Benefits Law Update

A blog from the attorneys of Verrill

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Fifth Circuit Vacates DOL Conflict of Interest Fiduciary Rule

The Fifth Circuit vacated the Department of Labor's long-suffering conflict of interest rule (commonly referred to as the "fiduciary rule"), holding that the rule exceeds the scope of DOL's regulatory authority. The decision means that the expanded definition of fiduciary, the elevated standards of conduct for certain investment advisors...
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IRS Reduces 2018 HSA Family Contribution Limit

UPDATE: On April 26, 2018, the IRS reversed course and restored the limit on deductible contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) for individuals with family coverage under a high deductible health plan to $6,900, the original amount announced last fall. According to the IRS , individuals who received an...
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Time is Running Out – New Disability Claims Procedures Take Effect April 2, 2018

It has been a long time coming, but the Department of Labor's final rule regarding disability benefit claims procedures (the "Final Rule") will finally take effect on April 2, 2018. Employers need to determine which of their ERISA plans will be subject to the Final Rule and implement the...
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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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How can a tax-exempt employer manage the new excise tax on executive compensation?

The executive compensation provisions of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act have been widely reported, and public companies and tax-exempt employers are now thinking about how to adjust to the new statutory changes. Tax-exempt employers face the startling new reality of a 21% excise tax on "remuneration" exceeding $1,000,000...
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Tax Reform: A Brief Overview of the Final Legislation

Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on December 20, 2017, and President Trump signed the bill into law on December 22nd. As everyone knows by now, the new law makes sweeping changes affecting most areas of income taxation. And while the final legislation contained fewer provisions affecting...
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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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Dismissal of Case Against UPenn Good News for 403(b) Plan Sponsors

Colleges and universities have finally received some encouraging news in the recent spate of class action suits against higher education 403(b) plans. Last week a federal judge dismissed all claims against the University of Pennsylvania, marking the first time that one of these recent law suits has been be...
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Supreme Court’s Church Plan Decision Restores Order (But It May Not End the Litigation)

Earlier this week, in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned decisions by three federal Circuit Courts of Appeals and held that an employee benefit plan maintained by a church-controlled or church-affiliated organization can qualify as a "church plan" exempt from ERISA regardless of who establishes the plan...
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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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Eric Altholz Named Employee Benefits Lawyer of the Year

Eric Altholz , Vice Chair of Verrill Dana's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group , has been named 2017 Portland, Maine Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers®. Eric is the latest member of the group to be recognized as Lawyer of the Year in...
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EEOC Doubles Down: Final Wellness Program Rules Under ADA and GINA – Part II

Last week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued final rules for wellness programs under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (the " Final ADA Rule ") and the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) (the " Final GINA Rule "). Part I of this two-part series addressed...
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EEOC Doubles Down: Final Wellness Program Rules Under ADA and GINA – Part I

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued final rules for wellness programs under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (the " Final ADA Rule ") and the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) (the " Final GINA Rule "). The release is accompanied by Frequently Asked Questions...
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Avoiding a Patchwork of Pitfalls: Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

In the first decision issued since the passing of Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court of the United States held that ERISA preempts a Vermont statute requiring third party administrators of self-insured group health plans to report claims information to state health care databases. Gobeille v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co...
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IRS Issues Guidance on Employer Health Plan Opt-Out Payment Arrangements

Late last month the IRS released, in the form of 26 Q/As in Notice 2015-87 , guidance on the application of various provisions of the Affordable Care Act to employer-sponsored health coverage. The Notice covers a number of important issues, including the effect of health reimbursement account contributions, cafeteria...
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Client Advisory - Winter 2016

This Client Advisory highlights certain developments regarding the Affordable Care Act (most significantly, the delay of the ACA reporting requirements and the "Cadillac" tax), discusses the EEOC's proposed rules for wellness programs and the outcome of recent EEOC wellness program litigation, reviews important cases recently decided by and pending...
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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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Where There’s Smoke There’s Questions: Designing Compliant Wellness Programs That Target Tobacco Use

The final regulations concerning wellness programs under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended (HIPAA) continue to generate a number of questions and concerns for employers whose programs seek to promote employee health by curbing tobacco use. The compliance status of some programs is further complicated by...
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EEOC Finally Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Wellness Programs

The final regulations concerning wellness programs under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended (HIPAA) continue to generate a number of questions and concerns for employers whose programs seek to promote employee health by curbing tobacco use. The compliance status of some programs is further complicated by...
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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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