Regulations requiring in-person spousal consent for certain defined benefit plan distributions need to be changed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Benefits Council said in letters to congressional leaders and Treasury Department officials.
"Such a physical presence requirement is directly contrary to the critical health needs of the country," said Lynn Dudley, senior vice president for global retirement and compensation policy at the American Benefits Council, in a letter sent to congressional leaders Monday.
Currently, spousal consent is required for a pension plan participant to receive their benefits in a lump sum and certain other forms. In addition, the regulation states spousal consent needs to be witnessed in the "physical presence" of a plan representative or notary.
"It is clearly dangerous and inappropriate to ask families to jeopardize their health to obtain funds that are so desperately needed," Ms. Dudley said in the letter.
The American Benefits Council urged congressional leaders to include the bipartisan Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act, referred to as the SECURE Notarization Act, in the next broad coronavirus relief package. The bill, which was introduced in March by Sens. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., would permit the immediate nationwide use of remote online notarizations, a type of electronic notarization where the notary and signer are in different physical locations.