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PBGC Simplifies Calculation of Liability for Withdrawal from Multiemployer Pension Plans
Seyfarth Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Jan. 19, 2021

"The PBGC expects the final rule will benefit multiemployer pension plans that adopt the simplified methodology by reducing the cost associated with the withdrawal liability calculation. Notably, however, it does not appear that the final rule will result in any significant changes to the amounts of withdrawal liability assessed on employers that withdraw from multiemployer pension plans. The rule only simplifies the way that those amounts are calculated."

Tags: Multiemployer Plans  •  PBGC

What If the Participant Already Spent an Overpayment from the Plan?
Belfint Lyons Shuman Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"Employers who issue overpayments greater than $100 should ask the participants to 'Give It Back!' and if/when they say they already spent the money, after responding 'Ok, Keep It!' employers must reiterate that the amount representing the overpayment can not benefit from favorable tax treatment and must be removed from any tax deferred accounts that accepted a rollover, if applicable. When appropriate, the employer or another party can put the amount of the overpayment in an unallocated amount to be offset against future employer contributions, or they can reimburse defined benefit or balance-forward plans to make them whole."

Tags: Retirement Plan Administration

Editor's Pick Working Paper on State and Local Pensions:The Case for Fundamental Reforms (PDF)
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Labor [DOL] Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

99 pages; Jan. 15, 2021."This Report has several goals. It summarizes the finances and operations of the nation's state and local pension plans today and the challenges they face. It describes the pressures, the regulatory frameworks, and the choices which have produced these current burdens and challenges. It draws some lessons from the varied institutional structures and economic outcomes of public-sector pensions and private-sector retirement programs. Finally, it suggests some routes to reform in order to promote sound pension administration and enhanced retirement security. This Report's central aim is to illuminate the pension problems faced by state and local governments, policymakers, and taxpayers -- and to encourage states and localities to address these problems."

Tags: Funding of DB Plans  •  State and Local Government Plans

The National Retirement Risk Index: An Update from the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances
Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"From 2016 to 2019, the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) fell slightly from 50 percent to 49 percent. This improvement reflected gains in stock and, particularly, house prices, which were partly offset by lower interest rates and Social Security replacement rates. In 2020, the economy was hit by COVID and the ensuing recession. Higher unemployment in 2020, offset somewhat by the continued rise in stock and house prices, increased the NRRI to 51 percent. In any case, half of today's workers remain unprepared for retirement, underscoring the need for universal access to employer-based savings plans."

Tags: Retirement Plan Design

New Year, New CMS Price Transparency Rule for Hospitals
Health Affairs Blog Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Jan. 19, 2021

"[CMS] has promulgated a new rule for hospital pricing, effective January 1, 2021, that would require disclosure of a wide range of hospital prices. This blog post reviews the history, requirements, and scope of the CMS rule, industry criticisms of the rule and the lawsuit challenging it, and the prospects for compliance. While the CMS rule will not single-handedly normalize health care pricing, it at least promises to make it more transparent."

Tags: Health Plan Costs

2020 Progress Report for HERO Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard (PDF)
HERO Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

36 pages. "Most employers are aware that a comprehensive approach is needed to improve the effectiveness of workplace health and well-being initiatives, but it can be overwhelming for employers to try to tackle all of the practices listed on the HERO Scorecard at once. This study recognizes the critical role of organizational and leadership support in driving successful initiatives, and this article identifies ten specific strategies employers can focus on to ensure they are getting the most value from their investment in employee health and well-being."

Tags: Health Plan Costs  •  Health Plan Design

Modeling the Effects of Health Plan Enrollee Choice
Society of Actuaries Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"This study uses health care encounter data to simulate the choices faced by health insurance shoppers under a variety of conditions and measures the simulated effect of increased consumer choice and consumer information on medical loss ratios and, as a consequence, insurer profitability."

Tags: Health Plan Administration  •  Health Plan Costs

DOL Appoints New Members to the 2021 ERISA Advisory Council
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL] Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"The appointees and the expertise they represent are: [1] Employers: Megan Broderick is Senior Director for Global Retirement and Financial Wellbeing at PepsiCo.... [2] Corporate Trust: Dave Gray is Head of Workplace Retirement Offerings and Platforms at Fidelity Investments.... [3] General Public: Mercedes D. Ikard is Director of Retirement Planning for Atrium Health.... [4] Employee Organizations: Anthony Marc Perrone is the International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).... [5] Investment Management: Edward A. Schwartz is President of Schwartz & Co., a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer.... Current member Glenn Butash will serve as the chair of the 2021 Council. Butash is Managing Counsel, U.S. Compensation and Benefits, at Nokia.... Current member James Haubrock will serve as the vice chair of the council. Haubrock is a shareholder with Clark Schaefer Hackett."

Tags: Health Plan Policy  •  Retirement Plan Policy

Cost Comparison of Two Approaches to Chiropractic Care for Patients with Acute and Sub-Acute Low Back Pain Care Episodes
Chiropractic & Manual Therapies Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"[This study] compared cost outcomes for patients of two cohorts of chiropractors within health care system: Cohort 1 a general network of providers, and Cohort 2 a network providing conservative evidence-based care for rapid resolution of pain.... In general, providers in Cohort 2 were found to be significantly associated with lower costs for patient care as compared to Cohort 1. Utilization of a clinical model characterized by a patient-centered clinic approach and standardized, best-practice clinical protocols may offer lower cost when compared to non-standardized clinical approaches to chiropractic care."

Tags: Health Plan Costs  •  Health Plan Design

Text of IRS Notice 2021-09: Weighted Average Interest Rates, Yield Curves, and Segment Rates for January 2021 (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Jan. 19, 2021

"This notice provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates used under Section 417(e)(3), and the 24-month average segment rates under Section 430(h)(2) ... In addition, this notice provides guidance as to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury securities under Section 417(e)(3)(A)(ii)(II) as in effect for plan years beginning before 2008 and the 30-year Treasury weighted average rate under Section 431(c)(6)(E)(ii)(I)."

Tags: Funding of DB Plans  •  Retirement Plan Administration

DOL Provides Guidance on Missing Pension Plan Participants
Verrill Dana LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Jan. 19, 2021

"The first step towards establishing good procedures is for plan fiduciaries to identify problems with their plans. The Best Practices guidance identifies [a list of] 'red flags' indicating that a plan may have a missing participant problem ... [T]he DOL has compiled lists of best practices for recordkeeping, communication strategies, and missing participant searches."

Tags: Fiduciary Duties  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Motion Picture Industry ERISA Plan Under the Bright, Hot Lights Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"At first glance, this looks like many other ERISA fiduciary breach lawsuits. The plaintiffs have the daunting task of working backwards from disappointing investment results to show that fiduciaries breached fundamental ERISA legal duties.... [This case] pushes the argument one step farther, claiming that the plan's basic design amounted to a breach of duty.... If bad design can be a violation of ERISA, the potential for fiduciary liability increases exponentially." [Klawonn v. Board of Directors for the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plans, No. 20-9194 (C.D. Cal. complaint filed Oct. 7, 2021)]

Tags: Fiduciary Duties  •  Retirement Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Investments

BlackRock 401(k) Plan Class Action Headed for Trial
Jackson Lewis P.C. Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"A class action alleging that BlackRock entities favored their own proprietary funds when selecting investment options for BlackRock's 401(k) Plan is headed for trial after [the District Court judge] denied both parties' motions for summary judgment[.]" [Baird v. BlackRock Inst'l. Trust Co., No. 17-1892 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 12, 2021)]

Tags: Fiduciary Duties  •  Retirement Plan Investment Costs  •  Retirement Plan Investments

When Can 401(k) Fiduciaries Get Excessive Fee Suits Dismissed?
Cohen & Buckmann, P.C. Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"[T]he number of [ERISA fee litigation] lawsuits filed in 2020 was double the number filed in 2018. While some of the fiduciaries who were sued didn't take their fiduciary responsibilities seriously, many others who tried to do a good job were caught in the sights of aggressive class action attorneys.... [Two recent] decisions may provide a template for further dismissals of cases filed based on conclusory allegations and speculation rather than the actual conduct of the defendants."

Tags: Fiduciary Duties

Ethics, Earnings, and ERISA: Ethical-Factor Investing of Savings and Retirement Benefits
Law Offices of Albert Feuer, via SSRN Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"Two fiduciary and tax-qualification questions arise in the retirement/savings plan realm with respect to ethical factor investing. Fiduciaries of non-ERISA plans, such as many government plans, often must satisfy tax-qualification rules similar to fiduciary rules governing ERISA plans. To what extent may fiduciaries make available ethical-factor investment options to participants and beneficiaries, who self-direct their investments, such as those for 401(k) plans or 403(b) plans? To what extent may plan fiduciaries, make ethical-factor investments on behalf of participants and beneficiaries, such as those for defined benefit plans?"

Tags: Fiduciary Duties  •  Retirement Plan Investments - ESG

Text of HHS Final Regs: Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2022; Updates to State Innovation Waiver (Section 1332 Waiver) Implementing Regulations
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], and U.S. Department of the Treasury Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Jan. 19, 2021

"This final rule sets forth provisions related to user fees for federally-facilitated Exchanges and State-based Exchanges on the Federal Platform. It includes changes related to acceptance of payments by issuers of individual market Qualified Health Plans and clarifies the regulation imposing network adequacy standards with regard to Qualified Health Plans that do not use provider networks. It also adds a new direct enrollment option for federally-facilitated Exchanges and State Exchanges and implements changes related to section 1332 State Innovation Waivers.... This final rule addresses only a subset of the policies and proposed regulatory revisions addressed in the proposed 2022 Payment Notice[.]"

Tags: Health Plan Design

Surprise Medical Billing Protections Coming in 2022
Vorys Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Jan. 19, 2021

"Why do participants get surprise medical bills? ... What is the difference between a participating provider and a nonparticipating provider? ... Under what circumstances will the CAA shield participants from surprise medical bills? ... How will disagreements between plans and nonparticipating providers be resolved? ... Can a nonparticipating provider ask a participant to waive surprise medical billing protections? ... Now what?"

Tags: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021   •  Health Plan Administration  •  Health Plan Costs

With 401(k) Plans, What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
John Rekenthaler, via Morningstar Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"401(k) investors who use plans that have revenue-sharing agreements subsidize investors who do not. That is illogical. Why should one firm's employees have a weaker retirement plan because that organization's benefits department failed to understand the implications of revenue-sharing arrangements? Surely it would be better to require recordkeepers to bid for exactly what they will receive. No undercover payments, no surprises."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  Retirement Plan Information for Employees  •  Retirement Plan Investment Costs

401(k) Firm Merger Mania Will Continue
401(k) Specialist Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"If you look at the multiples right now, they are at an all-time peak and have gone up from the end-of-year-deals last year.... [It's] still a seller's market because, by simple definition, you have more firms chasing fewer sellers. That will change at some point. Advisors aren't getting any younger.... Whatever the reasons, [Dick Darian, of Wise Rhino Group,] says it will continue, with 2021 much like 2020. "

Tags: 401(k) Plans

Reporting Deferred Compensation on Form 990
Verrill Dana LLP Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"Tax-exempt organizations often provide deferred compensation to their officers, key employees, and most highly compensated employees. Like current compensation payable to such employees, deferred compensation must be reported annually on Form 990, Schedule J.... This blog post describes the rules and gives an illustrative example."

Tags: Executive comp

Top Considerations for Adopting FSA Funding Relief
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Jan. 19, 2021

"Employers have flexibility to implement and tailor one or more of the available options.... Some administrators have adopted the rules unless employers opt out of them. Pay attention to communications from your administrators to ensure you do not lose flexibility ... [1] Carryover eligibility.... [2] Amount.... [3] HSA eligibility.... [4] Ordering rules.... [5] Aged-out dependents.... [6] COBRA considerations.... [7] Fiscal year plans.... [8] Employee communications.... [9] Plan amendments."

Tags: Cafeteria Plans  •  Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021   •  Dependent Care  •  Health Plan Design

Top Employee Benefits Trends for 2021 (PDF)
Fidelity Investments Link to more items from this source
Jan. 19, 2021

"[1] Workplace giving and volunteer programs to help employees support their community and the causes important to them.... [2] Increased help with student debt for women, employees of color.... [3] Resources to help employees create an emergency savings fund.... [4] More self-directed brokerage windows in 401(k) and 403(b) plans.... [5] Broader support for employee total well-being with an increased focus on employee caregiving roles.... [6] Emotional/mental health support for employees in a 'virtual' work environment."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  Health Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Design

Considerations for Recognizing and Addressing Participants with Diminished Capacity (PDF)
Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL] Link to more items from this source
Jan. 18, 2021

42 pages. "[T]he Council recommends that the [DOL] highlight the issue of the risks to individuals resulting from diminished mental capacity, including potential financial exploitation, including: [1] As part of the Department's outreach and education programs, provide general public education ... [2] Publish information ... on the topic, with a focus on ... best practices recommended by the financial services industry ... [3] Issue guidance that recognizes that fiduciaries may voluntarily adopt policies or procedures that: (a) impose reasonable temporary restrictions on participant plan actions ... when participants exhibit signs of diminished capacity or financial exploitation, and/or (b) encourage actions by participants such as the identification of a 'trusted contact,' require confirmation of a Power of Attorney authorization's continuing effectiveness, or take other reasonable steps ... to protect participants from potential fraud and financial abuse."

Tags: Health Plan Administration  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Examining Top Hat Plan Participation and Reporting (PDF)
Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL] Link to more items from this source
Jan. 18, 2021

64 pages. "[T]he Council recommends that the Department: [1] Require that top hat plan sponsors notify eligible participants of the risks associated with the absence of ERISA's substantive protections ... [2] Revise the alternative reporting regime for top hat plans to: Require reporting every 3 years or, if earlier, upon ceasing to cover any employees; [and] Include, at a minimum, [specified] data elements ... [3] Issue a Request for Information seeking comments from interested stakeholders on possible regulatory definitions of a 'select group of management or highly compensated employees,' including possible bright-line definitions and/or safe harbor/unsafe harbor definitions."

Tags: Nonqualified Plans

Text of IRS Rev. Rul. 2021-3: Permitted Disparity in Employer-Provided Contributions or Benefits -- Covered Compensation Tables for the 2021 Plan Year (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Jan. 18, 2021

"For purposes of determining covered compensation for the 2021 year, the taxable wage base is $142,800. The following tables provide covered compensation for 2021."

Tags: Retirement Plan Administration  •  Retirement Plan Design

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