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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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February 6, 2002 - 6,451 subscribers
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COBRA Notice Sent by Certified Mail is Sufficient Even Though Returned
Degruise v. Sprint Corporation (5th Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "The court found that mailing the notice by certified mail--a type of first-class mail--satisfied the plan administrator's obligation to make such a good faith effort. The return of the letter as 'undelivered' did not change the outcome because the plan administrator did not know why the letter was not delivered and was not responsible for the letter's going undelivered." (EBIA Weekly)

Disability Suit Barred Because Filed Too Late After Claim Denial, Despite Subsequent Reconsideration
Stafford v. E.I. DuPont De Nemours (3d Cir. 2002). Excerpt: "Characterizing the plan's practice of reopening cases as 'benevolent,' the court found that the plan had not restarted the statute of limitations (that is, the deadline for filing a lawsuit) by evaluating whether the benefit denial should be reopened.... EBIA Comment: ... we wonder whether the outcome would be the same had the case been decided under the new claims procedure regulations." (EBIA Weekly)

Fourth Circuit Upholds Denial of AD&D Benefits Based on Felony Exclusion
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Welfare benefit plans often contain felony exclusions. This case shows that courts will uphold these provisions where the exclusion is worded clearly and the felonious act contributes in some way to the loss." (EBIA Weekly)

Including Employer-Paid LTD Premiums in Employees' Income Makes Later Benefit Payments Nontaxable
Priv. Ltr. Rul. 200204021 (Oct. 22, 2001). Excerpt: "The employer paid 100% of the LTD insurance premiums. To ensure that disability benefit payments received by participants under the plan would be nontaxable, the employer proposed to include the amount of the premiums in each participant's taxable wages in the year the premiums were paid (in effect, the amount would show up on each participant's Form W-2)." (EBIA Weekly)

Seasonal Benefits Cost Increases Outstrip Wage Hikes, BLS Reports
The most recent Employment Cost Index released by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that benefits costs in private industry continue to rise faster than salaries. According to the BLS's Employment Cost Index-December 2001, benefits costs for private industry workers increased 5.1% for the year ended Dec. 31, 2001, a decrease from 5.6% as of Dec. 31, 2000. (Spencernet)

Opinion: the Health Care Shipwreck
Excerpt: "We can argue as much as we like about single payer, the marketplace and universal coverage or we can sit down and talk about our impending health-care shipwreck." (Kathleen O'Connor in the Seattle Times)

Opinion: Deduction of Long-Term Care Insurance Would Unfairly Benefit Higher-Income Individuals
Excerpt: "A more equitable tax-based approach to the difficult problem of financing long-term care could use a tax credit (rather than a deduction) to subsidize long-term care expenses incurred by low- and middle-income families." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

(Following items are in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)

Five Common Myths About Stock Options
NCEO executive director Corey Rosen dispels these common misconceptions: 'Most People Getting Options Worked for Dot-Coms'; 'OK, Well at Least They Worked for High-Technology Companies'; 'Most People Give Up Pay to Get Options'; 'Options Are Worthwhile Only If Your Company Is Publicly Traded'; and 'Options Are the Last Decade's Compensation." (National Center for Employee Ownership)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Retirement Service Specialists for Constantin Control Associates
Pension Consultant for Mercer Global Advisors
Retirement Plan Inside Telephone Sales for Metavante 401(k) Services
Asst. Pension Administrator for Small, Pure Pension Administration, 35+ Year Old Firm in Atlanta Area
Defined Benefit Administrator for Metavante 401(k) Services
Benefits Manager for AvalonBay Communities, Inc.
Profit Sharing and 401(k) Administrator - Great opportunity! for Goldberg, Swedelson & Associates

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Copyright 2001 BenefitsLink.com, Inc., but you may freely distribute this email newsletter in whole. This newsletter is edited by David Rhett Baker, J.D.