The Department of Labor has issued new guidance in a field assistance bulletin to clarify existing safe harbor rules for immediate and deferred annuities in defined contribution plans.

The new guidance comes as the DOL is in the process of considering amendments to safe harbor regulations issued in 2008.

Those safe harbor standards said a plan trustee satisfies their fiduciary obligations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act if they appropriately consider "information sufficient to assess the ability of the annuity provider to make all future payments under the contract," among other safe harbor provisions relating to ERISA's self-dealing, conflict-of-interest and reasonable fee provisions.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.