AARP calls for calm in electronic fee disclosures

With the clock ticking to the debut of participant-level fee disclosures, a major force in the American retirement scene has weighed in on the issue - and suggests that a fast move to a more electronic-focused world of disclosure statements is a bit of a rush.

The AARP, in a 28-page letter submitted electronically to DOL assistant secretary Phyllis Borzi, says that the massive seniors' rights organization supports the changes allowing e-mail and website access to retirement program participant disclosures, but emphasizes that old-fashioned paper records are still an important tool for many recipients.

"Participants and beneficiaries should have the right to opt out and receive only paper disclosures by request at any time," states David Certner, AARP's legislative counsel and director of legislative policy. "If a participant requests to receive the disclosure by paper, requests a paper copy at work or wants to print out a paper copy at the employer's site, the plan must provide the disclosure by mail or paper and the employer should not take any adverse reaction against the participant, including charging for printing."

The organization maintains that it does indeed support electronic distribution as an available option but says its own research shows that retirees have not, for the most part, moved into the computerized world as quickly as their younger counterparts.

AARP stats say that 68 percent of 45 to 64 year olds have home Internet broadband access, but that number drops to 40 percent of those aged 65 and older. Fifty-one percent of respondents over age 65 admitted they did not use computers at all and only 44 percent of those aged 65 to 73 did online banking.

Citing research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, AARP noted that those seniors who are online were the most motivated in finding financial information via the Internet (44 percent) versus Boomers, Gen Xers or Millenials.

The organization says its most recent research, which dates back to 2007 and 2008, suggests that 75 percent of respondents would prefer to receive their fee disclosures in paper form.



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