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<< Older News  |  November 26, 2020

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All News > Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Text of Updated IRS FAQs: Determining the Amount of the FFCRA Tax Credit for Qualified Family Leave Wages
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Nov. 25, 2020

Questions 25-30, updated Nov. 25, 2020.

  1. What is included in 'qualified family leave wages'? Do 'qualified family leave wages' include taxes imposed or withheld from the wages?
  2. How much credit may an Eligible Employer receive for qualified family leave wages
  3. How does an Eligible Employer determine the amounts of the qualified family leave wages it is required to pay?
  4. What is the rate of pay for qualified family leave wages?
  5. Are amounts other than qualified family leave wages included in the tax credit for required paid family leave?
  6. Is a similar tax credit available to self-employed individuals?

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FFCRA  •  FMLA and Other Leave

Text of Updated IRS FAQs: Determining the Amount of Allocable Qualified Health Plan Expenses for Purposes of Coronavirus Economic Impact Payments
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Nov. 25, 2020

Questions 31-36, updated Nov. 25, 2020.

  1. Does the amount of qualified health plan expenses include both the portion of the cost paid by the Eligible Employer and the portion of the cost paid by the employee?
  2. For an Eligible Employer that sponsors more than one plan for its employees (for example, both a group health plan and a health flexible spending arrangement (health FSA)), or more than one plan covering different employees, how are the qualified health plan expenses for each employee determined?
  3. For an Eligible Employer that sponsors a fully-insured group health plan, how are the qualified health plan expenses of that plan allocated to the qualified sick or family leave wages on a pro rata basis?
  4. For an Eligible Employer who sponsors a self-insured group health plan, how are the qualified health plan expenses of that plan allocated to the qualified leave wages on a pro rata basis?
  5. For an Eligible Employer who sponsors a health savings account (HSA), or Archer Medical Saving Account (Archer MSA) and a high deductible health plan (HDHP), are contributions to the HSA or Archer MSA included in the qualified health plan expenses?
  6. For an Eligible Employer who sponsors a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), a health flexible spending arrangement (health FSA), or a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA), are contributions to the HRA, health FSA, or QSEHRA included in the qualified health plan expenses?

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FFCRA  •  Health Plan Costs

Updated Baseline for Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds, Reflecting Pandemic and Recession Effects (PDF)
Chief Actuary, U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA] Link to more items from this source
Nov. 25, 2020

"[On] November 16 the Social Security Administration released publicly what is effectively an updated actuarial valuation by the Office of the Chief Actuary in the Agency Financial Report (AFR) for Fiscal Year 2020. This update accounts for the implications of the pandemic and the recession ... We will be using this updated baseline as an interim baseline starting now and until the issuance of the 2021 Trustees Report next year.... Table 1 attached provides a comparison of the projections of the actuarial status of the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds under the intermediate assumptions of the 2020 Trustees Report and those under the updated interim assumptions. Table 2 provides a comparison of the near-term assumptions under these two baselines."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Social Security

Keeping COBRA Notices Compliant in an Ever-Changing Landscape
Trucker Huss Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Nov. 25, 2020

"This article [describes] what employers should keep in mind while updating their COBRA notices, including [1] recent revisions to the [DOL's] model COBRA notices in May 2020, [2] the mandatory extensions to certain COBRA-related deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and [3] the allegations in the many class-action lawsuits filed over the last few years alleging deficiencies in COBRA notices."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Group Health Plan Sponsors and the COVID-19 Vaccine
Segal Link to more items from this source
Nov. 24, 2020

"There will be a phased-in distribution process initially targeting health care providers and vulnerable groups. Once a vaccine is approved, most group health plans will have to cover it (and related administration costs) within 15 days, at no cost. There are significant legal issues involved in addressing whether employers can mandate that employees receive vaccinations, and there is no guidance at this time on the COVID-19 vaccine."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Employee Leave Can Be Complicated
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article Link to more items from this source
Nov. 24, 2020

"During 2020, much of the focus regarding leave has been on the [FFCRA]. But workers also may be eligible to take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and state and local laws."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FFCRA  •  FMLA and Other Leave

Year-End Compliance Update for Retirement Plans
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article Link to more items from this source
Nov. 24, 2020

"[1] Year-end deadlines ... [2] IRS guidance on birth/adoption withdrawals ... [3] Part-time employee eligibility changes for 401(k) plans ... [4] Pooled Employer Plans ... [5] Coronavirus-related withdrawals ... [6] Coronavirus-related loans from qualified plans ... [7] Waiver of required minimum distributions for 2020 ... [8] Partial plan terminations ... [9] Restatement window for pre-approved defined contribution plans ... [10] Electronic disclosures ... [11] Electronic signatures ... [12] Remote witness of spousal consents."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration  •  Retirement Plan Amendments

Loss of Jobs with Health Coverage During the Pandemic Reveals Significant Industry Differences (PDF)
Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI] Link to more items from this source
Nov. 20, 2020

"Manufacturing workers were most affected by loss of jobs with employer health insurance because manufacturing has one of the highest rates of ESI coverage (66 percent). ... [B]ecause only 40 percent of workers in retail had ESI prepandemic, these workers accounted for 12 percent of lost jobs with ESI."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Editor's Pick 2020 End of Year Plan Sponsor 'To Do' List: Executive Compensation
Snell & Wilmer Link to more items from this source
Nov. 20, 2020

"[1] Last chance to correct certain Section 409A document failures discovered in 2020 ... [2] Nonqualified deferred compensation deferral elections should be made on or before December 31, 2020 ... [3] Take certain action to address impact of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Section 162(m) ... [4] Certain nonqualified deferred compensation plans must be amended before December 31, 2020 ... [5] Code Section 6039 information statements due by January 31, 2021 ... [6] Restore COVID-19 related salary reductions before March 15, 2021 ... [7] Revisit other COVID-19 related compensation decisions."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Executive comp

Editor's Pick PBGC to Allow Contributions Made by January 4, 2021 to Count for 2020 PBGC Variable-Rate Premium
October Three Consulting Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Nov. 19, 2020

"[This] possibility may be significant for, e.g., employers who want to make a CARES Act contribution that reduces 2020 variable-rate premiums but would like to deduct that contribution in 2021.... [S]ome sponsors can reduce 2020 PBGC variable-rate premiums by accelerating 2021 quarterly contributions to January 4, 2021. Under this strategy, the sponsor, in effect, takes the amount of contributions required to be made for 2021 and contributes it for 2019."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  PBGC  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Navigating the COBRA Deadline Extension
Cohen & Buckmann, P.C. Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Nov. 18, 2020

"Earlier this year, the COBRA notice, election and premium payment deadlines were extended from March 1 until 60 days after the end of the ongoing COVID-19 national emergency.... [T]he IRS and EBSA have not addressed whether administrators should correct previously sent COBRA election notices. The fact that COBRA election notices are not required until the end of the extension period suggests that interim corrections are not required. However, while the usual statutory penalties for COBRA violations should not apply, failing to notify COBRA qualified beneficiaries of their rights may increase the likelihood of a breach of fiduciary duty claim."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Do Defaults Limit Consumer Response to Rainy-Day Funds? Evidence from 401(k) Participants During the COVID-19 Pandemic
David Blanchett, Michael S. Finke, and Zhikun Liu, via SSRN Link to more items from this source
Nov. 18, 2020

"Using a large database of 401(k) plan participants, [the authors] estimate the probability that a worker will contact a recordkeeper about initiating a distribution from their retirement account following passage of the [CARES Act]. Self-directed workers in occupations with high subsequent unemployment were more likely to call about withdrawing funds from their account than workers in delegated investment accounts. Workers defaulted into target-date funds and those who chose to delegate investments through a managed account were both less likely to contact the recordkeeper about making a post-CARES Act distribution."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration

How Do Furloughed Employees Impact Our Plan at Year-End?
DWC Link to more items from this source
Nov. 17, 2020

"As a general rule, furloughed employees are not considered to be terminated from employment. In essence, they are active employees who aren't 'on the schedule.' However, there are some states that apply timeframes after which a furloughed employee is deemed to be terminated if he or she has not yet returned to work.... There are four [retirement plan issues]: [1] Crediting service for eligibility and vesting, [2] Eligibility for a company contribution, [3] Coverage testing; and [4] Partial plan termination determinations."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Text of Updated PBGC Technical Update 20-2: Extended Due Date for Inclusion of Prior Year Contributions
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Nov. 17, 2020

Revised Nov. 16, 2020, to conform with IRS Notice 2020-82. "For premium filings due on or after March 1, 2020 and before January 1, 2021, the date by which prior year contributions must be received by the plan to be included in plan assets under Section 4006.4(c) of PBGC's premium rates regulation is extended to January 4, 2021. Because of this relief, the discounted value of a 'prior year contribution' received after the premium is filed and on or before January 4, 2021, may be included in the asset value used to determine the variable-rate premium. Thus, if such a contribution is made, the premium filing may be amended to revise the originally reported asset value and resulting variable-rate premium." [Also see COVID-19-Related Single-Employer Plan Sponsors and Administrators FAQs, updated Nov. 16, 2020]

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  PBGC  •  Retirement Plan Administration

COVID-19 Tests: Price Gouging Continues
America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP] Link to more items from this source
Nov. 17, 2020

"The average cost of a COVID-19 test in the commercial market is $130. In contrast, out-of-network cost [is] more than $185 for nearly half of diagnostic tests and a third of antibody and antigen tests. This represents a 10% increase in the share of high cost diagnostic and antibody tests since July. The share of COVID-19 tests administered out-of-network increased by 14%. As much as 16% of out-of-network test claims were more than $390 -- three times the average cost."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs

403(b) Plan Issues When Bringing Back Laid Off or Furloughed Employees
PLANSPONSOR; free registration may be required Link to more items from this source
Nov. 17, 2020

"[1] Service crediting ... [2] Employer contributions ... [3] Employee contributions ... [4] Plan distributions."

Tags: 403(b) Plans and Annuities  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Steps to Rebuilding Your Retirement Plan Savings
MassMutual Link to more items from this source
Nov. 17, 2020

"[M]ore than 27 percent of those working or recently unemployed [have] taken a withdrawal from their retirement savings accounts this year ... [N]early 1 in 5 Americans are contributing less to their retirement account now than before the COVID-19 crisis began.... [C]onsider the following steps: [1] Take advantage of relaxed repayment rules. [2] Put your payments on autopilot. [3] Reduce expenses to free up savings. [4] Supplement your income."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Information for Employees

Editor's Pick Building Better Retirement Systems in the Wake of the Global Pandemic
Olivia S. Mitchell, via SSRN Link to more items from this source
Nov. 17, 2020

"In the wake of the global pandemic known as COVID-19, retirees, along with those hoping to retire someday, have been shocked into a new awareness of the need for better risk management tools to handle longevity and aging. This paper offers an assessment of the status quo prior to the spread of the coronavirus, evaluates how retirement systems are faring in the wake of the shock ... [and examines] insurance and financial market products that may render retirement systems more resilient for the world's aging population. Finally, potential roles for policymakers are evaluated."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Policy

Text of IRS Notice 2020-82: Implementation of the CARES Act's Extended Due Date for Contributions to Defined Benefit Plans (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Nov. 16, 2020

"This notice provides that the IRS will treat a contribution to a single-employer defined benefit pension plan with an extended due date of January 1, 2021 pursuant to Section 3608(a)(1) of the [CARES Act], as timely if it is made no later than January 4, 2021 (which is the first business day after January 1, 2021)."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Funding of DB Plans  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Group Health Plan Coverage of COVID-19 Testing and Vaccines
HUB International Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Nov. 16, 2020

"Since this is a mandate, stop-loss carriers should cover these claims, but employers will want to work with their stop-loss carrier to confirm. Individual claims for testing are unlikely to trigger an individual stop-loss deductible/attachment point, but a large volume of tests, combined with other claims, may exceed an aggregate deductible/attachment point."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Administration  •  Health Plan Design

What Happens When COBRA Deadlines Become Suggested Time Limits?
Paul M. Hamburger of Proskauer Rose LLP, via HR Daily Advisor Link to more items from this source
[Opinion]
Nov. 16, 2020

"From a public policy perspective, it is ... hard to see how open-ended COBRA notice, election, and premium payment periods are a good thing.... [A]nother way to balance the need for relief with the need for structure would have been to double all the applicable time periods. Perhaps the guidance could have also added another option for adversely affected qualified beneficiaries to request an additional 30 days on top of that if they request relief in a timely fashion."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Steer Clear of Misconceptions About FFCRA Tax Credits
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article Link to more items from this source
Nov. 16, 2020

"The group aggregation rules for determining whether an employer is eligible for the paid-leave tax credits under the FFCRA are the same for determining employer eligibility for other COVID-19-related relief, such as the employee retention credit under the CARES Act.... Employers must choose between claiming tax credits for paid leave under the FFCRA or for wages paid to employees under the employee retention credit, but they may not claim both."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FFCRA  •  FMLA and Other Leave

What We Learned About 401(k) Participant Behavior Amid COVID-19 and the CARES Act
401(k) Specialist Link to more items from this source
Nov. 11, 2020

"Participation and deferral rates remained largely unchanged year-to-date through September when compared with the same period in 2019.... 12% of participants increased their payroll deferral percentage, vs. 14% last year. 7% of participants decreased their payroll deferral percentage, vs. 6% in 2019. 3% of participants stopped contributing, the same as last year. 24% of participants saw deferral rates rise because of automatic increases, compared with 23% in 2019."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Employers to Experience Lower Health Benefit Costs in 2020 Due to COVID-19 Impact
Aon Link to more items from this source
Nov. 11, 2020

"While carrier responses varied significantly, 2020 medical claims are projected to increase at a rate that is on average 5 percentage points lower than initially projected by U.S.-based insurance carriers due to COVID-19 ... [C]arriers forecast COVID-19 will increase U.S. employer medical claims by an additional 2 percentage points on average above normal trends in 2021. This will include costs for care that was postponed or skipped in 2020 as well as COVID-19 prevention and treatment that will be delivered next year."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs

Most Plan Sponsors Not Expecting Delays in Future Pension Buy-Out Activity Due to COVID-19 (PDF)
MetLife Link to more items from this source
Nov. 9, 2020

"Just 19% of plan sponsors interested in an annuity buyout with a specific timeframe in mind reported that the pandemic has decreased or delayed the likelihood of transacting ... A vast majority (81%) said there had either been no change in plans due to COVID-19 (27%), or that the pandemic has actually increased or accelerated the likelihood they would transact (55%)."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Funding of DB Plans


<< Older News  |  November 26, 2020

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