Major Retirement Plan Changes in the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022

Nicholas L. Shires, CPA, Dannible & McKee LLP

On December 29, 2023, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which contained the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) 2.0 Act of 2022 (also known as SECURE 2.0). Included in SECURE 2.0 are dozens of retirement-related provisions that are intended to enhance provisions from the original SECURE Act of 2019. This article summarizes a few key provisions.

Expanding Automatic Enrollment in Retirement Plans

Beginning in 2025, new 401(k) plans must automatically enroll participants when they become eligible. However, the employees may opt out. The initial automatic enrollment contribution amount is at least 3% but no more than 10%. Then, the amount is automatically increased every year by 1% until it reaches 10%. All current 401(k) and 403(b) plans are grandfathered, meaning the requirement does not apply to plans established before the applicable date. There is also an exception for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, new businesses (i.e., have been in business for less than three years), church plans and governmental plans.

Increasing the Age for Required Minimum Distributions

Employer-sponsored qualified retirement plans, traditional IRAs and individual retirement annuities are subject to required minimum distribution (RMD) rules, which require that accumulated benefits begin to be distributed by the Required Beginning Date. SECURE 2.0 increases the required minimum distribution age to 73 starting on January 1, 2023, and boosts it to 75 starting on January 1, 2033. This change allows people to delay taking RMDs and paying tax on them.

The law also relaxes the penalties for failing to take full RMDs, reducing the 50% excise (or penalty) tax to 25%. If the failure is corrected in a “timely” manner, the penalty would drop to 10%.

Higher Catch-up Contributions

Defined contribution retirement plans under Code Sec. 401(k), Code Sec. 403(b) or Code Sec. 457(b) are permitted, but not required, to allow participants who are age 50 or older to make additional pre-tax elective deferrals, known as “catch-up” contributions. Catch-up contributions are elective deferrals that, among other things, are not subject to the annual elective deferral dollar limit ($22,500 for 2023). The annual dollar limit on catch-up contributions is $7,500 for 2023.

Deferrals under Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) plans are subject to a reduced annual elective deferral dollar limit ($15,500 for 2023). The annual dollar limit on catch-up contributions to SIMPLE plans is $3,500 for 2023.

Beginning January 1, 2025, individuals who are ages 60 to 63 can make catch-up contributions up to the greater of $10,000 ($5,000 for SIMPLE plans) or 50% more than the regular catch-up amount in 2024 (2025 for SIMPLE plans). The statutory dollar amounts are indexed for inflation commencing in 2026.

Eliminating Unnecessary Plan Requirements Related to Unenrolled Participants

Under both the Codes and ERISA, employees that are eligible to participate in a defined contribution plan must receive numerous intermittent notices and explanations of their rights and options under the plan, such as an explanation of available investment options. These intermittent notice requirements generally apply even where eligible employees have opted not to participate in the plan.

The Act amends the Code and ERISA to provide that defined contribution plans are exempt from intermittent notification requirements concerning eligible participants that elect not to participate, who have already received a summary plan description and any other notices related to initial eligibility to participate in the plan (unenrolled participants). Intermittent notifications include disclosures, notices and plan documents. However, an unenrolled participant must still receive: (a) an annual reminder notice of their eligibility to participate in the plan, as well as any applicable plan deadlines; and (b) any document they request that they would be entitled to receive under existing law absent this Act provision. This provision applies to plan years beginning after December 31, 2022.


SECURE 2.0 is one of the broadest pieces of retirement plan legislation in decades and will have lasting impacts on all types of retirement plans. It is important for employers to review existing retirement plan documents to ensure compliance with the above rules and other rules included in SECURE 2.0. There may be required amendments needed to bring retirement plans into compliance on the various compliance dates.

Nicholas L. Shires, CPA, is the partner-in-charge of tax services at Dannible & McKee, LLP, a public accounting firm with offices in Syracuse, Auburn, Binghamton and Schenectady, New York.  The firm has specialized in providing tax, audit, accounting and advisory services since its inception in 1978.  For more information on this topic, you may contact Nick at (315) 472-9127 or visit online at