Archives: ERISA Plan Administration

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DOL Plan Audits Updated to Include Several Questions About Compliance with Its Cybersecurity Guidelines

In April, we posted about the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issuing cybersecurity guidance for employee retirement plans. That is, April 14, 2021. Shortly thereafter, the DOL updated its audit inquiries to include probing questions for plan fiduciaries about their compliance with “hot off the press” agency guidelines. So, what do … Continue Reading

Musings of Retirement Plan Fiduciaries on Cybersecurity: Episode One

By now, plan fiduciaries and their service providers likely have heard about the DOL’s cybersecurity guidance. The Department of Labor’s stepping into cybersecurity in this way – a posting of best practices on the agency’s website – has left plan fiduciaries with some questions. Here are a few: “When is this effective?” “Does this apply … Continue Reading

Happy National Employee Benefits Day, April 6, 2021!

You didn’t know it was a thing?  Or maybe, like most, you just lost track of what day it is?  Or maybe it ranks somewhere behind New Beer’s Eve (the day before the end of prohibition) and National Tartan Day, both of which are most certainly things and also fall on April 6th. If there … Continue Reading

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 generally provides the annual funding for the federal government and also contains several important rules giving further COVID-19 relief. The comprehensive relief package funds certain hard-hit industries, expands eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and extends and expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The Act also relaxes several normally … Continue Reading

Personal Data from Thousands of Pension Plan Accounts Breached…Third-Party Service Provider Blamed

One of the last things pension plan participants would want to learn as they get ready to celebrate the Christmas holiday is that personal data from their pension accounts may have been compromised. This is the case, unfortunately, for approximately 30,000 Now:Pensions customers whose names, postal and email addresses, birth dates and the equivalent of … Continue Reading

The IRS Released the Final Regulations for Plan Loan Offset Rollovers

The IRS released final regulations on the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) that added Section 402(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, effective January 1, 2018, special rollover relief for qualified plan loan offset (“QPLO”) amounts. As per our initial blog on the TCJA change, distributing a plan loan offset occurs under … Continue Reading

DOL Guidance on ESG Investing by Retirement Plans: Investment Committees Should Handle with Care

The United States Department of Labor (the “DOL”) recently issued a proposed rule on the fiduciary requirements under the federal pension law, ERISA, that apply to the selection and monitoring of environmental, social, and corporate governance (“ESG”) investments in retirement plans.  Under the proposed rule, which would be effective 60 days after it becomes finalized, … Continue Reading

Eighth Circuit Affirms in Part, Reverses in Part University’s Early Win in ERISA Fee Suit

As the circuit courts continue to define the pleading standards for fiduciary breach claims challenging investments in defined contribution plans, the Eighth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a district court’s finding that a group of 403(b) plan participants failed to state such a claim.  In Davis v Washington University, plaintiffs alleged that … Continue Reading

Expanding the Safe Harbor for (Certain) Electronic Disclosures

We previously wrote about the Department of Labor’s proposed expansion of its safe harbor for electronic delivery of certain retirement plan disclosures required under ERISA.  The wait is finally over, with publication of the final rule (the “New Rule”) helped along by the DOL’s desire to alleviate some of the “disclosure-related problems being reported by … Continue Reading

Critical Qualified Plan Fiduciary Issues For Employers To Consider In Light Of Covid-19

With the business disruptions and market turbulence being wrought by COVID-19, many employers sponsoring qualified retirement plans are facing key decisions about their 401(k), profit sharing, defined benefit, and cash balance plans.  From considering potential cost-savings measures such as suspending safe harbor contributions to a 401(k) plan and/or discretionary contributions to a profit sharing plan, … Continue Reading

March 31st Deadline for 403(b) Plan Sponsors

March 31st Deadline for 403(b) Plan Sponsors If your organization sponsors a 403(b) plan for employees and has not adopted an up-to-date written plan document that complies with the applicable regulations, you have until March 31, 2020 to do so.  Failure to do could cause substantial negative tax consequences for employees (and the organization) or … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court Defines Actual Knowledge

In a closely watched decision, Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, Slip Op. No. 18-1116 (U.S. S. Ct., Feb. 26, 2020), construing ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations, see ERISA § 413(2), 29 U.S.C. § 1113(2), the Supreme Court held unanimously (J. Alito) that “actual knowledge” means “. . . when a plaintiff actually is … Continue Reading

Northrop Grumman Agrees to Settle 401(k) Excessive Fee Suit

Northrop Grumman has agreed to pay $12,375,000 to settle a class action brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) by participants in its 401(k) plan. The parties reached the initial terms of this settlement last year minutes before the start of the trial. The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that the company’s administration … Continue Reading

2nd Circuit Pension Liability Ruling Is A Big Win For Employers

As published by Law360 (January 13, 2020, 5:43 PM EST) — Following oral arguments that were held in February 2018, in a long-anticipated decision in the National Retirement Fund v. Metz Culinary Management Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a multiemployer pension fund’s use of a lower interest rate that was … Continue Reading

Judicial Trend Away from Recognizing Equitable Remedies for Benefit Claims under ERISA.

A court in Florida has declined to expand the remedies available under a claim for benefits due under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B) of ERISA. Keys v. Bell, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195505 (M.D. Fla. 2019). The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim for “equitable estoppel by silence” under that provision of ERISA’s civil remedies. This supports … Continue Reading

DOL Proposed NEW Electronic Disclosures Rule

Employers frustrated with the cumbersome rules and added expenses for furnishing plan documents, summary plan descriptions, notices, and certain other communications may soon get some added relief, at least with respect to their retirement plans. In response to President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order 13847, Strengthening Retirement Security in America, the U.S. Department of Labor … Continue Reading

COBRA Notice Litigation Resulting in Big Dollar Claims

Can you imagine something as simple as a COBRA Notice missing a few technical requirements resulting in an employer needing to pay a 6 or 7-digit damages award?  That is happening in Florida.  Employers in and out of Florida should pay attention to this news, as what doesn’t start in California often starts in Florida. … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Joins Majority in Rejecting “De Facto Administrator” ERISA Theory

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit joins the Second, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits in declining to impose liability on alleged de facto plan administrators.  Under Section 502(c) of ERISA, a plan administrator may be liable and subject to penalties for failing to comply with a participant’s request for information which … Continue Reading

A Deadline is a Bright Line: How Fessenden Narrows “Substantial Compliance” in the Seventh Circuit

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the deadline imposed under ERISA for plan administrators to decide on benefit claims is a “bright line” rule. The court held that when a plan administrator misses this deadline, the “substantial compliance” exception to statutory compliance does not apply and the plan … Continue Reading

EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK REFUSES TO ENFORCE AN ERISA ANTI-ASSIGNMENT PROVISION

The list of the federal courts of appeals enforcing unambiguous anti-assignment provisions in ERISA health benefit plans continues to grow:  almost exactly one year ago, the Third Circuit joined its sister circuits in holding “that anti-assignment clauses in ERISA-governed health insurance plans as a general matter are enforceable.” As the Third Circuit opinion noted, every … Continue Reading

EIGHTH CIRCUIT RULES AGAINST THIRD PARTY ADMINISTRATOR IN CROSS-PLAN OFFSETTING IN GROUP HEALTH PLANS

 On January 15, 2019, the federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc., 913 F.3d, 769 (8th Cir. 2019), in which the Court upheld the federal district court’s holding that UnitedHealth Group, Inc. (“United”) was not authorized to reduce (or “offset”) payments to medical providers under ERISA group … Continue Reading

Court Rules that One-Time Voluntary Separation Program is Not an ERISA Plan

Whether a one-time voluntary separation program should be treated as an ERISA-covered severance plan depends on whether the program requires an “ongoing administrative scheme” – a requirement first established by the Supreme Court in Fort Halifax Packing Co. v. Coyne, 482 U.S. 1 (1987). In Fort Halifax, the Supreme Court held that ERISA does not … Continue Reading
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