Archives: ERISA

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Guidance to Make Us Feel More SECURE

Notice 2020-68 from the IRS provides valuable clarification for sponsors of qualified plans, 403(b) plans, and 457(b) governmental plans, as well as IRA holders, related to certain provisions in the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act) and the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019. A new tax credit under the … Continue Reading

Don’t Miss Out: Deadlines are Upon Us

Deadlines are a large part of employee benefit plan administration.  The past 12 – 18 months have contributed to potential confusion about standard deadlines and added new deadlines plan administrators will not want to overlook.  During this period, the IRS created a one-time window deadline, published extensions for some plans’ deadlines, and other deadlines were … 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

Is Personal Information of Retirement Plan Participants an ERISA Plan Asset?

A little more than one year ago, we reported on a settlement (Cassell et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al.) involving the alleged wrongful use of personal information belonging to retirement plan participants, claimed to be “plan assets.” This year, similar claims have been made against Shell Oil Company in connection with its 401(k) plan. Retirement … Continue Reading

IRS Expands and Clarifies CARES Act Distribution Rules

Since March 27, 2020 when the CARES Act was signed into law, many questions have mounted related to implementing the retirement plan provisions.  Now, with roughly 3 months under our belts since the issuance of the Act and countless CARES Act distributions and loan suspensions processed, the IRS clarified several eligibility, administrative, and taxation reporting … 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

IRS Provides Relief for Retirement Plan Elections and Consents Required to be Notarized or Witnessed

The Internal Revenue Service has relaxed spousal notarization and plan representative witness requirements in 2020 for retirement plan elections in IRS Notice 2020-42. The notice addresses the physical presence requirement for notarization or witnessing of certain plan elections and provides temporary relief permitting remote notarization and witnessing subject to certain requirements. For the period from … Continue Reading

Supreme Court: Plaintiffs Who Suffered No Injury Lack Standing to Sue under ERISA

The plaintiffs’ expectations surely suffered a blow after reading the Supreme Court’s initial observation in their case: “If [the plaintiffs] were to lose this lawsuit, they would still receive the exact same monthly benefits that they are already slated to receive, not a penny less. If [the plaintiffs] were to win this lawsuit, they would still receive the exact … 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

COBRA Compliance Through a COVID-19 Lens

Over the last few weeks, we have seen significant changes affecting COBRA compliance. Employers should contact their COBRA administrators to discuss the best practices in light of these developments, which include the Department of Labor’s publication of new model COBRA notices and COVID-19 notice and premium payment extensions.  We have a helpful article that discusses … Continue Reading

COVID-19 And Late Remittances of Employee Deferrals to 401(k) Plans

Many employers facing economic challenges because of COVID-19 have considered several possibilities for reducing their contributions to their 401(k) plans.  Whether freezing safe harbor matching or nonelective contributions or deciding against making discretionary matching and/or profit-sharing contributions, the goal has been the same: reduce their employee benefits costs. What many employers have not focused on … Continue Reading

New Model COBRA Notices and Emergency Extensions to COBRA Deadlines Require Employers to Take Action

The Department of Labor (DOL) and other federal regulators released updates and clarifications related to employee benefits, including updates to model COBRA notices and an extension of certain statutory deadlines intended to minimize the possibility of participants and beneficiaries losing benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article highlights the DOL’s recent changes and updates relating … Continue Reading

Will New Stimulus Bill Include Multiemployer Pension Reform?

What could be in the next stimulus bill in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Congress reportedly is working on a bill (dubbed “Stimulus 3.5”) that includes additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program created by the CARES Act.  Will the new stimulus bill address long-awaited reforms to the multiemployer pension plan system? The imminent collapse … 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

Eighth Circuit Rules on ERISA’s “Church Plan” Exemption

Background On March 27, 2020, the Eighth Circuit in Sanzone v. Mercy Health, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 9537 (8th Cir. March 27, 2020), ruled on several key issues on the “church plan” exemption to ERISA.  As background, beginning in 2013, plaintiff’s counsel filed ERISA class-action cases across the country challenging the application of ERISA’s “church … Continue Reading

Special COVID-19 Health Insurance Enrollment Windows and Waivers

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are observing all sorts of never-before-seen changes in the fully-insured group health plan space.  Many insurers are liberally waiving their normal rules to accommodate the continuation of coverage to employers and employees in their time of need.  Although the accommodations are welcome, employers need to exercise … Continue Reading

CalSavers Not Preempted by ERISA

With an alarming number of American workers lacking adequate retirement savings, California and a handful of other states began implementing state-sponsored retirement savings programs.  The CalSavers Retirement Savings Program (CalSavers) was first launched as a pilot program in 2018 and then expanded to all eligible employers in the state in July 2019 in order to … Continue Reading

The IRS Addresses Expenses Related to COVID-19

Like many other areas, employers are grappling with issues in response to the pandemic growth of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (aka, “COVID-19”) in the workplace.  One newer topic has been related to the desire to ensure employees and their families are proactively being diagnosed once symptoms present, to ensure proper care management for the employee … 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

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

The SECURE Act, at Last

On December 19, 2019, the Senate passed, as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020 (Public Law No. 116-94), the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act (Division O pg. H.R. 1865-604).  It is touted as the most significant retirement act since the Pension Protection Act of 2006.  President Trump signed the … Continue Reading

Employers in Union-Related Group Health Plans Must Still Comply with ACA Reporting Requirements

Employers who provide health benefits to their union workforce through a multiemployer group health plan must satisfy all the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements regarding their union employees… More… Continue Reading

Building and Construction Industry Exemption from Withdrawal Liability

Since its passage late in 1980, the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act (MPPAA) has proven to be a hindrance to the profitable operations of employers that contribute to multiemployer pension funds by imposing a surprise, and often expensive, obligation (the “withdrawal liability”) on employers across many industries. However, the construction industry is one of a … Continue Reading

PBGC Approves Revisions to AAA’s Withdrawal Liability Arbitration Rules; Employer Fees Reduced

For years, steep arbitration fees have made many employers think twice about contesting a questionable withdrawal liability determination. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s (PBGC) approval of a lower fee schedule may ease that hurdle. ERISA, as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendment Act of 1980 (MPPAA), requires all disputes between an employer and a … Continue Reading
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