Archives: ERISA

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DOL Issues Cybersecurity Best Practices for ERISA Covered Retirement Plans

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued much anticipated cybersecurity guidance for employee retirement plans. This comes more than four and a half years after the ERISA Advisory Council, a 15-member body appointed by the Secretary of Labor to provide guidance on employee benefit plans, shared with the federal Department of … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit: ERISA Does Not Bar Forum Selection Clauses

Aligning itself with other circuit courts that have ruled on the issue, the Ninth Circuit recently held that ERISA does not bar forum selection clauses in benefit plans.  The background of the case and the Ninth Circuit’s ruling are straightforward.  Plaintiff filed a putative class action in the Northern District of California challenging the management … Continue Reading

Second Circuit: Investment Advisor Not Covered by Plaintiff’s Employment Arbitration Agreement

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently concluded that investment advisor Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb must face a proposed class action under ERISA Section 502(a)(2) for breach of fiduciary duty relating to its alleged mismanagement of a profit-sharing plan sponsored by DST Systems, Inc.  Cooper v. Ruane Cunniff & Goldfarb Inc., No. … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Deadline Extensions—No More Time Outs but No Single Deadline Either!!

We recently provided an update on the looming end date for COBRA and other deadline extensions and the uncertainty that continues to add to the administrative burdens without more clarity from the DOL and IRS.  Message received, apparently. On behalf of the IRS, the DOL has now released Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 that attempts to … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Deadline Extensions—Still Relevant to Plan Sponsors?

In May of 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released joint-agency guidance that extended several important deadlines for employees, including COBRA election and payment deadlines, HIPAA Special Enrollment deadlines, and claims submission and appeal deadlines.  Under the guidance, plan administrators were required to extend the deadlines that would otherwise apply … 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

U.S. Supreme Court: State Law Regulating Pharmacy Benefit Managers is Not Preempted by ERISA

An Arkansas law regulating pharmacy benefit managers’ (PBMs) generic drug reimbursement rates, and affecting the cost of prescription drugs provided under ERISA-governed benefit plans and the administration of those plans, is not preempted by ERISA, the U.S. Supreme Court has held unanimously. Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No. 18-540, 2020 U.S. LEXIS 5988 (Dec. 10, … Continue Reading

Manufacturers and Multiemployer Pensions — The Importance of Monitoring Withdrawal Liability

Approximately a quarter of the workforce covered by a traditional pension plan is in a multiemployer plan, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many manufacturers that participate in such plans are unaware their largest contingent liability may stem from their allocable share of unfunded vested benefits or withdrawal liability.  More info…… Continue Reading

2021 Cost of Living Adjustments for Retirement Plans

The Internal Revenue Service recently announced its cost-of-living adjustments applicable to dollar limitations on benefits and contributions for retirement plans generally effective for Tax Year 2021 (see IRS Notice 2020-79). Most notably, many of the retirement plan limitations, including the limitation on annual salary deferrals into a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, remain unchanged. The more … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear the First of Several ERISA Disputes This Term

The Supreme Court, whose new term begins today, the first Monday in October, will consider a number of cases impacting employee benefits and benefits litigation.  This is the first in a series analyzing these cases as they are heard by the Court.  The first issue up concerns prescription drug benefit regulation, and later in the … Continue Reading

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
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