Benefits Law Update

A blog from the attorneys of Verrill

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DOL Proposes New Electronic Disclosure Rules for Retirement Plans

At long last, the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued an update to its safe harbor rules governing electronic distributions of retirement plan disclosures. When finalized and adopted, the new safe harbor rules will update guidance that has been in place since 2002. The new rules do not apply...
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403(b) Plans Must Comply with the “Once In, Always In” Rule This Year

Tax-exempt employers whose 403(b) plans have failed to comply with the "once in, always in" eligibility rule in the past should be well on their way to compliance by now. IRS Notice 2018-95 granted limited relief from this common administrative failure. The grace period for non-compliance has ended for...
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Plan Sponsors: You Should Have a Model QDRO

ERISA Section 206(d)(3)(G)(ii) requires sponsors of qualified retirement plans to maintain written procedures for the administration of qualified domestic relations orders ("QDROs"), and the plan administrator has an obligation to ensure that a domestic relations order received by the plan is "qualified" before making the payments or taking other...
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Who is a Highly Compensated Employee?

Identifying an employer's highly compensated employees is crucial to the administration of qualified retirement plans, as well as 403(b) plans that provide employer contributions. This post provides an overview of the rules for determining who is a highly compensated employee. The dollar amount used in this post is the...
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Recap of Change to Retirement Plan Rollover Rules for Plan Loan Offsets

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ("2017 Tax Act") includes a provision that changed the rollover rules for certain plan loan offset distributions and that may not be well known to retirement plan sponsors and participants. Money purchase, profit sharing, 401(k) and 403(b) plans may make loans...
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Revenue Procedure 2019-19: Enhancements to EPCRS are Great News for Plan Sponsors

Newly published Revenue Procedure 2019-19 modifies and supersedes prior IRS guidance regarding the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) to allow plan sponsors to self-correct an expanded number of problems that may affect retirement plan operations or documents. The new guidance, which took effect April 19, 2019, provides a...
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Handling Missing Participants under Code Section 409A

Deferred compensation payments are due to one of your former executives, but the former executive is nowhere to be found. You know that the IRS has strict timing rules for payments subject to Code Section 409A (but maybe not as strict as you think ). The end of the...
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Form 1094 and Form 1095 Reporting for Expatriate Employees

Every IRS Form 1094/1095 filing season (roughly January and February of each year), we receive questions on reporting for expatriate employees. The most common questions: do we need to furnish a Form to expat employees working in the U.S. (sometimes called "inpats") who are covered under a regular or...
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IRS Guidance Regarding the Section 4960 Excise Tax Is (Somewhat) Helpful

IRS Notice 2019-09 provides guidance intended to help "applicable tax-exempt employers" determine whether compensation paid to their most highly compensated employees will be subject to the 21 percent excise tax imposed under Code Section 4960. Notice 2019-09 is indeed helpful to those of us who have to interpret the...
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ERISA Preemption of State Slayer Statutes: Does it Matter?

Over the last decade, courts around the country have been asked to decide whether ERISA preempts state slayer statutes – state laws that prohibit a murderer from collecting benefits as the beneficiary of the victim's estate or as the surviving spouse of the victim under an insurance policy or...
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December 2018 Client Advisory

This Client Advisory, originally distributed in December 2018, highlights important developments in the law governing employee benefit plans and executive compensation over the past year. It offers insight into what these developments mean for employers and plan sponsors and previews developments we expect to see in 2019. The following...
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Proposed Regulations on 401(k) Hardship Withdrawals

Last month, the Treasury Department issued highly anticipated proposed regulations governing hardship withdrawals from 401(k) plans. The proposed regulations address recent statutory changes made to the hardship withdrawal rules under Code Section 401(k), including: permitting the withdrawal of earnings on elective deferrals in the event of a hardship; permitting...
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Join Us for Managing 401(k) Plan Fiduciary Risk on 11/8

In today's ever-changing and challenging 401(k) environment, plan sponsors find themselves in a new and seemingly complex environment. Regulations are becoming increasingly complicated, the number of class action lawsuits continues to rise, and employees insist on access to less expensive options with better performance, without understanding what the fees...
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FMLA, Disability, & Sick Leave Management: A Panel Discussion

Join the Maine Employee Benefits Council (MEBC) on Wednesday, October 17 for a panel discussion on the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), disability, and sick leave management. Panelists will discuss federal and state specific paid leave laws, examine the requirements for Maine employers who have employees in the particular...
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New Tax Credit for Paid Leave – Part 2: IRS Issues Helpful Guidance

As expected, the IRS recently issued additional guidance concerning the new paid leave tax credit codified as Code Section 45S. (You can read Part 1 of this series here .) The guidance, set forth in IRS Notice 2018-17 , is presented in the form of 34 questions and answers...
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IRS issues updated 402(f) rollover distribution notices

The IRS has issued new model notices for recipients of rollover distributions from qualified retirement plans. The updated notices reflect changes from the 2017 tax reform act, as well as regulatory changes enacted since previous versions of the notices were published. The model notices provide a safe harbor for...
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New Tax Credit for Paid Leave: What Benefits Professionals Should Know

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contains a two-year pilot project, developed by Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Deb Fischer (R-NE), that provides a tax credit to employers that offer at least two weeks of paid leave to low and moderate income employees. If your company already offers...
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Stronger Than Its Weakest Links: NYU Survives 403(b) Fee Lawsuit

In the first University 403(b) plan fee case to proceed to trial, Sacerdote v. New York University (No. 16-cv-6284 (KBF) (S.D.N.Y. July 31, 2018), the Court found that plaintiffs were unsuccessful in proving that the NYU Retirement Plan Committee breached its fiduciary duties by failing to reduce high recordkeeping...
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New Disability Claims Procedures Affect Retirement Plans and Deferred Compensation Plans Too

Much has been written about the Department of Labor's final rule regarding disability benefit claims procedures (the "Final Rule"), which took effect on April 2, 2018. And by now, most employers – and all disability insurance carriers – have taken steps to implement changes in disability plan administrative procedures...
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Voluntary Compliance with ERISA Does Not Preclude Church Plan Status

The IRS has once again confirmed that an employee benefit plan maintained by a church or church-affiliated organization is not subject to ERISA unless the plan sponsor makes an affirmative written election to have ERISA apply to the plan. That is the case even if the plan historically has...
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401(k) Plan Sponsors – Time to Revisit Your Hardship Withdrawal Provisions

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 ("Budget Act") includes several changes to the rules governing hardship withdrawals from 401(k) plans. Because the changes apply to plan years beginning after December 31, 2018, 401(k) plan sponsors should start considering their options now and make decisions regarding which changes, if any...
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IRS Appears Likely to Expand Determination Letter Program in 2019

All signs point to the IRS expanding access to the determination letter ("DL") program for individually designed plans in 2019. This would be a welcome move for employers and other plan sponsors, who have been unable to obtain determination letters with respect to most ongoing plans since the DL...
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Near Unanimity Among the Circuits: Anti-Assignment Provisions are Enforceable

U.S. Courts of Appeals in all but four Circuits have now held that anti-assignment provisions in health insurance plans governed by ERISA are enforceable. In American Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine v. Independence Blue Cross Blue Shield , No. 17-1663, 2018 WL 2224394 (3d Cir. May 16, 2018) the Third...
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Socially Responsible Investing and the Plan Fiduciary

In the wake of mass shootings, environmental disasters, industrial accidents, drug and tobacco use pandemics, and other tragedies, retirement plan investors are paying more attention to selecting or rejecting investments based on perceived public policy benefits or detriment. For example, investors are more focused than ever on the larger...
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Wellness Programs: Where are we now?

Wellness programs are governed by overlapping and, at times, maddeningly inconsistent regulations and agency guidance. Litigation challenging the wellness program rules issued by the EEOC in 2016 has added another layer of complexity for employers attempting to design and administer wellness programs in compliance with applicable law. Nevertheless, wellness...
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Lisa S. Boehm Named Employee Benefits Lawyer of the Year

Lisa S. Boehm , a Partner in Verrill Dana's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group , has been named 2018 Portland, Maine Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers® . This is the second time that Ms. Boehm has been named "Lawyer of the Year,"...
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