Benefits Law Update

A blog from the attorneys of Verrill

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Elimination of Good Faith Relief for ACA Reporting

On November 22, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published proposed regulations that codify, among other things, an automatic extension of the deadline for furnishing IRS Forms 1095-C to employees. IRS Forms 1095-C are the annual information returns required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for reporting offers of...
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Nonqualified Deferred Compensation and the Special Timing Rule HR Professionals Should Be Aware of for FICA Tax Purposes

Twenty years ago this month the Enron Corporation imploded in spectacular fashion and declared bankruptcy. In the weeks leading up to its bankruptcy filing, over 100 highly compensated employees raced to receive early distributions of nonqualified deferred compensation, and were ultimately successful in removing over $50 million from the...
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403(b) Plan Compliance with the Annual Additions Limit: IRS Expects 403(b) Plan Sponsors to Collect Information About Employees’ Outside Employment

In a recent Issue Snapshot about how the annual limit on retirement plan contributions under Section 415(c) of the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) applies to 403(b) plans, the IRS revealed that it expects 403(b) plan sponsors to maintain procedures to inform employees about Section 415(c)’s special aggregation rule for...
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You Are Here: A Mall Directory for Healthcare Transparency Requirements

The old adage “you can’t get where you’re going unless you know where you are” has never seemed more true than when applied to the current mélange of healthcare transparency guidance. Fortunately, a fading relic from America’s malls may provide a helpful way to think about organizing and navigating...
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Using a Non-Compete to Create a Substantial Risk of Forfeiture Under a Section 457(f) Plan: Limited (But Meaningful) Opportunities

The Treasury Department’s proposed regulations regarding the income tax treatment of “ineligible plans” of tax-exempt employers under Code Section 457(f), published in June 2016, were greeted with much fanfare. (You can review our initial commentary on the proposed regulations here . Final regulations have not yet been published, but...
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Thoughts on the DOL’s Proposed ESG Regulation

The latest installment in the regulatory back-and-forth over the investment of ERISA-governed retirement plan assets based on environmental, social, and corporate governance (“ESG”) factors arrived on October 14, 2021 in the form of a newly proposed regulation on “ Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder...
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IRS Issues Guidance Clarifying the Application of COVID-19 Outbreak Period Extensions for Electing COBRA Continuation Coverage and Paying COBRA Premiums

On October 6, 2021, the IRS issued Notice 2021-58 , providing helpful guidance on COBRA continuation coverage in two key areas: (1) the application of the extended timeframes for electing COBRA continuation coverage and paying COBRA premiums in response to the on-going COVID-19 national emergency, and (2) the interaction...
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Self-Insured Group Health Plan Sponsors: Action Steps to Mitigate Risk Under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“MHPAEA”) provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”) introduced a requirement that group health plans and insurance providers offering both medical and surgical benefits (“M/S benefits”) and mental health and substance use disorder benefits (“MH/SUD benefits”) that impose non-quantitative treatment...
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Revenue Procedure 2021-30: A New and (Further) Improved EPCRS

The Internal Revenue Service has updated the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) in several respects that will be helpful to retirement plan sponsors. Revenue Procedure 2021-30 , published July 16, 2021, replaces the previous version ( Rev. Proc. 2019-19 ) in its entirety. Most provisions of the new...
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Retirement Plan Administrators: Are You Ready to Comply with the New Lifetime Income Disclosure Requirement for Benefit Statements?

Lifetime Income Disclosure Requirement . The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the “SECURE Act”), enacted December 20, 2019, added a new annual disclosure requirement for benefit statements to participants and beneficiaries. The new disclosure requirement applies to all ERISA-covered defined contribution plans ( e.g...
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Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation 2021 Summer Client Advisory

Click here to view as a PDF. This Client Advisory summarizes developments in the law governing employee benefit plans prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We explain what these developments mean for plan sponsors and highlight the need to adopt plan amendments within limited time periods in order to fully...
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Do you understand your Investment Policy Statement?

The Acme Rocket Sled Company Retirement Plan Administration Committee recently selected a new investment advisor for the company’s 401(k) plan. During the RFP process, the new advisor observed that the Investment Policy Statement (IPS) that the committee adopted many years ago was a bit thin and out of date...
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Massachusetts Now Requires Paid COVID-19 Leave for all Employees

Massachusetts now requires all employers, regardless of size, with Massachusetts employees to offer employees paid, job-protected leave for certain COVID-19-related reasons, including to get or recover from a COVID-19 vaccine. Massachusetts also has established a fund to reimburse employers for the cost of providing COVID-19 paid leave required by...
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Supreme Court will Hear Northwestern University 403(b) Plan Excessive Fee Case

The United States Supreme Court will weigh in on the spate of recent lawsuits filed against colleges and universities related to the schools’ retirement plans. The Court has granted a request for review from participants in two 403(b) retirement plans sponsored by Northwestern University. The participants seek to overturn...
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Primer on Severance Plans Under ERISA and the Tax Code

Many employers maintain formal or informal severance policies or practices that they use sporadically. Other employers may implement a severance program for a limited period of time to reduce the number of employees overall or within a work classification or location. All employers should be mindful that these policies...
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Faculty Retirement Incentive Programs: What Does the Law Permit?

A recent survey of full-time college and university faculty found that, as of the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year, approximately 25% of those surveyed expected to retire later than they had anticipated before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and almost 40% of those aged 50-59 expected to...
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DOL Cybersecurity Guidance

This post provides a high-level summary of the Department of Labor’s cybersecurity guidance issued in April and identifies actions retirement plan sponsors and other plan fiduciaries should consider taking now in light of the guidance and the fact that the DOL has started sending information requests under an audit...
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COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Programs: Additional Guidance and Some Comfort

Earlier today the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released guidance confirming that employers may offer incentives to employees who voluntarily obtain a COVID-19 vaccination. The guidance (available here ) appears as an update to earlier technical guidance issued by the EEOC and also offers new information regarding an...
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ARPA Premium Subsidy: Long-Awaited Details Finally Arrive

The IRS recently issued Notice 2021-31 , which provides much sought-after detail regarding the contours and operation of the temporary premium subsidy for COBRA continuation coverage available through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). As enacted on March 11, the basic mechanics of the COBRA premium subsidy...
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IRS Notice 2021-26 Clarifies Taxation of Dependent Care Assistance Programs

On May 10, 2021, the IRS issued Notice 2021-26 , which provides guidance regarding the taxation of dependent care assistance benefits provided through a Code Section 125 cafeteria plan, available in tax years ending in 2021 and 2022 due to the application of certain temporary pandemic relief provisions relating...
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Understanding Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Under ERISA: A Webinar

Employers have long understood the importance of fiduciary compliance with respect to 401(k) plans and other retirement plans subject to ERISA, and most have sound processes and governance structures in place to ensure the fulfillment of their fiduciary duties. Many employers, however, do not apply the same level of...
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Pension Plan Mortality Table Litigation – What’s Next?

The first major settlement of a lawsuit challenging the mortality assumptions used to calculate pension plan benefits was announced earlier this year. According to court filings in Cruz v. Raytheon Company , the settlement will be worth about $59.2 million to more than 10,000 retirees and surviving spouses in...
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ESG Ping-Pong®

The recent regulatory back-and-forth over the investment of ERISA-governed retirement plan assets based on environmental, social, and corporate governance (“ESG”) factors has demonstrated that ESG investing will remain under an intense spotlight for some time to come, and the rules can change quickly. As a result, investment fiduciaries should...
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Identifying Plan Assets in ERISA Health & Welfare Plans

Last month, we advised readers of this blog to consider efforts to formalize the fiduciary governance of their health and welfare benefit plans. In that post , we described some of the reasons that employers have historically paid more attention to fiduciary compliance for retirement plans than health and...
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Webinar: The Effect of COVID-19 on Employee Benefit Plans – Making Sense of the Abundance of New Legislation and Guidance

Join us on Thursday, March 18 for the next segment in the virtual series that comprises Verrill’s 2021 Employment Law Annual Update! For this segment, employee benefits attorneys Karen Hartford, Bill Jewett, and Chris Lockman will examine the various relief provided by legislation, regulatory action, and agency guidance intended...
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Order of Benefit Deductions from Employee Pay

From time to time we field questions about the order in which deductions for various employee benefits ( e.g. , 401(k) plan elective deferrals and insurance premiums for welfare benefit plan benefits) should be taken from an employee’s pay. The questions range from whether ERISA mandates a specific order...
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Partial Plan Terminations – An Update

In our April 2020 post , we detailed how employee layoffs can cause a qualified retirement plan to undergo a “partial termination,” resulting in required 100% vesting of the affected employees’ benefits. As 2020 drew to a close, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect many businesses, Congress enacted...
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