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Senate HELP Committee Hearing on the Retirement Crisis in America
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, U.S. Senate Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

Video of Feb. 27 hearing. Majority staff report, statement from Ranking Member Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and testimony from: [1] Sara Schambers, UAW Member; [2] Teresa Ghilarducci, The New School for Social Research; [3] Dan Doonan, National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS); [4] Rachel Greszler, The Heritage Foundation; and [5] Eric Stevenson, Nationwide Retirement Solutions, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

Tags: Retirement Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Policy

Senate HELP Committee Releases Majority Staff Report Exposing Depth of Retirement Crisis Facing Working Class Americans
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, U.S. Senate Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"Key findings from the report include: [1] Nearly half of Americans 55 and older have no retirement savings. [2] 52 percent of Americans 65 and older are living on less than $30,000 annually and one in four survive on less than $15,000 per year. [3] Nearly 5.3 million Americans 65 and older live in poverty, roughly 1 in 10 seniors. [4] Nearly half of all Americans are at risk of a financially insecure retirement, up from one in three workers in 1983. [5] The average monthly Social Security benefit in 2023 was only about $1,782, or $21,384 annually. [6] The top 20 percent of earners receive 63 percent of the $202 billion in annual income tax breaks for retirement accounts, while the bottom 60 percent receive just 13.4 percent of these breaks."

Tags: Retirement Plan Policy

DOL Fact Sheet 28J: Special Rules for Airline Flight Crew Employees Under the Family and Medical Leave Act
Wage and Hour Division [WHD], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL] Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 28, 2024

"The FMLA's eligibility, leave calculation, and recordkeeping requirements apply differently to airline flight crew employees ... For FMLA purposes, airline flight crew employees include flight attendants, pilots, co-pilots, flight engineers, and flight navigators.... [T]he 1,250 hours of service requirement for an airline flight crew employee's FMLA eligibility is determined by assessing the number of hours the employee has worked or been paid over the previous 12 months."

Tags: FMLA and Other Leave

Teresa Ghilarducci Confirms Proposal to Create Federal 401(k) Would Remove Employers from Retirement Saving System
American Retirement Association [ARA] Link to more items from this source
[Opinion]
Feb. 28, 2024

"Familiar 401(k) critic Teresa Ghilarducci testified before Congress on Wednesday, claiming America's retirement system is 'severely broken' and seniors must either 'work or rely on the kindness of strangers to dodge the increasing risk of elder poverty.' ... Yet data contradicts Ghilarducci's point. Far from destitute, the Federal Reserve's Q3 2023 Survey of Consumer Finances found that Baby Boomers are the wealthiest generation in the nation's history. State Auto-IRAs and provisions in SECURE 2.0 legislation aim to close the retirement plan coverage gap, and 2019's SECURE Act included language specifically designed to promote guaranteed lifetime income products within retirement plans."

Tags: Retirement Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Policy

More Resources Now Available for Finding Lost Retirement Plan Benefits
Pension Rights Center [PRC] Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"Those searching for benefits can start by checking out the 'Find Unclaimed Retirement Benefits' search tool on the [PBGC's] website.... [This] database mainly includes the names of people who participated in defined benefit pension plans ... [and includes] 'missing participants' from some, but not all, terminated 401(k)-type plans. The PBGC also has a separate searchable list of employers with ongoing defined benefit pension plans that are insured by the PBGC -- Plans Paying PBGC Premiums."

Tags: Retirement Plan Information for Employees

Tenth Circuit Reinstates Life Insurance Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim
NFP Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"[T]he US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that an employer may be liable for the value of group life insurance benefits that would have been available under an insured policy absent the employer's failure to adequately inform the employee of the plan's conversion requirements." [Watson v. EMC Corp., No. 22-1356 (10th Cir. Feb. 9, 2024)]

Tags: Death Benefits & Life Insurance  •  Fiduciary Duties

Washington State Employers Now Have Greater Access to PFML Leave Information for Employees
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 28, 2024

"Employers will now be able to view: Employee application dates, Requested leave dates, Leave type requested, and PFML leave decisions and approved dates. However, employers will not be able to review: Employee health information, The specific reason for the leave, Benefit or payment amounts, or Hours of benefits used. Likewise, information about whether the leave is intermittent or continuous is unavailable."

Tags: FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

The Price of New York Life's 401(k) Lawsuit: $19M
InvestmentNews; subscription may be required Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"New York Life has agreed to pay $19 million to end a lawsuit over the company's use of its own investment products in its 401(k) plans. The agreement ... will bring to a close a three-year old case that accused the insurance company of breaching its fiduciary duty to its employees." [Krohnengold v. New York Life Ins. Co., No. 21-1778 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 10, 2022; proposed settlement agreement filed Feb. 26, 2024)]

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  Fiduciary Duties  •  Retirement Plan Investment Costs  •  Retirement Plan Investments

California District Court Denies Motion to Dismiss 401(k) Excessive Fee and Underperformance Claims
Proskauer Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"The decision is notable for illustrating how pleading standards in investment performance and excessive fee litigation vary depending on jurisdiction.... In this case, defendants could not overcome the Court's consideration of seemingly unrelated allegations to support holdings that plaintiffs plausibly alleged certain claims, or the Court's refusal to apply a 'meaningful benchmark' standard to plaintiffs' excessive fee claim." [Coppel v. Seaworld Parks & Entertainment, Inc., No. 21-1430 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 31, 2024)]

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

J&J Case Practical Considerations: The ERISA Trust Rules for Health Plans, Part 2
Newfront Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"One key point of the case from an ERISA perspective is that the complaint states J&J relied on a trust to fund its group health plan. This may prove to be a pivotal aspect of the case because the plaintiff can establish a clear connection between the core fiduciary duties imposed upon employers as the ERISA plan administrator and all trust funds as plan assets. The connection would be far more extenuated if plan benefits were paid from J&J's general assets, as is more typical for employers sponsoring self-insured health plans." [Lewandowski v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 23-0671 (D.N.J. complaint filed Feb. 5, 2024)]

Tags: Fiduciary Duties  •  Health Plan Administration  •  Health Plan Costs

Employer-Provided Fertility Benefits Could Be Affected by Alabama Supreme Court's Embryo Ruling
CNN Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"Alabama's Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are children could have an even greater impact on would-be parents in the state -- and elsewhere if other states follow suit -- than it would have just a few years ago. That's because more employers are providing fertility benefits to their workers ... While it's too soon to tell how the court decision will affect employer benefits, it's possible that some companies will have to cover more travel expenses to enable their workers to get treatment in other states." [LePage v. Center for Reproductive Medicine, P.C., Nos. SC-2022-0515, SC-2022-0579 (Ala. Feb. 16, 2024)]

Tags: Health Plan Design

Puerto Rico 2024 Retirement Plan Limits
Willis Towers Watson Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 28, 2024

"Sponsors of retirement plans dual-qualified in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and plans qualified solely in Puerto Rico should update their administrative processes and systems to reflect the 2024 limits."

Tags: Retirement Plan Administration

CRS in Focus: Social Security's Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset
Congressional Research Service [CRS] Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Feb. 28, 2024

"The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) are two separate provisions that reduce regular Social Security benefits for workers and their eligible family members if the worker receives (or is entitled to) a pension based on earnings from employment not covered by Social Security." [IF10203 updated Feb. 28, 2024]

Tags: Social Security  •  State and Local Government Plans

Employers Consider Post-Dobbs Playbook in Dealing with Alabama Ruling on IVF Treatments
Seyfarth Shaw LLP Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"[T]he IRS has not directly addressed the issue of whether cryogenic preservation of an embryo constitutes a qualifying medical expense.... While there is some support for the premise that short-term freezing may be a qualifying expense, there has historically been a debate as to whether long-term storage would qualify. This ruling may shift that debate.... This raises the question of whether an embryo could be a covered dependent under an employer's health plan ... Presumably, covering travel benefits for purposes of initiating IVF treatments outside of Alabama would be a covered benefit for the same reasons as accessing abortion. "

Tags: Health Plan Costs  •  Health Plan Design

Justice Department Opens UnitedHealth Antitrust Probe
The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"The Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation into UnitedHealth, owner of the biggest U.S. health insurer, a leading manager of drug benefits and a sprawling network of doctor groups.... [I]nvestigators have asked about issues including certain relationships between the company's UnitedHealthcare insurance unit and its Optum health-services arm, which owns physician groups, among other assets."

Tags: Health Plan Policy

EBSA Expects to Finalize Voluntary Correction Update Soon
PLANSPONSOR; free registration may be required Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"The [DOL] should be finalizing its proposed update to the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program in 'the next few months,' according to ... Ali Khawar, the principal deputy assistant secretary for EBSA ... Eligible errors would include employee contributions that are invested or loan repayments that are deposited in an untimely manner, provided the cost of error does not exceed $1,000 and is not more than 180 days old. This is believed by EBSA to represent the majority of the fiduciary errors made in plan administration."

Tags: Retirement Plan Administration

Ways to Encourage Younger Generations to Begin Saving for Retirement
Ascensus Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"Provide financial education ... Showcase the value of saving early ... Put retirement savings on autopilot."

Tags: Retirement Plan Administration

Do Your Wellbeing Programs Live Up to Employee Expectations? (PDF)
Buck Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

Infographic. "A majority of employees indicate they want more resources across all dimensions of wellbeing, with financial concerns topping the list, followed by mental health.... On average, employers offer 13 voluntary benefits (up from 11 in 2022), and plan to introduce four more ... A high percentage of employees wish they had a better understanding of their benefits."

Tags: Health Plan Design

How an HSA Contribution Match Can Be a Game Changer
HealthEquity Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"Employees who got a matching contribution not only showed a higher likelihood of putting money into their HSA, but they also contributed significantly more compared to those who only received a seed ... [T]he match approach also saved the organization money, with the employer contributing 42% less compared to the seed-only employer. And because the contribution match encouraged employees to add extra funds to their HSA, they had 24% higher HSA balances than those only getting a seed contribution."

Tags: HSAs  •  Health Plan Costs  •  Health Plan Design

Public Pension Funded Ratio Dips to 77.7% After Flat January Returns
Milliman Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"During January, the ... funded ratio declined slightly, from 78.2% at the end of December to 77.7% as of January 31, 2024.... [T]he plans returned an estimated 0.0% in aggregate for January ... [The] plans lost $11 billion in market value in January, on top of a net negative cash flow of approximately $9 billion, and the gap between assets and liabilities widened $33 billion to $1.389 trillion as of January 31."

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

Pension Rights Center Informs Senate Committee on Solutions to Retirement Crisis
Pension Rights Center [PRC] Link to more items from this source
[Opinion]
Feb. 28, 2024

"[The Pension Rights Center statement] suggested that Congress consider: [1] Redeploying some of the billions of dollars in tax subsidies for retirement plans from high-income taxpayers to low- and middle-income retirement savers. [2] Promoting defined benefit plans and secure hybrid plans ... [3] Creating new protections for pension plan participants and retirees when a plan sponsor transfers liabilities to an insurance company. [4] Safeguarding plan participants and beneficiaries by providing increased protections for spouses in 401(k)s and ensuring that people get conflict-free retirement investment advice ... [5] Exploring new structures to expand coverage for the future."

Tags: Retirement Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Policy

IRS Disaster Relief Announcement CA-2024-02, for Taxpayers Impacted by Severe Storms and Flooding in San Diego, California
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Feb. 28, 2024

"[I]ndividuals and businesses in parts of California affected by severe storms and flooding that began on Jan. 21, 2024 ... now have until June 17, 2024, to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments.... [I]ndividuals and households that reside or have a business in San Diego County qualify for tax relief."

Tags: Health Plan Administration  •  Reporting to Government Agencies  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Senate Panel Advances Su Nomination as Labor Secretary
ThinkAdvisor Link to more items from this source
Feb. 28, 2024

"The Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 11-10 on [February 27] to advance Julie Su's nomination as Labor Secretary ... Su's nomination will now await a floor vote ... Su's previous nomination failed to secure a Senate vote before her nomination was returned to the White House at the conclusion of the first session of the 118th Congress,"

Tags: Health Plan Policy  •  Retirement Plan Policy

Class Action Alleging Violations of ERISA's ESG Investing Rules Survives Motion to Dismiss
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP Link to more items from this source
Feb. 27, 2024

"The court's decision sets a low bar for plaintiffs alleging ERISA claims based on alleged ESG investments in at least two ways ... [1] [T]he court accepts as sufficient plaintiff's allegations that some analyses have found that ESG investments underperform other investments.... [2] [W]hat constitutes an 'ESG fund' apparently can be based on public statements made by investment managers, regardless of whether those statements resulted in actions with respect to any funds at issue or whether any actions actually caused investment underperformance." [Spence v. American Airlines, Inc., No. 23-0552 (N.D. Tex. February 21, 2024) ]

Tags: Fiduciary Duties  •  Retirement Plan Investments - ESG

District Court Endorses ERISA Fiduciary Theory Based on ESG Proxy Voting and Engagement Efforts
Ropes & Gray LLP Link to more items from this source
Feb. 27, 2024

"Ignoring clear precedent requiring factual support for a plausible inference of liability, the court simply accepted the plaintiff's conclusory assertions that ESG-related proxy voting is harmful to investment returns and motivated by social agendas. This conclusion turns a blind eye not only to the established standards for what is required for a viable pleading, but also to another recent decision of the same district court acknowledging that ESG considerations further financial goals." [Spence v. American Airlines, Inc., No. 23-0552 (N.D. Tex. February 21, 2024) ]

Tags: Retirement Plan Investments - ESG

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