equivalent of payments made if the annuitant had lived to the earliest date of retirement or had separated from service on the date of death.

Specifies the earliest period in which a surviving spouse may elect to receive a survivor's annuity.

Requires the surviving spouse's written consent for any distribution of nonforfeitable benefits exceeding $3,500.

Exempts qualified domestic relations orders from the Act's proscriptions against alienation and assignment of pension plan benefits. Sets procedural guidelines for the payment of such benefits to an alternate payee under such orders. Prohibits alternate payees from receiving any portion of any increase in a participant's accrued benefits if such increases occur after payments to such payees have begun.

Declares that alternate payees under domestic relations orders shall be considered beneficiaries under the pension plan.

Exempts certain qualified domestic relations orders from being preempted by this Act.

Increases from $1,750 to $3,500 the allowable mandatory distribution from a retirement plan.

Requires notification to participants that certain benefits may be forfeitable if the participant dies before a certain date.

Title II: Amendments to the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to conform to the provisions of this Act.

Requires plan administrators to notify recipients when certain distributions may be transferred (rolled-over) without incurring a tax liability.

Title III: General Provisions - Sets December 31, 1984, as the effective date of this Act for existing plans. Provides transitional dates and certain effective dates for plans maintained under collective bargaining agreements.

Directs the Comptroller General of the United States to report to certain congressional committees regarding the effect of specified features of this Act upon women.