Hardship Withdrawals for Expenses Related to Natural Disasters, 61805-61806 [2020-20762]

Download as PDF 61805 Rules and Regulations Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 191 Thursday, October 1, 2020 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510. The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. FEDERAL RETIREMENT THRIFT INVESTMENT BOARD 5 CFR Part 1650 Hardship Withdrawals for Expenses Related to Natural Disasters Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (‘‘FRTIB’’) is amending its regulations to allow participants to take hardship withdrawals for expenses related to natural disasters. DATES: This rule is effective October 1, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jessica Bradford, (202) 864–8699. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The FRTIB administers the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which was established by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986 (FERSA), Public Law 99–335, 100 Stat. 514. The TSP provisions of FERSA are codified, as amended, largely at 5 U.S.C. 8351 and 8401–79. The TSP is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan for federal civilian employees and members of the uniformed services. The TSP is similar to cash or deferred arrangements established for private-sector employees under section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 401(k)). On February 14, 2020, the FRTIB published a proposed rule with request for comments in the Federal Register (85 FR 8482), and for reasons described below, is publishing the proposed rule as final without change. The proposed rule amended 5 CFR 1650.32(b) to add to its list of authorized hardship expenses, the expenses and losses (including loss of income) resulting from a natural disaster as declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (‘‘FEMA’’) and designated for individual assistance in order to allow TSP participants to make jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 financial hardship withdrawals for such natural disaster expenses and losses. The FRTIB received six comments. Three of the comments expressed approval of the proposed regulation and recommended no changes. One commenter encouraged the FRTIB to expand other parts of the FRTIB’s hardship withdrawal program, such as permitting withdrawal of the full balance subject to certain minimum account values and increasing the current six-month wait period to 12 months between financial hardship requests. The proposed regulation sought comments exclusively on adding natural disaster expenses and losses to the TSP’s hardship withdrawal conditions, and, therefore, the FRTIB cannot further expand the withdrawal program beyond that purpose in the final regulation. Another commenter asked whether a TSP participant may make a withdrawal under the natural disaster condition for expenses related to a family member’s death resulting from the natural disaster. The final regulation does not limit the expense to a specific type, such as property expenses or medical expenses. Rather, the regulation requires that the expense be ‘‘incurred by the participant on account of a disaster declared by the [FEMA]’’ and that the participant’s principal residence or principal place of employment at the time of the disaster be located in an area designated by the FEMA for individual assistance with respect to the disaster. Any expense that meets these requirements would be eligible for a hardship withdrawal. For example, provided the participant’s principal residence at the time of the disaster was located in an area declared by the FEMA for individual assistance, if a TSP participant’s dependent or spouse died as a result of a natural disaster, and, as a result, the participant incurred funeral expenses relating to that dependent or spouse, then the expense would be eligible for a hardship withdrawal under 1650.32(b)(5). Another commenter urged the FRTIB to treat pandemics such as COVID–19 as natural disasters under this regulation. Guided by legislation, the FRTIB has implemented other withdrawal options designed to afford relief for adverse financial consequences due to COVID– 19. For more information about those PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 options, please visit www.tsp.gov/covid19/. Regulatory Flexibility Act I certify that this regulation will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This regulation will affect Federal employees, members of the uniformed services who participate in the Thrift Savings Plan, and their beneficiaries. The TSP is a Federal defined contribution retirement savings plan created FERSA and is administered by the Agency. Paperwork Reduction Act I certify that these regulations do not require additional reporting under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 Pursuant to the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 602, 632, 653, 1501–1571, the effects of this regulation on state, local, and tribal governments and the private sector have been assessed. This regulation will not compel the expenditure in any one year of $100 million or more by state, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector. Therefore, a statement under 1532 is not required. List of Subjects in 5 CFR Part 1650 Taxes, Claims, Government employees, Pensions, Retirement. Ravindra Deo, Executive Director, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. For the reasons stated in the preamble, the FRTIB amends 5 CFR chapter VI as follows: PART 1650—METHODS OF WITHDRAWING FUNDS FROM THE THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN 1. The authority citation for part 1650 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 5 U.S.C. 8351, 8432d, 8433, 8434, 8435, 8474(b)(5) and 8474(c)(1). 2. Amend § 1650.32 by revising paragraph (b) introductory text and adding paragraph (b)(5) to read as follows: ■ § 1650.32 Financial hardship withdrawals. * * * * * (b) To be eligible for a financial hardship withdrawal, a participant must E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1 61806 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations have a financial need that results from at least one of the following five conditions: * * * * * (5) The participant has incurred expenses and losses (including loss of income) on account of a disaster declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 100–707, provided that the participant’s principal residence or principal place of employment at the time of the disaster was located in an area designated by the FEMA for individual assistance with respect to the disaster. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–20762 Filed 9–30–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6760–01–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 7 CFR Parts 301 and 319 [Docket No. APHIS–2016–0065] RIN 0579–AE41 Deregulation of Pine Shoot Beetle Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: We are adopting as a final rule, without change, a proposal to amend our regulations to remove the domestic pine shoot beetle (PSB) quarantine and to eliminate the restrictions that apply to the importation of PSB host material from Canada. We have determined through analysis that the regulatory program is ineffective in slowing the spread of the pest and reducing damage, which has also been found to be minimal. This action will provide flexibility to the States as they manage PSB. It will also allow Federal resources spent on this program to be allocated elsewhere, and it will remove PSB-related interstate movement and importation restrictions on PSB-regulated articles. DATES: Effective November 2, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Bill Wesela, National Policy Manager, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 22, Riverdale, MD 20737–1236; (301) 851– 2229; William.D.Wesela@usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: Background Pine shoot beetle (PSB, Tomicus piniperda) is a pest of pines in Africa, VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 Asia, and Europe. Biologically, this species of bark beetle is considered to be a secondary pest of pine and not able to successfully attack healthy trees. PSB colonizes fresh timber and dying pine trees in early spring. Larvae feed within the galleries under the bark and emerge as adults from shoots after a hard frost. They then move to the base of the tree to reproduce. PSB was first detected in the United States in a Christmas tree farm in Ohio in 1992. Based on an initial finding of potentially high economic losses in 1992, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) implemented a program to regulate atrisk pine commodities, including logs with bark, Christmas trees, and nursery stock in known infested areas. The regulations in ‘‘Subpart G—Pine Shoot Beetle’’ (7 CFR 301.50 through 301.50–10, referred to below as the regulations) had restricted interstate movement of certain regulated articles (generally wood and wood products) from quarantined areas in order to prevent spread of PSB into non-infested areas of the United States. Since APHIS initiated the PSB program in 1992, PSB has advanced at a slow rate, and damage to native pines, plantations, and the nursery trade has been minimal. In 2015, APHIS met with the National Plant Board, which represents plant protection divisions of State departments of agriculture, to reassess the relevance and need for the PSB regulatory program. This was due to the slow advancement and minimal damage of PSB and the limited resources allotted to the PSB program. We prepared an analysis of regulatory options, ‘‘Pine Shoot Beetle, Tomicus piniperda (Linnaeus): Analysis of Regulatory Options’’ (February 2015), referred to below as the February 2015 analysis, to evaluate the PSB program in terms of its effectiveness and efficiency in slowing the spread and reducing losses. The analysis looked at timber losses and estimated compliance costs that Christmas tree growers incur in quarantined areas. Given the little PSB damage observed and the amount of resources allocated to manage the minimal risks associated with PSB, we determined it appropriate to deregulate PSB. While the possibility exists that PSB may spread at a faster rate and enter Southern States sooner in the absence of Federal regulations, we anticipated that PSB would be controlled within managed timber stands in the South. PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Accordingly, in a proposed rule 1 published in the Federal Register on September 23, 2019 (84 FR 49680– 49681, Docket No. APHIS–2016–0065), we proposed to remove the domestic PSB quarantine and the restrictions that apply to importation of PSB host material from Canada. We solicited comments concerning our proposal for 60 days ending November 22, 2019. We received 10 comments by the close of the comment period. They were from private citizens and one State forestry. Of the commenters, six opposed deregulation and the proposed rule. The remaining four commenters urged caution in deregulation, raising concerns similar to those opposed. One of these latter commenters recognized the positive economic impacts of deregulation on the industry, yet still pressed PSB concerns. Comments fell into seven distinct categories: Concern for natural forestland protection; support for the current regulations out of perception that they work; concern for the pine industry and economy; concerns for future impacts of PSB; concerns regarding reallocation of regulatory funding; requests for delay or phase-in of deregulation with monitoring and assessment before action; and requests that science direct regulation of PSB. We have characterized the comments received below according to these topics. Natural Forestland Protection A majority of the 10 commenters wanted continued regulation to prevent PSB from inflicting pine tree losses on ‘‘natural’’ and wild forests, as well as private lands. Some addressed vulnerability of pine to PSB impact on tree trunks. Two commenters expressed concern over what they considered the growth-stunting potential of PSB in harming shoots of pine trees. The commenters stated that this is significant in that shoots are means of photosynthesis, energy conversion, and thus growth, which could impact yields and incomes. We acknowledge that PSB can inflict damage on pine trees and that it is a plant pest. Our February 2015 analysis did not state otherwise. The analysis also reviewed studies that showed adult PSB prefers to colonize freshly-cut stumps and slash. Nonetheless, the analysis concluded that pine-stand owners and the industry can and do 1 To view the proposed rule, its supporting documents, and the comments that we received, go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS2016-0065. E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 191 (Thursday, October 1, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 61805-61806]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-20762]



========================================================================
Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents 
having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed 
to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published 
under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510.

The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. 

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 61805]]



FEDERAL RETIREMENT THRIFT INVESTMENT BOARD

5 CFR Part 1650


Hardship Withdrawals for Expenses Related to Natural Disasters

AGENCY: Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (``FRTIB'') is 
amending its regulations to allow participants to take hardship 
withdrawals for expenses related to natural disasters.

DATES: This rule is effective October 1, 2020.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jessica Bradford, (202) 864-8699.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The FRTIB administers the Thrift Savings 
Plan (TSP), which was established by the Federal Employees' Retirement 
System Act of 1986 (FERSA), Public Law 99-335, 100 Stat. 514. The TSP 
provisions of FERSA are codified, as amended, largely at 5 U.S.C. 8351 
and 8401-79. The TSP is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan for 
federal civilian employees and members of the uniformed services. The 
TSP is similar to cash or deferred arrangements established for 
private-sector employees under section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue 
Code (26 U.S.C. 401(k)).
    On February 14, 2020, the FRTIB published a proposed rule with 
request for comments in the Federal Register (85 FR 8482), and for 
reasons described below, is publishing the proposed rule as final 
without change.
    The proposed rule amended 5 CFR 1650.32(b) to add to its list of 
authorized hardship expenses, the expenses and losses (including loss 
of income) resulting from a natural disaster as declared by the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency (``FEMA'') and designated for individual 
assistance in order to allow TSP participants to make financial 
hardship withdrawals for such natural disaster expenses and losses. The 
FRTIB received six comments. Three of the comments expressed approval 
of the proposed regulation and recommended no changes.
    One commenter encouraged the FRTIB to expand other parts of the 
FRTIB's hardship withdrawal program, such as permitting withdrawal of 
the full balance subject to certain minimum account values and 
increasing the current six-month wait period to 12 months between 
financial hardship requests. The proposed regulation sought comments 
exclusively on adding natural disaster expenses and losses to the TSP's 
hardship withdrawal conditions, and, therefore, the FRTIB cannot 
further expand the withdrawal program beyond that purpose in the final 
regulation.
    Another commenter asked whether a TSP participant may make a 
withdrawal under the natural disaster condition for expenses related to 
a family member's death resulting from the natural disaster. The final 
regulation does not limit the expense to a specific type, such as 
property expenses or medical expenses. Rather, the regulation requires 
that the expense be ``incurred by the participant on account of a 
disaster declared by the [FEMA]'' and that the participant's principal 
residence or principal place of employment at the time of the disaster 
be located in an area designated by the FEMA for individual assistance 
with respect to the disaster. Any expense that meets these requirements 
would be eligible for a hardship withdrawal.
    For example, provided the participant's principal residence at the 
time of the disaster was located in an area declared by the FEMA for 
individual assistance, if a TSP participant's dependent or spouse died 
as a result of a natural disaster, and, as a result, the participant 
incurred funeral expenses relating to that dependent or spouse, then 
the expense would be eligible for a hardship withdrawal under 
1650.32(b)(5).
    Another commenter urged the FRTIB to treat pandemics such as COVID-
19 as natural disasters under this regulation. Guided by legislation, 
the FRTIB has implemented other withdrawal options designed to afford 
relief for adverse financial consequences due to COVID-19. For more 
information about those options, please visit www.tsp.gov/covid-19/.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    I certify that this regulation will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. This regulation will 
affect Federal employees, members of the uniformed services who 
participate in the Thrift Savings Plan, and their beneficiaries. The 
TSP is a Federal defined contribution retirement savings plan created 
FERSA and is administered by the Agency.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    I certify that these regulations do not require additional 
reporting under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    Pursuant to the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 602, 
632, 653, 1501-1571, the effects of this regulation on state, local, 
and tribal governments and the private sector have been assessed. This 
regulation will not compel the expenditure in any one year of $100 
million or more by state, local, and tribal governments, in the 
aggregate, or by the private sector. Therefore, a statement under 1532 
is not required.

List of Subjects in 5 CFR Part 1650

    Taxes, Claims, Government employees, Pensions, Retirement.

Ravindra Deo,
Executive Director, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the FRTIB amends 5 CFR 
chapter VI as follows:

PART 1650--METHODS OF WITHDRAWING FUNDS FROM THE THRIFT SAVINGS 
PLAN

0
1. The authority citation for part 1650 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 8351, 8432d, 8433, 8434, 8435, 8474(b)(5) 
and 8474(c)(1).


0
2. Amend Sec.  1650.32 by revising paragraph (b) introductory text and 
adding paragraph (b)(5) to read as follows:


Sec.  1650.32   Financial hardship withdrawals.

* * * * *
    (b) To be eligible for a financial hardship withdrawal, a 
participant must

[[Page 61806]]

have a financial need that results from at least one of the following 
five conditions:
* * * * *
    (5) The participant has incurred expenses and losses (including 
loss of income) on account of a disaster declared by the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Robert T. Stafford 
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 100-707, 
provided that the participant's principal residence or principal place 
of employment at the time of the disaster was located in an area 
designated by the FEMA for individual assistance with respect to the 
disaster.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-20762 Filed 9-30-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6760-01-P