DoL Puts Out Annuity Provider Selection Guidance

September 11, 2007 ( - The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) on Tuesday issued two rules under the Pension Protection Act (PPA) relating to annuity provider selection to provide plan distributions.

A DoL news release said the agency had issued:

  • an interim final rule amending Interpretative Bulletin 95-1 to limit the bulletin’s application to the selection of annuity providers for distributions from defined benefit plans.
  • a proposed rule to provide guidance, in the form of a safe harbor, for annuity provider selection fiduciaries for benefit distributions from individual account plans, such as 401(k)s.

Under the proposed safe harbor, the DoL said fiduciaries must:

  • conduct an objective, thorough and analytical search to identify and select providers.
  • consider the need to engage an expert to assist in its evaluation of providers.
  • appropriately conclude that the annuity provider would be financially able to make all future payments under the contract, and the cost of the contract is reasonable in relation to the benefits and services to be provided under the contract.

According to the DoL, the PPA required the agency to issue regulations clarifying that the selection of an annuity contract as an optional distribution from an individual account plan is not subject to the “safest available” standard under Interpretive Bulletin 95-1, but is subject to all otherwise applicable fiduciary standards.

The interim final and proposed rules are to be published in Wednesday’s edition of the Federal Register. Public comments should be submitted electronically to DoL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration at or through the federal e-rulemaking portal at .  

The full text of the new rules is  here .