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WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Labor put a new rule into effect that allows employee benefit plan administrators to use an electronic “notice-and-access” disclosure system, as a default method, which will make it much more difficult for millions of Americans who received critical, paper-based information about their 401k, pension and retirement plan rules. In a 2019 Pew Research Center survey, 10 percent of U.S. adults said they do not use the internet. American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) President and CEO Heidi Brock issued the following statement in response to the rule:
“The American Forest & Paper Association is disappointed the Department of Labor’s ‘notice-and-access’ rule will result in fewer Americans receiving critical financial information to help them plan for retirement.
“By creating electronic disclosures as the default, U.S. retirement plan holders must now navigate an onerous process to retrieve critical plan and benefit information that would otherwise arrive automatically and reliably by mail. This rule also goes into effect at a time when millions of Americans are worried about COVID-19 and their personal finances. Requiring retirement plan participants and beneficiaries to track down essential documents runs counter to the ‘common-sense’ efforts the Department of Labor sought to address in the first place. Consumers didn’t ask for this change, and the rule undermines the DOL mission to assure work-related benefits are provided to wage earners and retirees. We encourage Americans to be aware of the new ‘notice-and-access’ system and to opt-out of digital access if they prefer to receive benefit statements and retirement plan rules on paper.”
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The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance a sustainable U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. AF&PA member companies make products essential for everyday life from renewable and recyclable resources and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative — Better Practices, Better Planet 2020. The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures nearly $300 billion in products annually and employs approximately 950,000 men and women. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $55 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states. Visit AF&PA online at afandpa.org or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.