Skip to Main Content


December 23, 2019

A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action: Major Retirement Plan Legislation Is Finally Signed Into Law

After being on the verge of enactment last spring but failing to pass, the SECURE Act will become law after all. Congress included the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 1994) (the SECURE Act) in the year-end spending legislation needed to keep the government running. The House passed the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (H.R. 1865) - which included the SECURE Act provisions - on December 17, 2019. The Senate followed on December 19, 2019, and President Trump signed it on the last day possible for the spending bill - December 20, 2019.

For a summary of the major SECURE Act provisions that impact retirement plans, see our previous article. In addition to including the SECURE Act provisions, the year-end legislation adds a few other provisions impacting retirement plans and other benefits. Defined benefit plans such as cash balance plans can now allow in-service withdrawals once a participant reaches age 59-1/2, instead of age 62. The minimum age for in-service withdrawals from 457(b) plans is also lowered to 59-1/2.

For welfare benefits, the year-end legislation repeals the “Cadillac Tax” which would have otherwise taken effect in 2022. The Cadillac Tax was part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and would have imposed a 40% excise tax on the insurer or employer for any “high cost” employer-provided health plan coverage.

Many of the benefits provisions are effective in 2020, although some are optional. The legislation generally provides time to amend retirement plans until the last day of the plan year that begins in 2022, and some governmental plans and collectively bargained plans have later deadlines until as late as 2024.

We will be covering many of the specific changes in more detail in upcoming blog posts. Sign up to regularly receive our blog posts (which come more often and on more varied topics than our Alerts).

This publication is designed to provide general information on pertinent legal topics. The statements made are provided for educational purposes only. They do not constitute legal or financial advice nor do they necessarily reflect the views of Holland & Hart LLP or any of its attorneys other than the author(s). This publication is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and Holland & Hart LLP. Substantive changes in the law subsequent to the date of this publication might affect the analysis or commentary. Similarly, the analysis may differ depending on the jurisdiction or circumstances. If you have specific questions as to the application of the law to your activities, you should seek the advice of your legal counsel.


Unless you are a current client of Holland & Hart LLP, please do not send any confidential information by email. If you are not a current client and send an email to an individual at Holland & Hart LLP, you acknowledge that we have no obligation to maintain the confidentiality of any information you submit to us, unless we have already agreed to represent you or we later agree to do so. Thus, we may represent a party adverse to you, even if the information you submit to us could be used against you in a matter, and even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us.