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<< Older News   |  October 25, 2016

Benefits in the News

IRS Provides Retirement Plan Distribution Relief for Hurricane Matthew
[Guidance Overview]
Oct. 24, 2016
"[T]he relief does not change the tax consequences of any loan or hardship distribution being made under the relief. Hardship distributions will still be taxable as an in-service distribution and potentially subject to early distribution penalties. The relief simply temporarily removes certain administrative burdens of the plan so that funds can be released quicker than normal procedures would typically take, and so that plans that do not currently have provisions for hardship distributions can make them before the employer formally amends its plan to include such provisions."
Rising Insurance Premiums Boost Talk of Changes to ACA
The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required
Oct. 24, 2016
"President Barack Obama led his party's cry ... with suggestions that would further entrench the law, including the addition of a government-run health plan in parts of the country with limited competition. GOP lawmakers have continued to call for gutting the law, including proposals to waive its penalties for people who forgo coverage in areas with limited insurance options.... Next year, a new president and Congress will be under pressure to ensure that people who buy coverage on their own still have access to viable plans."
Sharing Consumer Health Information? Look to HIPAA and the FTC Act
Federal Trade Commission [FTC]
Oct. 24, 2016
"Does your business collect and share consumer health information? When it comes to privacy, you've probably thought about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). But did you know that you also need to comply with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act? This means if you share health information, it's not enough to simply consider the HIPAA regulations. You also must make sure your disclosure statements are not deceptive under the FTC Act."
Facebook, Coca-Cola, Braun Medical Offer Paid Parental Leave Tips
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]
Oct. 24, 2016
"[O]nly 26 percent of employers offer paid maternity leave beyond what's covered by short-term disability or state law, only 21 percent offer paid paternity leave and only 20 percent offer paid adoption leave. And yet the media is buzzing with accounts of employers introducing generous paid parental leave programs."
Datasets Published for All Health Exchange Plans from 2015 to 2016
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Oct. 24, 2016
"HIX Compare includes information on premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, as well as cost-sharing requirements for primary care and specialist visits, prescription drugs, emergency room services and inpatient and outpatient visits for all plans across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The previous 2016 HIX Compare files have been replaced by new, expanded data files."
New ACA Student Health Insurance Guidance Allows College Payment of Working Students' Student Health Insurance Premiums Post-2016
Solutions Law Press
Oct. 24, 2016
"Colleges and other institutions of higher education within the meaning of the Higher Education Act of 1965 may continue until further notice to pay or subsidize student health insurance coverage premiums for students performing work-study or other services for the school as part of their financial aid package without fear of prosecution for violation of the group market reform requirements of the [ACA], according to ACA guidance jointly published by the [DOL], [HHS], and the Treasury[.]"
How Pensions Pass the Buck to Future Generations
Oct. 24, 2016
"A surprising reason dissident actuaries advocate using a much lower earnings forecast for public pension investment funds is 'intergenerational equity,' ensuring that the pensions of government workers are paid by the generation that receives their services.... With little or no risk of loss, investments with predictable yields could closely match the cost of pensions workers earn during a year, minimizing debt passed to future generations. But that would be costly. The yield on the 20-year Treasury bond last week was 2.2 percent."
DOL Ramps Up Examinations of 401(k) TPAs, Advisors
Oct. 24, 2016
"Over the last 12 months, the [DOL] has quietly ratcheted up its examinations of firms that serve retirement plans, including brokerage firms, registered investment advisers and third-party administrators ... The Labor Department is examining how these companies get paid and whether their compensation poses a conflict of interest ... A Labor Department spokesman confirmed the examinations and said the effort is part of bigger push by the agency to examine all areas of employee benefits, including health and welfare plans."
Highlights of the ISS 2016-2017 Policy Survey
Morgan Lewis
Oct. 24, 2016
"For 53% of investor respondents, the lack of newly appointed independent directors in recent years raised concerns about a board's nominating and refreshment processes. For 51% of respondents, lengthy average board tenure (average tenure greater than 10 or 15 years) is a concern ... A majority of investor respondents (64%) favored applying the stricter CEO standard, thereby limiting the total number of boards on which an executive chair may serve to three (including the home company board)."
Telemedicine: A Popular New Benefit with Potential Legal Gotchas
Wilkins Finston Friedman Law Group LLP
Oct. 24, 2016
"[Here] are some of the considerations employers should consider in determining whether to offer telemedicine services. [1] Do the scope of your telemedicine services cause the program to be a group health plan?.... [1] Is it feasible to offer telemedicine services through your existing group health plan? ... [2] Are there any legal restrictions that impact your ability to offer telemedicine services?"
Benefits of the Tax-Preferred Status of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance (PDF)
American Health Policy Institute
Oct. 24, 2016
17 pages. "[T]he current tax treatment of health care benefits provides strong incentives to employers who purchase health care for their employees to focus on the overall health of their employees and to use their leverage to improve the quality and cost of the health care system. Furthermore, changes to the tax treatment of health care benefits may discourage employers from offering coverage to their employees.... [L]imiting or eliminating the current tax exclusion of employer-provided health care benefits could cost our system far more than any benefits it may provide."
SEC Provides New Guidance on Pay Ratio Disclosure
Drinker Biddle
[Guidance Overview]
Oct. 24, 2016
"Item 402(u) provides companies with substantial flexibility in calculating the required disclosures.... Rather than having to calculate the total annual compensation of every employee just to identify the median, the rule permits a company to base its median employee determination on any 'consistently applied compensation measure' reasonably chosen by the company."
A Look at What's Coming: IRS Issues Guidance Priorities (PDF)
Groom Law Group
Oct. 24, 2016
"The July 2016-June 2017 'guidance priorities' plan highlights areas of pending qualified plan guidance, with a vast majority of the 35 pension-related projects being carryovers from prior guidance plan lists. A summary of what is to come in the coming year from the project list can be found in [this] article."
Put Public Employees on Secure Choice and Social Security
Oct. 24, 2016
"Why not freeze the employer contributions into California's state and local employee pension funds at 20% of salary (that's a two-to-one match on a 10% contribution via withholding), and then, constrained by those fixed percentages, lower all benefits, for all participants, on a pro-rata basis to restore solvency? Better yet, why not enroll every state and local government employee in the Secure Choice program?"
OCR on HIPAA Enforcement: 'We May Have More Fines in the Future'
Oct. 24, 2016
"OCR will be providing more guidance to help entities and [business associates], noted Deven McGraw, OCR's deputy director for health information privacy, also speaking at the conference. The guidance will address, among other things, the distinction between a request for records from a third party versus from an individual patient, text messaging, sharing information with a patient's friends and family, and social media."
EBSA Initiatives of Importance to Service Providers
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA]
Oct. 24, 2016
"At the national office level[:] ... Rapid ERISA Action Team ('REACT') ... Contributory Plans Criminal Project ... Consultant/Adviser Project (CAP) ... Form 5500 Enforcement Project ... Regional Office enforcement projects [include:] Late deposit of elective deferral contributions and loan repayments noted on Form 5500.... Large Defined Benefit Plan Project.... Excessive Fees Initiative.... Benefit Distributions Initiative."
IRS Releases Final Instructions for Forms 1094-B/1095-B and 1094-C/1095-C
Haynes and Boone, LLP
[Guidance Overview]
Oct. 24, 2016
"The IRS recently released final instructions for the 2016 Forms 1094 and 1095.... While a few of the items are 'neutral' and merely reflect pre-programmed changes under the [ACA] that were already known and set to occur, many of the changes and clarifications are welcome news."
The Impact of Ageing Populations on Global Pensions
Oct. 24, 2016
"This year's report includes a projected old age dependency ratio which will raise alarm in many regions. The range of the ratio is stark -- predicting that in South Africa there will be one retiree for every 7 people of working age while in Japan the number drops to one retiree for every 1.44 people of working age by 2040."
DOJ and FTC Issue Guidance on Antitrust Laws in the Employment Context
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
[Guidance Overview]
Oct. 24, 2016
"[A]greements (whether formal or informal) among employers to limit or fix the compensation paid to employees or to refrain from soliciting or hiring each other's employees are per se violations of the antitrust laws. Also, even if competitors don't explicitly agree to limit or suppress compensation, the mere exchange of compensation information among employers may violate the antitrust laws if it has the effect of suppressing compensation."
Guaranteed Benefits Denied to Beneficiaries of Terminally Ill Employee Who Died Before Annuity Starting Date
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business
Oct. 24, 2016
"A retirement plan committee did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in denying ten years of guaranteed annuity payments to the beneficiaries of a terminally ill employee who died after his last day of work but eight days before his annuity starting date, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston (CA-1). Although the employee had delayed his retirement date on the advice of his employer, the terms of the plan implicitly conditioned the nearly $500,000 in guaranteed benefits on the employee surviving until the annuity starting date." [O'Shea v. UPS Retirement Plan, No. 15-1923 (1st Cir. Sept. 13, 2016)
Election 2016: A Reminder About New York's Voting Leave Law and Posting Requirements
Ogletree Deakins
[Guidance Overview]
Oct. 24, 2016
"Employers ... should be mindful that New York law requires the posting of a notice at least 10 working days prior to 'every election.' ... New York law requires that every employer post this notice 'conspicuously in the place of work,' and it must remain in place until the close of the polls on November 8, 2016."
Text of IRS Proposed Regs and Notice of Public Hearing: Special Enrollment Examination User Fees: Enrolled Agents
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]
[Official Guidance]
Oct. 24, 2016
"This document withdraws a proposed regulation relating to the user fee for the special enrollment examination to become an enrolled agent. This document also proposes a new regulation to increase the user fee for the examination to recover the cost to the IRS of overseeing the administration of the examination. The withdrawal and proposal affect individuals taking the enrolled agent special enrollment examination. This document also contains a notice of public hearing on the new proposed regulation."
These Top Law Firms Got the Most ERISA Class Action Biz
Bloomberg BNA
Oct. 24, 2016
"The law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius tops the list of law firms getting the most business from large employers hit with ERISA class actions in the past year. Since November 2015, Morgan Lewis has been hired to represent employers in 19 [ERISA] class actions, according to Bloomberg BNA's research.... O'Melveny & Myers LLP closely follows."
Text of IRS Announcement 2016-39: Retirement Plan Distribution Relief for Victims of Hurricane Matthew (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]
[Official Guidance]
Oct. 21, 2016
"[A] qualified employer plan will not be treated as failing to satisfy any requirement under the Code or regulations merely because the plan makes a loan, or a hardship distribution for a need arising from Hurricane Matthew, to an employee or former employee whose principal residence on October 4, 2016, (October 3, 2016, for Florida) was located in one of the counties identified for individual assistance by [FEMA] because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew or whose place of employment was located in one of these counties on that applicable date or whose lineal ascendant or descendant, dependent, or spouse had a principal residence or place of employment in one of these counties on that date. These counties identified for individual assistance by FEMA are in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina and can be found on FEMA's website ...

"Plan administrators may rely upon representations from the employee or former employee as to the need for and amount of a hardship distribution, unless the plan administrator has actual knowledge to the contrary, and the distribution is treated as a hardship distribution for all purposes under the Code and regulations ...

"[A] 'qualified employer plan' means a plan or contract meeting the requirements of Section 401(a), 403(a) or 403(b), and ... a plan described in Section 457(b) maintained by an eligible employer described in Section 457(e)(1)(A), and any hardship arising from Hurricane Matthew is treated as an 'unforeseeable emergency' for purposes of distributions from such plans....

"To make a loan or hardship distribution pursuant to the relief provided in this announcement, a qualified employer plan that does not provide for them must be amended to provide for loans or hardship distributions no later than the end of the first plan year beginning after December 31, 2016. To qualify for the relief under this announcement, a hardship distribution must be made on account of a hardship resulting from Hurricane Matthew and be made on or after October 4, 2016, (October 3, 2016, for Florida) and no later than March 15, 2017."

IRS Information Release 2016-138: Retirement Plans Can Make Loans, Hardship Distributions to Victims of Hurricane Matthew (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]
[Guidance Overview]
Oct. 21, 2016
"Participants in 401(k) plans, employees of public schools and tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities, as well as state and local government employees with 457(b) deferred-compensation plans may be eligible to take advantage of these streamlined loan procedures and liberalized hardship distribution rules. Though IRA participants are barred from taking out loans, they may be eligible to receive distributions under liberalized procedures.... Currently, parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida qualify for individual assistance."

<< Older News   |  October 25, 2016

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