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<< Older News Items  |  March 29, 2020

News

Editor's Note: This page is an archive of news items that appear in our daily email newsletters. To automatically receive the latest news items -- plus links to the latest jobs, press releases, webcasts and events -- subscribe to our daily email newsletters.

Editor's Pick Love and Section 409A in the Time of COVID-19
Winston & Strawn LLP Link to more items from this source
Mar. 26, 2020

"Section 409A and non-qualified plan issues ... created by COVID-19 [include] ... [1] Cancellation of non-qualified plan deferrals ... [2] Electing an unscheduled distribution.... [3] Paying annual bonuses by March 15.... [4] Scheduled distributions from a non-qualified plan.... [5] Setting performance goals."

Editor's Pick Answers to Various Questions About the FMLA Amendments and Paid Sick Leave Requirements
Ogletree Deakins Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 25, 2020

"Both new laws apply only to certain covered employers (private employers with fewer than 500 employees, governmental agencies, and schools). These employers need to be ready to provide these leaves starting on April 1, 2020. [This article provides] answers to some frequently asked questions about the FMLA amendments and the new paid sick leave law in addition to recommendations as to how they may be interpreted once the FFCRA is effective."

Editor's Pick Section 409A v. COVID-19: How Employers Can Navigate Nonqualified and Executive Compensation
Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP Link to more items from this source
Mar. 25, 2020

"Section 409A was added to the Internal Revenue Code to restrict the ability of nonqualified plan participants from canceling their deferral elections and accelerating payment. Section 409A and other corporate reforms also restricted the ability to accelerate stock options and revise incentive plan performance goals and payouts.... [W]hen an extraordinary, unforeseen event ... such as COVID-19 comes along, these measures actually could discourage executives and inhibit the ability of the employers to tie pay to performance."

Editor's Pick COBRA FAQ for the COVID-19 Economy
Mintz Link to more items from this source
Mar. 25, 2020

"For medical insurance purposes, can we just continue to treat the furloughed employees as active employees, or must we offer COBRA? ... In light of COVID-19, will the government subsidize COBRA? ... Must I pay for a terminated (or reduced hours) employee’s COBRA coverage? ... May I pay for a terminated (or reduced hours) employee’s COBRA coverage (in full or in part)?  ... May I provide more than 18 months of COBRA coverage to a terminating (or reduced hours) employee?  ... May an employee pay for their COBRA premiums pretax out of severance payments? ... How does COBRA interact with FMLA leave?"

Editor's Pick COVID-19 Executive Compensation FAQs for Employers
Troutman Sanders Link to more items from this source
Mar. 24, 2020

"[1] Can or should companies make adjustments to their annual and long-term incentive plans in light of COVID-19 business impacts? ... [2] We were about to pay our 2019 annual bonuses but want to indefinitely delay payment given financial uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Will that delay cause any legal issues? ... [3] The COVID-19 crisis has caused our stock price to drop dramatically. What impacts could this have on our equity compensation program? ... [4] Can we permit participants to cancel deferral elections and/or receive distributions from our nonqualified deferred compensation plans?"

Editor's Pick Tools to Aid Employers and Employees During COVID-19 Pandemic
Jackson Walker Link to more items from this source
Mar. 24, 2020

"There are a number of other tools in the Code or in employee benefit plans that may assist employers in helping their employees through the disruption of employment and any concurrent economic downturn. Employers making benefits changes in response to an economic downturn need to carefully communicate the change and how it impacts different groups of employees and the distinctions within workforces between furloughed, layoffs, and terminated employees to avoid miscommunication of the impact of the change on different groups of employees."

Editor's Pick Fifty States, Fifty Stories: A Decade of Healthcare Reform Under the ACA (PDF)
Society of Actuaries Link to more items from this source
Mar. 23, 2020

41 pages. "How successful has the ACA been at accomplishing its goals? How have different stakeholders -- such as consumers, insurance companies, regulators, and health care providers -- been affected? Each of these major stakeholders has its own perspectives and interests, so it is helpful to consider what 'success' looks like from differing viewpoints."

Editor's Pick Comprehensive Directory of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) News for Employee Benefit Plans
BenefitsLink Link to more items from this source
Mar. 19, 2020

BenefitsLink presents a cumulative directory of

  • Official guidance issued by IRS, DOL, HHS and other federal agencies
  • Laws and bills from federal, state and local governments.
  • Analysis and explanations published online by law firms, consulting firms and others.
  • Benefits-related items from popular news media and trade publications.

Use the checkboxes and buttons at the top of the directory to narrow the view to either Retirement or Health & Welfare Plans, or to to one or more of the listed types of items.

This directory is updated each day as new items are added.

Editor's Pick Employee Benefits and Furloughs in the Era of COVID-19
Ballard Spahr LLP Link to more items from this source
Mar. 18, 2020

"[K]ey employee benefits issues that employers will need to address as part of a furlough [are:] Health and Welfare Plans: [1] The implementation of an employee furlough does not necessarily mean that health coverage under an employer's group health plan will terminate.... [2] A furlough is not a COBRA qualifying event, unless it results in a loss of group health coverage.... [3] Depending on how long the furlough lasts, employers may need to consider how a furlough in 2020 may affect the determination of full-time employee status for health coverage in the 2021 plan year.... Retirement Plans: ... [1] [To] the extent that employees are not paid during a furlough, they will not be entitled to make pretax, Roth after-tax or traditional after-tax contributions to their retirement plan ... [2] A furlough does not necessarily constitute a severance from employment for retirement plan purposes.... [3] [M]any defined benefit pension plans will experience declines in funded status.... [4] [U]nless and until [IRS] relief is issued, all retirement plans deadlines will continue to apply[.]"

Editor's Pick Text of CMS FAQs on Essential Health Benefit Coverage and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) (PDF)
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Mar. 13, 2020

"Q1: Do the Essential Health Benefits (EHB) currently include coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19? A1: Yes....

"Q2: Is isolation and quarantine for the diagnosis of COVID-19 covered as EHB? A2: All EHB-benchmark plans cover medically necessary hospitalizations. Medically necessary isolation and quarantine required by and under the supervision of a medical provider during a hospital admission are generally covered as EHB....

"Q3: When a COVID-19 vaccine is available, will it be covered as EHB, and will issuers be permitted to require cost-sharing? A3: A COVID-19 vaccine does not currently exist. However, current law and regulations require specific vaccines to be covered as EHB without cost-sharing, and before meeting any applicable deductible, when the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends them. Under current regulations, if ACIP recommends a new vaccine, plans are not required to cover the vaccine until the beginning of the plan year that is 12 months after ACIP issues the recommendation. However, plans may voluntarily choose to cover a vaccine for COVID-19, with or without cost-sharing, prior to that date."

Editor's Pick IRS EP Issue Snapshot: Plan Loan Cure Period
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 13, 2020

Mar. 12, 2020. "This snapshot discusses common scenarios involving the cure period.... Audit Tips: [1] Review the plan document to determine if the plan allows participant loans. [2] Does the plan document allow for a cure period? If so, what is the duration of the cure period? [3] Review the loan agreement to verify that the repayment terms meet the level amortization requirement of IRC Section 72(p)(2)(C). [4] Is there an adequate accounting for participant loans?"

Editor's Pick IRS EP Issue Snapshot: Design-Based Safe Harbor Plan Compensation
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 13, 2020

Mar. 12, 2020. "Reviewer Tips: Review the plan document to determine if the plan's compensation definition automatically satisfies IRC Section 414(s), by meeting one of the safe harbors ... If it does not, [1] on a determination case where the applicant has elected to have the plan reviewed as a design-based safe harbor, secure either an amendment to the plan, or a revised Form 5300 changing this election request to the negative.... [2] on an examination where nondiscrimination in the amount of employer-provided benefit is being evaluated, secure and review a compensation inclusion test. If the compensation inclusion test is not passed, an employer cannot claim reliance on a design-based safe harbor, and plan benefits would have to pass the general test for nondiscrimination."

Editor's Pick Health Insurance Providers Respond to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP] Link to more items from this source
Mar. 13, 2020

"While most reported cases of COVID-19 are in other countries, the number of cases in the United States continues to increase. Here are some ways health insurance providers are taking action[.]' [Page includes summary of COVID-19 coverage being provided by approximately 50 health insurance providers, and includes links to each insurer"s website for further details.]

Editor's Pick HIPAA Training for Employers (PDF)
ABD Insurance & Financial Services Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 12, 2020

60 presentation slides cover HIPAA Portability, and HIPAA Privacy and Security, for employers.

Editor's Pick Text of DOL Q&As on COVID-19 or Other Public Health Emergencies and the Family and Medical Leave Act
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Mar. 11, 2020

11 Q&As, including: 

  • Can an employee stay home under FMLA leave to avoid getting pandemic influenza?
  • What legal responsibility do employers have to allow parents or care givers time off from work to care for the sick or children who have been dismissed from school? 
  • May employers send employees home if they show symptoms of pandemic influenza? Can the employees be required to take sick leave? Do they have to be paid? May employers prevent employees from coming to work?
  • May employers change their paid sick leave policy if a number of employees are out and they cannot afford to pay them all? 
  • If an employer temporarily closes his or her place of business because of an influenza pandemic and chooses to lay off some but not all employees, are there any federal laws that would govern this decision?
  • What types of policy options do employers have for preventing abuse of leave?
Editor's Pick Text of IRS Notice 2020-15: High Deductible Health Plans and Expenses Related to COVID-19 (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Mar. 11, 2020

"[T]his notice provides that, until further guidance is issued, a health plan that otherwise satisfies the requirements to be a high deductible health plan (HDHP) under section 223(c)(2)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) will not fail to be an HDHP under section 223(c)(2)(A) merely because the health plan provides health benefits associated with testing for and treatment of COVID-19 without a deductible, or with a deductible below the minimum deductible (self only or family) for an HDHP. Therefore, an individual covered by the HDHP will not be disqualified from being an eligible individual under section 223(c)(1) who may make tax-favored contributions to a health savings account (HSA)."

Editor's Pick Society of Actuaries Research Brief: Impact of Coronavirus COVID-19 (PDF)
Society of Actuaries Link to more items from this source
Mar. 11, 2020

16 pages. "The result in February and March 2020 ha s been one where a confluence of risks has come together. Morbidity, mortality, asset/liability management and operational risks are all a part of the initial and evolving story. This Society of Actuaries Research Brief has been constructed to highlight some of the key features of the epidemic and contemplate the risks for the actuarial profession to consider in their work."

Editor's Pick Projecting Dynamic Retirement Goals by Retirement Date Not Wealth
Nerd's Eye View Link to more items from this source
Mar. 11, 2020

"[D]ynamic time-oriented reporting (as contrasted with traditional deterministic wealth-oriented reporting), when coordinated with flexible retirement goals, can help clients understand not just the timeframe required to complete a goal, but also how different factors (e.g., a delay -- or acceleration -- in retirement date, the costs associated with reaching the goal, market variability, etc.) play into and trade off with each other in reaching their goal."

Editor's Pick 2020 Compliance Checklist for Plans That Are Subject to ERISA (PDF)
Prudential Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 10, 2020

44 pages. "The Compliance Checklist incorporates defined benefit (DB), defined contribution (DC) and ERISA 403(b) requirements and provides information on the materials that you will need to file, filing due dates and agencies to which the filings should be made."

Editor's Pick 2020 Compliance Checklist for Plans That Are Not Subject to ERISA (PDF)
Prudential Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 10, 2020

20 pages. "The Compliance Checklist incorporates requirements for governmental and nonelecting church plans, non-ERISA 403(b) plans, 457 plans and nonqualified executive benefit plans, and provides information on the materials that you will need to file, filing due dates and agencies to which the filings should be made."

Editor's Pick Coronavirus/COVID-19 Considerations for Health Plans
HUB International Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 10, 2020

"[W]aiving cost sharing, as some states have done, could potentially be an issue for individuals enrolled in [an HDHP with an HSA].... [If] the employer learns of the employee's medical information, condition, diagnosis etc. through the health plan, then that information is likely protected under HIPAA.... [P]utting employees on leave (whether because they have contracted the virus or as a preemptive measure) ... could have [ACA] employer mandate implications for employers subject to the mandate.... [If] an employee is in a stability period when they go on leave, their coverage will likely have to continue during the period of the leave[.]"

Editor's Pick Use of Individual Medicare Marketplaces for Public Sector Retiree Health Care: A Guide for Elected Officials (PDF)
Center for State & Local Government Excellence Link to more items from this source
Mar. 10, 2020

13 pages. "Rising retiree health care costs and changes in accounting standards are making unfunded liabilities more prominent, and states and localities are taking a variety of actions to mitigate these costs.... the purpose of this report is to provide elected and appointed officials with a basic understanding of an individual Medicare marketplace. Also known as an individual Medicare exchange, this is a model that some state and local governments are adopting with noticeable savings."

Editor's Pick A Guide for Widows: Five Steps for Navigating the Financial Challenges (PDF)
Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement [WISER] Link to more items from this source
Mar. 6, 2020

24 pages. "The first step in making a workable financial plan for the long term is to identify all sources of income -- both your own and those from your spouse, such as Social Security benefits, Veterans Benefits employer pensions and savings plans, earnings and income from work, home equity, and life insurance. Additionally, determine whether each source of income is a regular payment (like a Social Security benefit) or is a lump-sum (like a single payout from life insurance), and whether or not the regular payment is indexed to inflation and will increase over time."

Editor's Pick Divorce and Retirement: How to Take Control of Retirement Benefits (PDF)
Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement [WISER] Link to more items from this source
Mar. 6, 2020

24 pages. "One practical issue that women often fail to make a priority is getting a fair share of retirement assets. Retirement funds may be among the biggest assets you have as a couple. It's important to know that these funds are not automatically split in a divorce.... Don't gloss over this issue -- it could mean the difference between comfort and teetering on the edge once you reach retirement age."

Editor's Pick Proposed Price Transparency Rules for Health Care Plans: What Employers Need to Know About Required Disclosures
Thompson Coburn LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Mar. 6, 2020

"The information required to be disclosed falls into seven categories. [1] Estimated cost-sharing liability ... [2] Accumulated amounts ... [3] Negotiated rates ... [4] Out-of-network allowed amount ... [5] Items and services content list ... [6] Notice of prerequisites to coverage ... [7] Disclosure notice ... Methods for disclosing cost-sharing liability ... Delegation of cost-sharing disclosure duties for insured plans."


<< Older News Items  |  March 29, 2020
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