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.

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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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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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observed that the Investment Policy Statement (IPS) that the committee adopted many years ago was a bit thin and out of date...
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Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation 2020 Year-End Client Advisory

Click here to view as a PDF . This Client Advisory highlights important developments in the law governing employee benefit plans 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 2021. The following...
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New IRS Guidance Will Help Facilitate 403(b) Plan Terminations

With the publication of Revenue Ruling 2020-23 , the IRS completed a cycle of helpful guidance regarding the termination of 403(b) plans that began with the publication of regulations under Code Section 403(b) in 2007. Revenue Ruling 2020-23, issued pursuant to a direction given to the Secretary of the...
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Proposed Regulations Clarify Application of Excise Tax under Code Section 4960

Proposed Regulations published by the Treasury Department last month provide helpful clarifications regarding the application of the excise tax under Section 4960 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). The content of the Proposed Regulations is generally consistent with the guidance provided early last year...
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Paying Health Insurance Premiums for Furloughed or Laid Off Employees

Employers of all sizes in nearly every industry have had to lay off or furlough employees in an attempt to deal with the massive business disruptions caused by the spread of COVID-19. Facing this reality, many employers have asked whether they can pay monthly health insurance premiums on behalf...
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What You Need to Know About the SECURE Act

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the “SECURE Act”) is the most far reaching new law affecting retirement benefits in more than a decade. Due to its importance, we have developed a client advisory highlighting key aspects of the SECURE Act that affect the...
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December 2019 Client Advisory

This Client Advisory, originally distributed in December 2019, 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 2020. The following...
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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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Firm Highlights

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Deciphering First Circuit’s Thirty-page Primer on NQTL Analysis and ERISA Information Requests

The widely publicized 2022 Report to Congress regarding the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“Parity Act”) forewarned greater enforcement efforts by the Department of Labor and highlighted suspected deficiencies in health plans&rsquo...

Blog

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...

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...

Blog

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...

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...

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

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...

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