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November 30, 2012          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

401k Annuity Product Manager
for Futurity First Insurance Group in CT

Defined Benefit / Defined Contribution Pension Administrator
for Mercer Advisors in AZ

401(k) Plan Administrator
for Consulting Actuarial Group, Inc. in IL

Inside Sales Consultant
for Aspire Financial Services in CO

Investment Consulting Senior Manager
for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. in OH

Retirement Education Consultant
for Charles Schwab in TX

Retirement Client Service Team Manager
for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. in AZ

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Webcasts and Conferences

Employee Plans Phone Forum on Hurricane Sandy
Nationwide on December 11, 2012 presented by Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Skin in the Game: How Consumer-Directed Health Plans Can Affect the Cost and Use of Health Care Briefing
in District of Columbia on December 10, 2012 presented by RAND Corporation

Year End Wrap-up
in Ohio on December 13, 2012 presented by ASPPA Benefits Council of Cleveland

View All Webcasts and Conferences

We also publish the BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter (free): Subscribe


[Official Guidance]

IRS Employee Plans News, November 29, 2012 (PDF)
December 11, 2012 issue. Articles include: [1] Section 436 amendment deadline extended for defined benefit plans; [2] Governmental plans can elect second Cycle E (instead of second Cycle C); [3] Amending governmental plans participating in group trusts; and [4] Phone forum on plan loans and hardship distributions to Sandy victims. (Internal Revenue Service)


NEW! Introducing ASPPA's Specialized Defined Benefits Education

Sponsored by ASPPA

The Defined Benefit Administration (DBA) Certificate is for entry level to intermediate DB administrators who want to expand their skill set into consulting & basic actuarial skills. Earn up to 7 ASPPA & ERPA continuing professional education credits.

[Official Guidance]

PBGC Update: Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans; Valuation of Benefits and Assets; Expected Retirement Age (PDF)
"This rule amends the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's regulation on Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans by substituting a new table for determining expected retirement ages for participants in pension plans undergoing distress or involuntary termination with valuation dates falling in 2013. This table is needed in order to compute the value of early retirement benefits and, thus, the total value of benefits under a plan." (PBGC)

[Guidance Overview]

Puerto Rico Treasury Department Announces Deadline Extension for PR Code Qualified Plan Amendments and Filings (PDF)
"CL 12-09 extends the period to amend a Puerto Rico tax qualified plan (either PR-Only or Dual-Qualified Plans) for compliance with the 2011-PR Code until the later of: (i) June 30, 2013, or (ii) the last day of the first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2012 (e.g., October 31, 2013 for plan with a plan year beginning on November 1, 2012). In addition, CL 12-09 also extends the period to submit a request for retroactive qualification under the Puerto Rico Internal Revenue Code of 1994, as amended, for both PR-Only or Dual-Qualified Plans, until the later of: (i) September 30, 2013, or (ii) the deadline to file the income tax return of the employer for the first taxable year commencing after December 31, 2011." (Groom Law Group)

Judge OKs Big Pension, Health Care Changes for Michigan Teachers and Other School Workers
"A judge ... upheld most of an overhaul of Michigan's retirement system for public school workers ... [rejecting] broader challenges from teachers unions that Public Act 300 is rife with unconstitutional provisions and contract violations affecting retirement benefits.... [N]ot allowing the law to take effect would cost the state and K-12 schools nearly $200 million in anticipated savings this budget year. About $30-$40 million in savings already are gone because of the two-month delay." (mLive.com)

Hostess Brands Seeks to Cut Retiree Benefits by $1.1 Million
"Hostess Brands Inc.... told a bankruptcy court that it must cut $1.1 million a month in retiree benefits as part of its liquidation plan. [A] Bankruptcy Judge ... approved formation of a committee of retired employees to defend their rights in connection with the intended cuts. [The judge] is also being asked to consider Hostess's request to close and its bid to pay as much as $1.75 million in incentive bonuses to 19 senior managers during the company's wind-down." (Bloomberg)

Verizon Management Retirees Sue to Stop Pension Annuitization
"Verizon Communications Inc. management retirees [are] seeking to halt the pension buyout deal Verizon purchased from Prudential Insurance Co. of America.... The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Dallas, said the pension annuity deal violates ERISA law. Retirees claim the annuity contract 'wipes out the federally insured pension safety net provided by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.,' according to a news release from the Association of BellTel Retirees, an advocate group for retirees from six companies, including Verizon." (Pensions & Investments)

DOL Sues to Recover Losses to ESOP for Allegedly Purchasing Overvalued Stock
"The [DOL] has filed a lawsuit to recover losses suffered by participants in the Maran Inc. Employee Stock Ownership Plan after the plan was allowed to purchase overvalued company stock.... The suit alleges that First Bankers Trust Services violated the [ERISA] when, in late 2006, it approved the ESOP's purchase of 49 percent of the outstanding stock of Maran Inc. for approximately $71 million, which was more than fair market value. As a result, ESOP participants suffered significant losses." (Employee Benefits Security Administration)

Should My Company Borrow Money to Make Larger DB Plan Contributions?
"In 2015, the [PBGC] variable rate premium will increase to $18 per $1,000 of unfunded vested liability. In effect, the variable premium will be a 1.8% per year charge for 'underfunding.' A sponsor can avoid that charge by, e.g., borrowing an amount sufficient to fund the defined benefit plan's unfunded vested benefits (UVB). What is the tradeoff -- at what interest rate (and rate of return and other variables) does it become financially 'worth it' to borrow and fund rather than continue to pay the PBGC variable premium?" (October Three)

Accounting for Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits, 2012 (PDF)
"For FY 2011, the discount rate used to calculate the present value of pension obligations ranges from 3.50% to 6.30%. The expected rate of return on pension plan assets ranges from 3.10% to 10%. The average value of the expected rate of return is 7.70%. At the end of 2011, 72% of companies had projected benefit obligation (PBO) funded status of less than 80%. This represents a worsening in funded status from the prior year." (Towers Watson)

DOL Clarifies Interpretation of 'Related' for Purposes of QPAM Exemption
"The [DOL] recently issued an information letter, dated November 9, 2012 ... in which it confirms that, for all purposes of determining what parties are 'related' to a qualified professional asset manager ... under Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption 84-14 [the QPAM exemption], only direct ownership interests, and not indirect ownership, should be considered.... The Information Letter ... confirms that the reasoning of Advisory Opinion 2011-06A indeed applies to situations in which there is indirect common ownership, so that even if one party has an interest in another party of 20% or more but that interest is only indirect (that is, the parties are under common control but neither controls or is controlled by the other) the parties should not be related for purposes of the QPAM Exemption." (Dechert LLP)

Hodgson Russ Employee Benefits Developments, November 2012
Articles include: [1] Hurricane Sandy Relief Provided; [2] IRS Addresses Wage Recharacterization in Expense Reimbursement Plans; [3] Stock Drop Case Updates; [4] Plan Not Required to Restore 401(k) Funds Fraudulently Withdrawn by Ex-Wife; and [5] 7th Circuit Holds ERISA's Anti-Retaliation Provision Covers Informal Complaints. (Hodgson Russ LLP)

Governmental Individually Designed Retirement Plans Given More Time to Restate Documents
"If a plan is individually designed, the five year cycle generally applies according to the sponsor's EIN. Governmental plans are one of the exceptions to this rule. If a governmental plan is individually designed, it would normally fall into cycle C and current plans would need to be restated during the one-year window ending on January 31, 2014.... Under Revenue Procedure 2012-50, the deadline for governmental individually designed plans to restate is extended to January 31, 2016." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business / ftwilliam.com)

Recruiters Divided Over FINRA Compensation Disclosure Rules
"'The Board will consider a proposed rule that would require disclosure to transferring customers of recruitment compensation packages offered to induce registered representatives to move from one firm to another,' FINRA said.... Even the perception this is coming up for discussion once again could make advisors sweat[.]" (On Wall Street)


CalPERS and the Constitution: A Looming Confrontation?
"The fund cited its 'police powers' as an instrument of the state of California and asserted that it's not even obliged to ask the court to lift the stay on litigation. It said it was only filing the motion 'out of an abundance of caution.' Calpers held out the prospect of terminating its relationship with San Bernardino, which would leave the city $319.5 million in the hole. And the pension fund also included several references to its powers under the California constitution. Though the motion addresses only San Bernardino's missed payments and not the city's long-term plan to pay its debt to Calpers, the brief can be read as bait by someone who is looking for a fight." (ThomsonReuters)


Decoding The Fiscal Cliff
"The argument of this article is that there are already enacted a considerable number of new tax measures that will begin to fall in 2013 only on the very taxpayers who are in the President's target area, thus accomplishing Obama's goal and greatly reducing the principal obstacle to the negotiators averting the fiscal cliff.... [Two] increases in the Medicare tax go into effect next year under the health care reform law ... Nothing of these two appears to have been mentioned in the public prints or TV talk shows, or even in statements by the GOP leadership, in connection with the fiscal cliff issue; but these two tax increases properly should be included among the tax jumps in 2013 that build up the cliff just as certainly as the elimination of the Bush tax savings [and] the Budget Control spending cuts: [1] A 0.9 percent rise in the Medicare portion of the self employment tax, from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent on earnings in excess of $250,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separately, and $200,000 for all other taxpayers; and [2] A tax on what is termed in the law Net Investment Income[.]" (Alvin D. Lurie, Esq. on BenefitsLink.com)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

SEC Extension of Comment Period for Rule Changes Proposed by NSX Relating to Adoption of Listing Standards for Compensation Committees and Advisors (PDF)
"The proposed rule change was published for comment in the Federal Register on October 17, 2012. The Commission received no comment letters on this proposal.... Accordingly, the Commission ... designates January 15, 2013, as the date by which the Commission should either approve or disapprove or institute proceedings to determine whether to disapprove this proposed rule change." (Securities and Exchange Commission)

[Official Guidance]

SEC Extension of Comment Period for Rule Changes Proposed by CHX Relating to Adoption of Listing Standards for Compensation Committees and Advisors (PDF)
"The proposed rule change was published for comment in the Federal Register on October 16, 2012. The Commission received no comment letters on this proposal. Accordingly, the Commission ... designates January 14, 2013, as the date by which the Commission should either approve or disapprove or institute proceedings to determine whether to disapprove this proposed rule change." (Securities and Exchange Commission)

[Official Guidance]

SEC Extension of Comment Period for Rule Changes Proposed by 7 Listing Exchanges Relating to Adoption of Listing Standards for Compensation Committees and Advisors
"The proposed rule changes were published for comment in the Federal Register on October 15, 2012. The Commission received six comment letters on the NYSE proposed rule change, seven comment letters on the NASDAQ proposed rule change, and one comment letter on the NYSE Arca proposed rule change. The Commission received no other comment letters for any of the other Exchanges' proposed rule changes. Accordingly, the Commission ... designates January 13, 2013, as the date by which the Commission should either approve or disapprove or institute proceedings to determine whether to disapprove these proposed rule changes." [Applies to Rules proposed by BATS Exchange, Inc.; NASDAQ OMX BX Inc.; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; New York Stock Exchange LLC; NYSE Arca LLC; and NYSE MKT LLC.] (Securities and Exchange Commission)

Section 409A 'Release-Timing' and Other Year-End Compensation-Planning Issues
"In anticipation of widely expected increases in income, FICA and long-term capital gains tax rates starting in 2013, many companies are exploring ways to accelerate into 2012 income that would otherwise be recognized in 2013 or later, particularly for executives and other highly compensated employees. It is crucial that companies exploring acceleration of compensation keep the restrictions of Section 409A in mind." (McGuire Woods LLP)

Cypen & Cypen Newsletter for November 29, 2012
Covers employee benefit developments with an emphasis on governmental plans. Topics in this issue include: [1] Florida Appellate Court Extends "Catch-all" Provision of Pension Forfeiture Law; [2] Financial Risk Tolerance of Younger Households Rebounded From Crisis; [3] 2013 Standard Mileage Rates Up 1 Cent Per Mile for Business, Medical and Moving; and [4] High-yield Strategies Have Bordered on Spectacular -- So Far. (Cypen & Cypen)

The Wagner Law Group ERISA Newsletter, November 2012
Articles include: [1] IRS Releases 2013 Limits for Welfare Benefit Plans; [2] PPACA: What Should Employers Do Next? [3] IRS Issues Guidance on Salary Reduction Contribution Limits for Health FSA's; [4] IRS' New COBRA Audit Guidelines; [5] HIPAA Audit Protocols; and [5] Massachusetts Enacts Health Care Reform Legislation. (The Wagner Law Group via 401 (k) Advisor)

Press Releases

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