Blog Posts: Benefits Law Update

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Named a Top 10 Blog in Compensation and Benefits, Verrill's attorneys use the Benefits Law Update blog to provide timely updates and commentary on developments in law affecting employee benefit plans and executive compensation arrangements.

Health Plans: PCORI Fee Is Due August 1, 2022

What is the PCORI Fee? The Affordable Care Act created a non-profit corporation, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (“PCORI”), to conduct research to help individuals, providers, and policymakers make better healthcare choices by advancing comparative clinical effectiveness research. PCORI is financed by a fee imposed under Internal Revenue Code...
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IRS Announces New Pilot Program for Retirement Plan Audits

On June 3, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) announced a new pre-examination compliance pilot program beginning in June 2022. Under the pilot program, the IRS will notify a plan sponsor by letter that its retirement plan has been selected for examination and will provide the plan sponsor with...
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Department of Labor Guidance and Federal Initiatives Counsel a Wait-and-See Approach for 401(k) Plan Fiduciaries Interested in Cryptocurrency Options

On March 10, 2022, the Department of Labor published Compliance Assistance Release 2022-01, 401(k) Plan Investments in “Cryptocurrencies” . The Release strongly discourages the addition of cryptocurrency (and other digital asset) options to the investment menus in ERISA retirement plans at “this early stage in the history of cryptocurrencies.&rdquo...
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DOL Signals Heightened Enforcement of Non-Quantitative Treatment Limitation Requirements

Introduction . When the U.S. Department of Labor issued its biennial 2022 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“MHPAEA”) Report to Congress earlier this year, it outlined significant noncompliance by health plans. (Full Report here .) Specifically, it found that plans were not complying with the new comparative...
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Proposed IRS Regulations Clarify SECURE Act Changes to RMD Rules for Beneficiaries

When the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Security Act of 2019 (SECURE Act) took effect on January 1, 2020, it changed the rules for retirement plan required minimum distributions (RMDs) to participants and beneficiaries. Earlier this year, the IRS released proposed regulations implementing those changes. The regulations are...
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How many participants is too many for a top hat plan?

A client recently reviewed a census of participants in its deferred compensation plan and found that the covered group amounted to nearly 15% of its total workforce. Mindful of the need to limit the number of participants in a top hat plan, this compliance-oriented organization asked whether it should...
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How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot with Your SPD

Benefit plan sponsors sometimes send out Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) having given too little thought to the legal consequences. Two recent cases illustrate how an organization can end up in serious and costly litigation based on statements that did not have to be made in SPDs that did not...
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Surprise Medical Bills: Texas District Court Vacates Portion of Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) Process in Agency Rule

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas recently vacated a portion of the Requirements Related to Surprise Billing, Part II, Interim Final Rule (the “Rule”) regarding the independent dispute resolution (IDR) process that applies to surprise medical bills. [1] Specifically, the Court vacated a controversial provision...
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Correcting 401(k) Plan Excess Elective Deferrals

With the April 15 deadline for distributing excess elective deferrals fast approaching, this post summarizes the rules for correcting excess elective deferrals made to a 401(k) plan. In brief, excess elective deferrals not distributed from a 401(k) plan by April 15 of the calendar year following the calendar year...
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Required Minimum Distributions and Missing Plan Participants

In January of 2021, we published two blog posts regarding Department of Labor (“DOL”) guidance on missing retirement plan participants. The first post describes DOL guidance on best practices for locating missing retirement plan participants. The second post describes the DOL’s Terminated Vested Participants Project (“TVPP”), which was initiated...
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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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Health Plans: PCORI Fee Is Due August 1, 2022

What is the PCORI Fee? The Affordable Care Act created a non-profit corporation, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (“PCORI”), to conduct research to help individuals, providers, and policymakers make better healthcare choices by advancing...

Blog

Department of Labor Guidance and Federal Initiatives Counsel a Wait-and-See Approach for 401(k) Plan Fiduciaries Interested in Cryptocurrency Options

On March 10, 2022, the Department of Labor published Compliance Assistance Release 2022-01, 401(k) Plan Investments in “Cryptocurrencies” . The Release strongly discourages the addition of cryptocurrency (and other digital asset) options to the...

News

Verrill Appoints Karen Hartford as Firm’s New Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair

Publication/Podcast

2021 Year End Employee Benefit Plan Amendments

Health and Welfare Plans Employers that made available COVID-19 relief and benefit enhancements in 2020 – such as the increased carry over limit and extended grace period for health flexible spending accounts – need...

Blog

IRS Announces New Pilot Program for Retirement Plan Audits

On June 3, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) announced a new pre-examination compliance pilot program beginning in June 2022. Under the pilot program, the IRS will notify a plan sponsor by letter that...

News

31 Verrill Attorneys, Across Four Offices, Recognized in 2022 Chambers & Partners Guide

Publication/Podcast

Courts Expand on Rules Regarding the Protection of Retirement Plan Assets

Matter

Advised Fortune 500 Company on Group Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

We were engaged by a Fortune 500 manufacturing company to provide legal and compliance services regarding its group health and welfare benefit plans. During the course of our representation, we have advised the company...

Matter

Comprehensive Benefit Plans Representation of Seller in Strategic Acquisition

We represented the largest physician network in Massachusetts in the employee benefits and executive compensation aspects of its acquisition by one of the largest health care companies in the United States. After several rounds...

Publication/Podcast

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...

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