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Butch Lewis Brings No Good News for Contributing Employers

In the clamor that surrounded the current administration’s adoption of the American Rescue Act of 2021 (ARPA), quietly tucked in as Subtitle H is the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (Butch Lewis). Butch Lewis has been unsuccessfully bouncing around Congress since 2019. While Butch Lewis is long on rhetoric, at this … Continue Reading

Multiemployer Pension Plan Reform/Bailout May Be Greater Than Expected; Guidance Still Forthcoming

The Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (EPPRA), enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), contained unprecedented financial relief for the most troubled multiemployer pension plans (MEPPs). The MEPPs community is eagerly awaiting guidance from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) on the requirements for MEPPs to apply for the special … Continue Reading

New Mandatory Retirement Plan Requirement for Certain New York City Employers

On May 11, 2021, the City Council of New York enacted a local law to establish a retirement savings program for certain employees of private entities. What are the Details? The new law creates a mandatory auto-enrollment payroll deduction individual retirement account (“IRA”) program for employees of private sector employers in New York City which … 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

Will American Rescue Plan Act Multiemployer Pension Provisions Bring Relief to Employers?

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes a modified version of the Butch Lewis Act, referred to as the Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (EPPRA), which restores to financial health more than 100 failing multiemployer pension plans. However, the measure falls well short of any meaningful long-term funding reform.  More… Continue Reading

American Rescue Plan Act Extensions, Changes to Select Tax Credit, Compensation Deduction Provisions

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 expands upon some popular tax credit provisions and makes other changes to a key tax provision regarding compensation deduction limitations. These changes are summarized below.   More… Continue Reading

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: COBRA Subsidy, Pension Funding, and Other Employee Benefit Changes

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) is the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill, which the President signed into law on Thursday, March 11, 2021. ARPA includes new COBRA continuation coverage election, notice, and subsidy requirements; pension plan funding relief; and some cost-saving benefit opportunities employees may be able to leverage.  Some of these … Continue Reading

Is Relief for the Plight of Multiemployer Pension Plans in the Works?

I – Overview of the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act The much-heralded Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (the “Butch Lewis Act of 2021”) is closer to becoming a reality as part of the COVID-19 relief bill, which is set for a vote in the House of Representatives on February … 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

U.S. Supreme Court to Take on Affordable Care Act … Again

This term, the U.S. Supreme Court returns to a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the consolidated cases of California v. Texas (No. 19-840) and Texas v. California (No. 19-1019), the Court will consider whether a group of states and private individuals have standing to challenge the ACA. If that procedural hurdle is cleared, the Court … 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 Provides Further COVID-19 Relief Related to Postponed Deadlines for Time Sensitive Actions

On May 28, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an advanced version of Notice 2020-35, which amplifies the relief it had previously provided from deadlines for certain time-sensitive actions.  The relief offered by Notice 2020-35 is provided because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and is in addition to the relief provided by Notice 2020-18, … Continue Reading

PPP Loan Forgiveness: Some Answers, Many Questions

Much has happened in the three-plus weeks since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act was enacted on March 27, 2020.  The $349 billion dollars appropriated to the newly created Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been exhausted.  The Small Business Administration (SBA), the Federal agency administering the PPP, reports they have made over … 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

Do Employers Count Employees of Foreign Affiliates When Determining Eligibility Under the Paycheck Protection Program?

Applicants in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Business Loan Programs (which include the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)) are generally subject to the affiliation rule in 13 CFR Section 121.301, subject to certain statutory waivers.  These rules provide that in determining a concern’s size, the SBA counts the employees of both the concern whose size is … Continue Reading

The CARES Act Effect on Retirement Plans

On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act.  The Act largely stabilizes fragile industries, provides loans and tax credits to businesses tied to their retaining their workforces during these uncertain times, and offers additional unemployment relief to employees hurt by COVID-19.  But the CARES Act … Continue Reading

The IRS Extends Looming Restatement Deadlines

The IRS announced on March 27th via its website the extension of the initial remedial amendment period for Section 403(b) plans from March 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020.   It also extended the deadline for the second six-year remedial amendment cycle for pre-approved defined benefit plans from April 30, 2020, to July 31, 2020. 403(b) … 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

Employee Benefits Issues to Consider Before Deciding to Furlough or Terminate Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the combination of our nation’s response to COVID-19 and the resultant economic downturn, employers of all sizes face the moral and financial dilemma of evaluating employee headcounts while businesses are grappling with the reality of the current situation.  Many employers are considering furloughs, or other types of approved leaves of absences, to reduce immediate … 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

Implications of COVID-19 on Your Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

Employers are grappling with employee benefit issues in response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”).  Efforts are being made to pave the way for widespread testing by eliminating cost barriers such as deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, or High Deductible Health Plan restrictions to ensure employees and their families are proactively being diagnosed once symptoms present, to … 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

Republicans Propose Wholesale Reform of Multiemployer Pension Plan System

In a white paper and technical explanations, Republican Senators Charles E. Grassley (Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance) and Lamar Alexander (Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) have proposed reforms to the multiemployer pension plan system. If implemented, the proposed reforms (not yet introduced as a bill) would represent … 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
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