- Retirement Learning Center - https://retirementlc.com -

Get Ready to Explain Lifetime Income Illustrations

“When are the new lifetime income illustrations due and what should I be telling my clients who are 401(k) sponsors and participants about them?”

ERISA consultants at the Retirement Learning Center (RLC) Resource Desk regularly receive calls from financial advisors on a broad array of technical topics related to IRAs, qualified retirement plans and other types of retirement savings and income plans, including nonqualified plans, stock options, and Social Security and Medicare.  We bring Case of the Week to you to highlight the most relevant topics affecting your business.

A recent call with an advisor in Colorado is representative of a common question related lifetime income illustrations in 401(k) plans.

Highlights of Discussion


Current Account Balance $125,000
Single Life Annuity $645 per month for life (assuming Participant X is age 67 on December 31, 2022)
Qualified Joint and 100% Annuity $533 per month for participant’s life, and $533 for the life of spouse following participant’s death (assuming Participant X and her hypothetical spouse are age 67 on December 31, 2022)

Source: DOL Fact Sheet [3]


  1. Alert plan sponsors to the rules, assumptions, and the potential for negative feedback from plan participants. Explain the DOL assumptions upon which the income illustrations are based and how they may understate the actual retirement income amount—especially for younger plan participants.
  2. Craft an employee communication strategy explaining the new statements and assumptions. Provide a positive, encouraging message about the importance of making ongoing deferrals, automatically escalating deferral rates, the time value of contributions, and explain why the actual number will likely be larger—especially with ongoing contributions.
  3. Execute the communication plan and provide ongoing support.



Slowly the DC market is shifting from a lump sum accumulation mindset to a retirement income mentality. Plan sponsors soon must implement the formalized lifetime income disclosure rules. Although the lifetime income illustrations under the DOL’s regulations are far from perfect, they do press the issue of helping participants understand how their retirement plan balances translate into monthly retirement income. Plan sponsors and advisors can use this impetus to carefully craft their participant communications and messaging. A key differentiator for advisors, moving forward, will be the ability to effectively support participants in transitioning to a true retirement income mindset.