Benefits Law Update

A blog from the attorneys of Verrill

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Category: Retirement Plans

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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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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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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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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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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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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Controlled Group Rules for Tax Exempt Organizations: A Brief Review

Corporate entities under common control are generally treated as a single employer for purposes of applying the core rules that govern employee benefit plans and executive compensation arrangements. For that reason, a complete and accurate controlled group analysis can be critical in determining and monitoring the legal compliance status...
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Budget Agreement Contains Changes to 401(k) Plan Hardship Distribution Rules

The budget agreement approved by Congress and signed into law on February 9, 2018 includes several changes to the rules governing hardship distributions from 401(k) plans. These changes — which were included in the House version of the tax reform bill, but removed during the reconciliation process — may...
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Noteworthy Federal Cases Relating to Employee Benefit Plans in 2017

Here is a round up of cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and the First and Second Circuit Courts of Appeals in 2017 involving ERISA employee benefit plans. While courts decided a number of cases pertinent to benefit plans, we found these to be noteworthy: United States Supreme...
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Practical Guidance for Required Minimum Distributions and Missing Participants

Retirement plan administrators often run into this problem: a participant has reached his or her required beginning date – the date on which distributions must commence under the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules of Code Section 401(a)(9) – and the participant cannot be located. A recent IRS Field Memorandum...
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PODCAST: Ins & Outs of Socially Responsible Investing for Retirement Plans

Verrill Dana employee benefits attorneys Eric Altholz and Chris Lockman discuss the inclusion of socially conscious/socially responsible investment options in 401(k) and 403(b) plans in their latest podcast for Verrill Voices. The podcast explores Department of Labor guidance regarding this category of investments, identified by the DOL as Economically...
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PODCAST: 403(b) Plan Fee Litigation Update

Verrill Dana Employee Benefits attorneys Eric Altholz and Chris Lockman provide a brief update on class action lawsuits alleging various breaches of fiduciary duties under ERISA pending against a dozen major universities. All of these lawsuits are related to the administration of the 403(b) plans maintained by the universities...
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Restating Your Preapproved Plan Document: Opportunities and Pitfalls

Purveyors of preapproved defined contribution plan documents are now in the process of distributing document restatement packages to employers. The restated documents reflect updates required by changes in law, including the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which previously had been reflected in a series of addenda and amendments to...
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2015 Mid-Year Client Advisory

At this time of year many employers finalize welfare plan designs for 2016 and gear up for open enrollment. And this summer, many employers are in the process of reviewing updated pre-approved defined contribution plan documents provided by their record keeping firms. With those efforts in mind, this Client...
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EPCRS Revisions: The Second Act

For the second time in under a week the Internal Revenue Service released a series of updates to its most recent restatement of the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS). Revenue Procedure 2015-28 modifies EPCRS by outlining new safe harbor correction methods for plans with automatic contribution features and...
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IRS Clarifies the Correction of Overpayments under EPCRS

The IRS has clarified the correction of certain retirement plan operational failures under its Employer Plan Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) and expanded certain elements of the program in ways that are helpful to retirement plan sponsors. The clarifications, contained in Rev. Proc. 2015-27 , address what the IRS believes...
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When a “Termination” is Not a Termination

Employers grapple with the employee benefits consequences of employment terminations in a variety of contexts. In the retirement plan context when a vested participant's employment ends the most significant consequence typically will be the participant's right to receive a benefit distribution. In most cases – where there is a...
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2014 Year-End Employee Benefit Plans Compliance Advisory

The 2014 end-of-year rush seems somewhat less frantic than in years past. Nevertheless, with a month left in the year many employers may find themselves scrambling to meet plan amendment and notice deadlines, and planning for 2015 may still be in process for some. This summary discusses a few...
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2014 Mid-Year Compliance Update

While 2014 has been a relatively quiet year in terms of new rules affecting retirement plans, the January 1, 2015 effective date for the Affordable Care Act employer shared responsibility mandate is now in sight. This summary discusses a few key developments regarding employee benefit plans – especially group...
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Thirty Years of Church Plan Rulings Challenged

Within the past five months, two federal District Court judges have cast doubt on the validity of IRS letter rulings (and similar DOL opinion letters) issued to church-affiliated employers dating back to 1983. These federal judges – one in California and one in New Jersey – concluded that the...
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2013 Year End Benefit Plan Compliance Update and Reminders for Employers

As 2013 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2014, there is no shortage of benefit plan administrative challenges with which employers must contend. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 ("ACA") remains very much at the forefront of these challenges, retirement plan and...
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