Eligibility, Enrollment & Participant Data Changes
Step 1 – Complete Beneficiary Designation Form
A participant can name anyone he or she desires as a beneficiary. However, if a participant is married, the Retirement Equity Act of 1984 requires that spousal consent be obtained if the spouse is not named as the sole primary beneficiary.
If a single participant becomes married, his or her spouse automatically becomes the beneficiary unless another beneficiary is named and the new spouse consents. Also, if a married participant is divorced, the former spouse automatically ceases to be a beneficiary (provided the plan receives timely notice prior to a distribution), but may still be entitled to some or all of the participant’s benefits as a result of the divorce to the extent provided in a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) (see QDROs).
When the spouse gives a blanket (or one-time) consent, he or she is consenting to the current named beneficiary and also to any other beneficiaries named at a later date, without requiring any further consent from the spouse. If the spouse does not wish to give his or her blanket consent, the spouse should check the box next to “If this beneficiary designation is revoked, I DO NOT permit future beneficiary designation changes…” in Section 5 on the Beneficiary Designation Form. By doing so, the participant must get spousal consent again to make any future beneficiary changes.
If your plan is a money purchase pension plan or a target benefit plan (or contains monies that are transferred from such plans), on the first day of the plan year during which a married participant reaches age 35, his or her spouse is automatically reinstated as the sole beneficiary. At such time, a new beneficiary election, with the spouse’s consent, is required for the beneficiary to be someone other than the spouse.
The spouse’s signature must be witnessed by either the plan representative or a notary public for a spouse’s consent to be valid. The date of the witness’s signature must be the same date as the spouse’s signature. If the participant is also the Plan Administrator, the witness must be a notary public. The beneficiary designation is effective on the date the employer signs the form, whether or not the participant is living at the time the form is received by the Program.
Beneficiaries of deceased participants or alternate payees of an account established from a QDRO (see QDROs) will need to complete the Beneficiary Designation Form if they want to continue maintaining an account in your plan and wish to name a beneficiary for that account. Consent from the beneficiary’s or alternate payee’s spouse is not required. As Plan Administrator, you need to supply the beneficiary or alternate payee with a Beneficiary Designation Form.
Step 2 – Send Forms to the Program
Once you receive the participant’s completed forms, you must sign them as the Plan Administrator. Submit the forms to the Program using one of the methods provided under “Mail & E-mail” in Forms, Tools and Resources.
Steps 3 Through 5 – the Program’s Role
The Program will process the forms upon receipt and send the participant an enrollment confirmation notice, which will include investment elections, a separate confirmation notice listing the beneficiary designations and a separately mailed password.
The participant can use his or her password to access account information and make transactions through the Customer Service Center by calling 800.348.2272 or through the website at www.abaretirement.com. Participants can change their password by calling the Customer Service Center or accessing the website.