Tag Archives: ERISA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stimulating Consumerism in Health Care By Revealing Costs

When is the last time one of your employees asked how much an in-network physician’s visit would cost?  How much does a blood test cost at the hospital to which your doctor referred you, compared to the same blood test at another facility you could use?  Why haven’t consumers who spend hours shopping for the … Continue Reading

North Carolina Court Awards $41 Thousand-Plus Penalty for Failure to Produce Documents Requested by Plan Participants

Section 104(b)(4) of ERISA provides that a plan administrator must respond to a written request for certain documents (including the plan documents and summary plan description) by a participant or beneficiary by providing the requested documents.  Section 502(c)(1) of ERISA and Regulation § 2575.502(c)-1 provide that a plan administrator who fails to do so within … Continue Reading

The Final Regulations For 401(k)/403(b) Hardship Distributions

On September 23, 2019, the Treasury Department and IRS published final regulations for hardship distributions from both 401(k) and 403(b) plans (the “Final Regulations”).  Essentially the hardship distributions changes relax the hardship distribution requirements (i.e., making it easier for participants to obtain hardship distributions) and eliminate many burdens following a hardship distribution (i.e., allowing participants … Continue Reading
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