From the Executive Editor

By Norman Levinrad • May 17, 2016 • 0 Comments
Hi there ACOPeeps, I hope you are all enjoying springtime – the sunshine, the flowers, the birds, the pollen, the severe allergies, and the catch-up work on all the stuff you put aside the last few months. 
Two weeks ago I was in my truck for six hours (each way) with my friend Thomas. Thomas is a fairly conservative guy, and I am fairly liberal, so we had a lot to talk about given the crazy election run-up we are experiencing. Somehow we started talking about unions. Like many conservatives, Thomas doesn’t like unions. I have no objection to unions because I know that many of the rights that workers take for granted today were hard fought for by unions, like 40-hour work weeks, vacation pay, overtime pay and so on. One point Thomas made that I thought was interesting, is that he said that he has no objection to private sector unions because both the employer and the union need the same thing, which is for the business to be successful. Thomas opposes public sector unions because he feels there is no similar goal for the union and the government entities that negotiate the benefits. Do the huge liabilities many government entities face for their pension obligations prove Thomas’ point?  A day or two later I read an article about pensions in Atlantic City for lifeguards.
A few weeks ago the IRS gave us some favorable guidance in IRS Chief Counsel memorandum 201605013 about how plans can use the otherwise excludable employee rule for testing purposes. I asked Lynn Young to write an article to explain this to us, and Lynn graciously agreed (actually Kevin Donovan volunteered her for it). Lynn’s article is here.
Kevin Donovan and I were doing one of our seminars together in March, and in the section on RMDs we had a “spirited” discussion with Eugene Joseph about what happens when a participant has to go into pay status but does not make an election and then dies. I asked my good friend Lauren Okum to research and write an article for us on this issue, and Lauren also expanded this to cover another conversation related to RMDs that took place on the ACOPA listserv about how 417(e) applies when you adjust from a life annuity to an installment. Lauren’s article is here.
Our ACOPA leaders have been travelling all over for meetings with other actuarial organizations, and Kurt Piper’s article updating us on this is here
Judy Miller, our Executive Director, has provided us with her regular update about what’s going on in DC and what we can look forward to, or can start worrying about. Judy’s article is here
There is a perception that actuaries are a boring, nerdy bunch. But I know some of you have pretty cool hobbies, and there’s nothing people with hobbies enjoy more than talking about their hobbies (as anyone who I have corralled to talk about motorcycles knows full well). For example, Valerie Lopez, a senior actuary at ASC, told me she interviews comics for a local comedy podcast and cohosts another comedy podcast. Now that is a cool and interesting hobby! Here’s a brief interview I did with Valerie about it. If you want people to know about an exciting hobby of yours that blows up the stereotype of actuaries as boring nerds, email me about it we’ll include a short blurb telling our readers about it. 
Have a great spring, and don’t let the allergies get the better of you!