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News Items

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 Comments to Senate Finance and HELP Committees on the Multiemployer Pension Recapitalization and Reform Plan (PDF)
American Academy of Actuaries
Dec. 24, 2019

"As part of our preliminary analysis, [the authors] have identified areas where the Proposal has the potential to effectively address weaknesses that are present under current law, without imposing undue practical challenges for plan sponsors. [They] have also identified areas of concern [they] see within the Proposal that may be problematic for plan sponsors, participants, and contributing employers."

Editor's Pick Year-End Challenges and Opportunities: Congress Passes SECURE Act, Cadillac Tax Repeal, and More
Groom Law Group
[Guidance Overview]
Dec. 20, 2019

"The SECURE Act includes almost thirty provisions aimed at encouraging the adoption of employer-sponsored plans and lifetime income options, altering plan distribution rules, easing administrative requirements, improving certain types of defined benefit plans, and more.... [A]number of the provisions are effective with the New Year ... The Act also includes a number of other retirement and health and welfare provisions of interest to employers and service providers."

Editor's Pick Chronological Listing of Effective Dates for SECURE Act Provisions
Business of Benefits
[Guidance Overview]
Dec. 19, 2019

"The SECURE Act will make substantial and highly technical changes to some very specific elements of retirement plan laws ... [S]ome of these effective date provisions have certain caveats and conditions[.]"

Editor's Pick Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims: Managing Litigation Using Plan Provisions
Dec. 19, 2019

"Although there is little, if any, dispute that contractual limitations periods are enforceable, it is important that they be reasonable, be published in the summary plan description, and be included in all benefit denial letters.... [P]lan sponsors are free to draft a plan provision that requires all ERISA claims to be commenced in particular state and/or court.... Because arbitration is generally viewed to be less costly than litigation, plan sponsors may wish to consider the relative pros and cons of arbitration."

Editor's Pick A Compendium of Findings About U.S. Workers, from the 19h Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey (PDF)
Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies
Dec. 19, 2019

122 presentation slides. "Five specific opportunities [for improving retirement security] include: [1] Expand access to workplace retirement plans.... [2] Encourage wider adoption of automatic enrollment by retirement plan sponsors to increase participation rates among workers.... [3] Discourage 'leakage' from retirement accounts in the form of loans and withdrawals ... [4] Raise awareness of the IRS Saver's Credit ... [5] Implement reforms to Social Security to ensure that it is sustainable for future generations."

Editor's Pick DOL Clarifies When Overtime Pay Not Required on Value of Employee Perks
[Guidance Overview]
Dec. 16, 2019

"On December 12, 2019, the [DOL issued] revised regulations clarifying when employers need not pay overtime on perks. The final rule revises the regulations ... to clarify and update the 'regular rate' requirements under section 7(e) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) ... focusing on the types of compensation that employers must include in the overtime calculation."

Editor's Pick Applying the ACA Employer Mandate to Rehired Employees
HUB International
[Guidance Overview]
Dec. 13, 2019

"[W]hen an employee who was full-time leaves and comes back in the same position, are they still full-time or can an employer treat them like a newly hired employee? In other words, the employer has to figure out whether they are a 'continuing' full-time employee or a newly hired employee for purposes of the ACA employer mandate."

Editor's Pick Surprise Billing in Private Health Insurance: Overview and Federal Policy Considerations
Congressional Research Service [CRS]
Dec. 13, 2019

47 pages. "This report discusses selected policy issues that Congress may want to consider as it assesses surprise billing proposals. The report concludes by providing an overview of how surprise billing proposals may affect some combination of insurers, providers, and consumers." [R46116]

Editor's Pick The Role of IRAs in U.S. Households' Saving for Retirement, 2019 (PDF)
Investment Company Institute [ICI]
Dec. 11, 2019

"In mid-2019, 36 percent of US households owned [IRAs]. More than eight in 10 IRA-owning households also had employer-sponsored retirement plan accumulations or had defined benefit plan coverage. All told, more than six in 10 US households had retirement plans through work or IRAs; three-quarters of near-retiree households did.... About six in 10 traditional IRA -- owning households in mid-2019 indicated their IRAs contained rollovers from employer-sponsored retirement plans.... Traditional IRA-owning households with rollovers cite multiple reasons for rolling over their retirement plan assets into traditional IRAs."

Editor's Pick How the Shift to 401(k)s Has Increased Gaps in Retirement Preparedness
Economic Policy Institute
Dec. 11, 2019

"The shift from pensions to account-type savings plans has been a disaster for lower-income, black, Hispanic, non-college-educated, and single workers, who together add up to a majority of the American population. But even among upper-income white college-educated married couples, many do not have adequate retirement savings or benefits.... [This] underscores the importance of preserving and expanding Social Security, defending defined benefit pensions for workers who have them, and seeking new solutions for those who do not."

Editor's Pick Putnam Investments, LLC v. Brotherston: The End of 'Business as Usual' for 401(k) Plans
The Prudent Investment Fiduciary Rules
Dec. 9, 2019

"The predominant invest options in many 401(k) plan continue to be actively managed mutual funds. However, the evidence with regard to the historical performance of actively managed mutual funds shows that the overwhelming majority of actively managed funds are cost-inefficient, not only consistently underperforming comparable passively managed, or index funds, but doing so at a significantly higher price. So much for the three fiduciary requirements of prudence set out in the Restatement."

Editor's Pick Resource Guide for Health and Welfare Plan Nondiscrimination Testing
[Guidance Overview]
Dec. 9, 2019

"Although the various tests include common elements, they can differ in significant respects. This [article] discusses the general principles behind the nondiscrimination tests as well as the specific tests applicable to particular benefits. It's intended to be a consolidated easy-reference document and contains an overview of health and welfare benefit discrimination tests in a summary table."

Editor's Pick Default Electronic Delivery Works: Evidence of Improved Participant Outcomes from Electronic Delivery of Retirement Plan Documents (PDF)
The SPARK Institute
Dec. 5, 2019

50 pages. "Estimates indicate that plan participants could increase their final account balance by 63 percent with modest increases in their deferral rate which provider data indicates can be accomplished with electronic communication nudges and engagement with online tools.... [S]witching to an electronic delivery default would produce $250 to $450 million in aggregate savings annually that would accrue directly to individual retirement plan participants."

Editor's Pick Implementing a Statewide Healthcare Cost Benchmark: How Oregon and Other States Can Build on the Massachusetts Model (PDF)
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Dec. 5, 2019

48 pages. "[This white paper] examines the four state benchmarking programs and offers guidance for other states considering similar programs... [1] An overview of the [Massachusetts] program ... [2] A summary of the 2019 law authorizing the [Oregon] benchmarking program ... [3] An overview of the Delaware and Rhode Island benchmarking programs.... [4] An analysis of seven areas that all benchmarking programs must address based on state goals, local market dynamics, and state resources."

Editor's Pick Navigating the Government Pension Offset Rule for Social Security Spousal Benefits
Nerd's Eye View
Dec. 4, 2019

"While there are stirrings of legislative proposals to eliminate the [Government Pension Offset (GPO)] rule, the population actually affected by these rules is relatively small (approximately 1% of all Social Security beneficiaries in 2018 were affected by the GPO).... [A]dvisors can help their clients by understanding when the GPO needs to be factored into a client’s financial plan, especially given that it the GPO can heavily or fully eliminate Social Security spousal or survivor benefits that they might have otherwise anticipated receiving!"

Editor's Pick A Clear Roadmap to Navigating Your Plan's LDI Challenges
Institutional Investor
Dec. 4, 2019

"In this environment, corporate defined benefit pension plan sponsors pursuing LDI generally turn to the U.S. long bond market to hedge long-term liabilities. A detailed understanding of this $3.5 trillion market is critical for crafting an effective investment strategy.... [1] An active approach to LDI ... [2] Charting the LDI opportunity set ... [3] Questions all plan sponsors should ask."

Editor's Pick 50-State Survey of Telehealth Commercial Payer Statutes (PDF)
Foley & Lardner LLP
Dec. 4, 2019

150 pages. "[C]urrently 42 states and DC maintain some sort of telehealth commercial payer statute.... [T]he quality and efficacy of these laws varies significantly from state to state.... And while telehealth coverage has widely expanded, the same cannot be said for reimbursement/payment parity.... This survey contains pinpoint citations to the governing statutes or rules, but includes only commercial health insurance laws and does not include Medicaid fee for service rules or Medicaid managed care organization laws and rules, which also vary on a state-by-state basis. "

Editor's Pick Retirement Plan Cybersecurity: Don't Assume Outsourced Administration Is Duty-Free
Morgan Lewis
Dec. 3, 2019

"[F]iduciaries could consider utilizing the standard addendum or attachment for data security/processing that the plan sponsor uses for its vendor arrangements. Introducing this addendum or attachment at the request for proposal (RFP) stage would help [1] ensure that service providers are chosen based on more than just price and [2] avoid difficult negotiations later in the contracting process.... [P]lan fiduciaries that already have recordkeeping and other outsourcing agreements in place may consider reviewing and, as practical, renegotiating those agreements to update or add data security requirements."

Editor's Pick Transamerica Annual U.S. Employer Health Care Survey: Employer-Based Health Coverage Strong, With Affordability Concerns
Transamerica Center for Health Studies
Dec. 3, 2019

119 presentation slides. "More companies report providing benefits to part-time employees than ever before.... A majority of companies that provide healthcare benefits (55%) offer at least three health plans, most commonly a PPO and increasingly an HMO.... More than three in four employers (76%) made no changes to healthcare benefits in the past 12 months.... Three in five (62%) employers expect positive changes to health benefits in the next 1-2 years."

Editor's Pick 2019 Year-End Compliance Reminders for Defined Contribution Plans Not Subject to ERISA (PDF)
Dec. 2, 2019

"This information applies to defined contribution plans, such as qualified governmental plans (including 'grandfathered' 401(k) plans), qualified church plans that do not elect to be covered by ERISA ('non-electing church plans'), 403(b) plans, and section 457 plans that are not subject to Title I of ERISA."

Editor's Pick 2019 Year-End Compliance Reminders for Defined Contribution Plans Subject to ERISA (PDF)
Dec. 2, 2019

"This information applies to qualified defined contribution plans and 403(b) plans that are subject to Title I of ERISA. Every year, plan sponsors must make sure their plans meet certain compliance requirements ... This publication identifies the materials you need to review and will help you prepare for year-end."

Editor's Pick New Health Coverage Responsibilities for Employers of Immigrants
Employee Benefits Report
Dec. 2, 2019

"Prior to the new requirement, immigrants who wanted to qualify for an employer-sponsored health plan had to be able to show that they had a green card, permanent resident or citizenship status. ... All refugees, asylum seekers or people on temporary visitor visas now must prove they can obtain health insurance before they receive a visa.... If you hire an employee who is in the process of obtaining a visa, you will need to ensure they comply. "

Editor's Pick Using Online Calculators to Choose Between Traditional and Roth IRAs
The CPA Journal
Dec. 2, 2019

"Many investment planning websites offer calculators that show investors how much they can save for retirement with each type of IRA -- but how useful are they at helping investors choose between them? The authors provide an overview of the different factors that affect this decision and an analysis of how well various online calculators weigh these factors."

Editor's Pick Auto-Enrollment's Long-Term Effect on Retirement Saving (PDF)
T. Rowe Price
Nov. 27, 2019

"401(k) savings plans are increasingly offering auto-enrollment coupled with higher employee default deferral rates. Auto-enrollment almost doubles plan participation and successfully gets participants who might not have otherwise saved, saving. However, it can also result in participants saving less than those who voluntarily opt in and set their own deferral rate. Auto-enrollment combined with auto escalation creates better participation and savings outcomes."

Editor's Pick Compensation Considerations for the Upcoming 2020 Proxy Season
Hunton Andrews Kurth
Nov. 27, 2019

"[1] Adopt an annual grant policy ... [2] Consider a stock-price forfeiture provision to avoid the drag of underwater stock options ... [3] Separate non-employee director equity plan [with] 5% minimum 1 year vesting carve-out ... [4] Separate non-employee director equity plan [with] stockholder approved director compensation ... [5] Director compensation ... [6] Consider increasing the deductibility of compensation ... [7] Increase net withholding."

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