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December 16, 2013          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Benetech, Inc.
in GA

Senior Year End Services Specialist
in NJ

401K Account Manager
in PA

401K Client Service Representative
in PA

Year End Services Consultant
in PA

Business Development Specialist
DailyAccess Corporation
in AL, KS, TX

401k/S125 Client Onboarding Manager
in NY

Senior Operations Leader
in PA

Research Project Director
National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO)
in CA

Benefits Manager
Western Southern Financial Group
in OH

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Webcasts and Conferences

ERISA Class Certification: Strategies to Defeat or Certify the Class After Dukes and Comcast
January 28, 2014 WEBCAST

Compliance Outreach Program
January 30, 2014 in DC
(Securities and Exchange Commission)

Compliance and Legal Society Annual Seminar
March 30, 2014 in FL
(Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA))

View All Webcasts and Conferences

  LinkedIn   Twitter   Facebook Hand-picked links to the web's best news articles,
official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.
[Guidance Overview]

IRS Guidance Addresses Expanded In-Plan Roth Conversions and Extends 2013 Amendment Period for Roth Features
"The notice gives plan sponsors and their advisors reviewing year-end amendment requirements welcome relief for amending a plan's Roth features. Keep in mind that once a participant makes a Roth conversion, it is not reversible -- participants who elect in-plan Roth conversions are not permitted to unwind the conversion later as can be done with rollovers to Roth IRAs[.]" (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  


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[Guidance Overview]

IRS Issues Post-ATRA Guidance for In-Plan Roth Rollovers in 401(k), 403(b) and Governmental 457(b) Plans (PDF)
"Notice 2013-74 most importantly addresses questions arising following enactment of ATRA and also addresses some universal IRR issues.... While all potential uncertainties may not have been resolved, the guidance goes a long way to answering some of the most persistent questions that have remained unanswered since ATRA's enactment." (Ascensus)  

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Provides Temporary Nondiscrimination Relief for Closed Defined Benefit Plans
"IRS Notice 2014-5 permits certain employers that sponsor a closed defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan to demonstrate that the aggregated plans comply with the nondiscrimination requirements of IRC Section 401(a)(4) on the basis of equivalent benefits, even if the aggregated plans do not satisfy the current conditions for testing on that basis. The Notice also requests comments on possible permanent changes to the nondiscrimination rules under IRC Section 401(a)(4)." (Practical Law Company)  

Supreme Court Will Review Stock Drop Issues in Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer
"Although the Solicitor General had urged the Court to rewrite the question, the Court did not do so, and instead simply accepted the question as raised by the financial institution.... The Court chose to bypass a second question about the effect on the fiduciary duty of statements that a financial institution had made in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Solicitor General, whose views the Court had sought last March, said that there was no conflict among lower courts on that question." (SCOTUSblog)  

Supreme Court Takes Case About Company Stock Funds and Presumption of Prudence
"The Supreme Court's decision to grant certiorari suggests that the Supreme Court will resolve the current division among circuit courts regarding the application of the 'presumption of prudence' in employer stock cases -- in particular, whether the parties must engage in expensive discovery before plaintiffs' claims will be addressed by the courts." [Dudenhoeffer v. Fifth Third Bancorp, 692 F.3d 410 (6th Cir. 2012) (McDermott Will & Emery)  

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Moench Presumption Applies to ESOPs and other Employer Stock Cases
"It will be fascinating to see the position the plaintiffs take on this question -- they won below, upon application of the Sixth Circuit's standard, which is more plaintiff-friendly than the other Circuits but not nearly as plaintiff-friendly as the position cited in the Solicitor's brief (which would abolish the Moench presumption entirely). So will plaintiffs join the DOL and urge the abolishment of the Moench presumption, or stick with the 'middle ground' carved out by the Sixth Circuit? The Supreme Court will have a number of different paths to choose from." (James E. Arnold & Associates, LPA)  

Supreme Court Accepts Cert in Dudenhoeffer ERISA Moench Presumption of Prudence Case
"The case law had been trending in favor of the presumption of prudence in these stock-drop cases in recent years, with the Sixth Circuit being a notable exception.... [G]iven that the Court granted [certiorari] on the question as presented by the company (and did not re-write the question as requested by the Solicitor General), we may gain some insight.... Phrasing the question presented in such a leading manner suggests only one possible reasonable answer: upholding the presumption of prudence in ERISA stock drop cases." (Paul Secunda for Workplace Prof Blog)  

District Court Order Grants CalPERS Motion for Leave to Appeal to Ninth Circuit on San Bernardino Bankruptcy (PDF)
"While the Court expresses no opinion at this time about the appropriateness of the bankruptcy court's construction of section 109(c)(4) and section 921(c), it finds persuasive CalPERS' argument that substantial grounds for difference of opinion exist on these issues of statutory construction, which are of great public importance." (CalPERS)  

District Court Finds Plan Sponsored by Catholic Hospital Is Not a Church Plan
"The Court 'decline[d] to defer to the IRS's interpretation of the ERISA statute' because the IRS's private letter rulings 'are not entitled to judicial deference.' The result is that 30 years of IRS interpretation is ignored and the Court started from square 1 in interpreting the statute. Second, the Court acknowledged that the position it takes runs contrary to several other courts, however, the Court stated quite explicitly, with specific arguments, why those other decisions were wrong." [Rollins v. Dignity Health, No. C13-1450 TEH (N.D. Cal. Dec. 12, 2013)] (FRA PlanTools, LLC)  

Rising Risk Appetite Among Corporate U.S. Mid-Market Pension Plans, Despite Concerns
"Despite risk management being their top concern and many with closed or frozen pensions, more than half (55%) of U.S. mid-market corporations stated they intend to maintain or increase their current risk profile ... [W]hile the majority of corporate mid-market pensions plan to maintain or increase their risk profile, nearly one-third (30%) plan to implement a de-risking strategy but have not established the criteria (e.g., improvement in funding status, rise in interest rates) for doing so. An additional 15 percent of plans also intend to de-risk, but already have a formal de-risking strategy with established criteria in place." (Fidelity)  

De-Risking of Pension Plans, HR Strategy and the Bottom Line
"While true that numerous executives have fiduciary fatigue and want to spend their time and energies on something other than benefits management, it is not always a given that restructuring or extinguishing a defined benefit plan is the right way to go. Indeed, some sponsors have reinstated their pension offerings in order to retain and attract talented individuals who select employers on the basis of what benefits are offered." (Pension Risk Matters)  

Supreme Court Declines to Review Lockheed Employee Class Action
"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday opted not to hear an appeal filed by Lockheed Martin Corp., which was contesting a class action lawsuit brought by employees. The company wanted the court to throw out the lawsuit filed on behalf of potentially 56,000 employees. The lawsuit claims that Lockheed is liable for poor management of its employee retirement plan under [ERISA]. The case, originally filed in 2006, will now return to an Illinois federal court for further proceedings." (Reuters)  

Mercer US Pension Buyout Index, November 2013
"During November ... the cost of purchasing annuities from an insurer increased from 108.3% to 108.4% while the economic cost of maintaining the liability remained level at 108.2% of the balance sheet liability.... The retiree buyout cost relative to the economic cost of retaining the liabilities remains low with a margin of approximately 20 basis points." (Mercer)  

Training and Recruiting Are Top Worries for Nonprofit Organizations Sponsoring 403(b) Plans
"More than half of all 403(b) sponsor respondents (54.4 percent) expect between 10 and 20 percent of their workforce to retire over the next five years. However, 20 percent of larger organizations (500 or more employees) expect to lose one-fifth of their workforce to retirement. Most are higher educational institutions where a spike in hiring professors in the 1970 and 80s is leading to a significant number of potential retirements in the near future." (Plan Sponsor Council of America [PSCA])  

PBGC Variable Premium vs. Borrow and Fund: The Impact of Higher Premiums
"[PBGC] variable premiums create an incentive for pension sponsors to borrow money and contribute it to their plan -- the higher the PBGC variable premium rate, the stronger the case for borrow-and-fund.... [The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013] further increases variable premiums, to $23/$1,000 in 2015 and $28/$1,000 in 2016 (actually, the 2016 rate will probably be $30 due to wage indexing). In effect, the variable premium will be at least a 2.8% per year charge for 'underfunding.' ... [T]his translates to a breakeven borrowing rate of 7.91% for a borrow-and-fund strategy." (October Three Consulting)  

401(k) Index and Observations Monthly Details: November 2013
"Defined contribution plan participants had average daily transfer activity decline in November compared to October ... On average, 0.024% of total balances transferred daily, slightly below the 12-month daily average of 0.029%. Only two days in November had transfer activity above normal levels.... Total net transfer activity in November amounted to $370 million or 0.24% of total participant balances." (Aon Hewitt)  

Top Ten 401(k) Questions You May Be Too Embarrassed to Ask (Part 2)
"If my mutual fund is losing money, should I stop investing in it? ... What should I do with my old 401(k) account? ... How do I know I'm investing in the right funds? ... When I retire, is there a minimum amount I am obliged to withdraw from my retirement accounts per year? ... What is an expense ratio?" (Smart401k)  


The Hidden Danger in Public Pension Funds
"Meager yields leave America's enterprising public-pension plan managers with a choice: Accept a lower return-forcing higher taxpayer contributions -- or take on more risk to keep 8% returns flowing. [The author's] estimate, based on Treasury yields and analysis from economists at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is that a pension today must build a portfolio with a standard deviation -- how much returns vary from year-to-year -- of 14%. Such high volatility means that a fund would suffer losses roughly one out of every four years." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  


Tackling Quebec's Pension Deficits?
"Clearly Quebec City and Montreal can't afford the status quo. Pension payments are draining their city coffers. They need to follow New Brunswick and move to a shared risk model for their defined benefit plans[.]" (Pension Pulse)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

2014 Reporting and Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Pension and Welfare Benefit Plans
"The latest version of this annual publication summarizes the 2014 reporting and disclosure requirements of the [ACA, HHS, DOL, IRS and PBGC] of interest to sponsors of multiemployer plans.... [It] lists and describes the forms, schedules and notices that must be filed with each organization for which plan types and by what deadlines. It also indicates who must file and whether copies must be provided to participants." (Segal)  

[Guidance Overview]

2014 Reporting and Disclosure Calendar for Single-Employer Pension and Welfare Benefit Plans
"Sibson Consulting's 2014 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans summarizes compliance requirements for qualified, single-employer benefit plans." (Sibson Consulting)  

Text of Supreme Court Opinion Upholding Statute of Limitations Stated in Plan Document (PDF)
"A plan participant's cause of action under ERISA 502(a)(1)(B) ... does not accrue until the plan issues a final denial. But it does not follow that a plan and its participants cannot agree to commence the limitations period before that time.... It is also unlikely that enforcing limitations periods that begin to run before the internal review process is exhausted will endanger judicial review. To the extent that administrators attempt to prevent judicial review by delaying the resolution of claims in bad faith, the penalty for failure to meet the regulatory deadlines is immediate access to judicial review for the participant." [Heimeshoff V. Hartford Life and Accident Ins. Co., No. 12-729 (S.Ct. Dec. 16, 2013)] (Supreme Court of the United States)  

Unanimous Supreme Court in Heimeshoff Permits Contractually-Based Statues of Limitations in ERISA Denial of Benefit Cases
"[T]he one part of the decision that seemed fanciful [to this author] was this idea that plan participants and beneficiaries 'agree' with their plans to these [statutes of limitations]. The Court said this with regard to this critical aspect of the case: 'the parties have agreed by contract to commence the limitations period at a particular time.' ... [B]enefit plans are classic contracts of adhesion with usually no bargaining between the parties taking place. It is legal fiction to say that most participants consented to this provision." (Paul Secunda in Workplace Prof Blog)  

Before the Ball Drops for the New Year, Don't Forget to Address These 2013 Employee Benefit Items!
Includes checklists for issues pertaining to Qualified Plans; The Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") -- Repeal of Section 3; Executive Compensation; and Group Health Plan Amendments Due to Health Care Reform. (Benefits Bryan Cave)  

DOL Releases Form 5500 for 2013 Plan Year
"The most noteworthy item here is that all welfare plans must attach a statement regarding Form M-1 Compliance -- even those not required to file Form M-1. While the Troubleshooter's Guide is not new, referencing it in the Instructions seems to be part of a larger effort to reduce filing errors. And remember that this is an informational copy of Form 5500 -- the form is filed electronically using EFAST2." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)  

Volume, Depth of Pay Ratio Comments Highlight Issues the SEC Must Resolve in Final Rule
"[T]he more than 116,000 submissions show that proponents are largely satisfied with the rule while opponents have grave concerns.... The typical submission from proponents, which include labor unions, pension funds and smaller investors, is brief ... praising the pay ratio as another 'additional metric to evaluate say-on-pay votes and other executive compensation issues.' ... Comments from opponents make several consistent suggestions regarding the need for greater flexibility under the rule and question the SEC's estimated costs of implementation in the proposed rule." (HR Policy Association)  

Press Releases

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