Posts tagged Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation.

Today, the DOL announced publication of a final rule that expands the ability of retirement plans to deliver participant disclosures online or via email by establishing a new, voluntary safe harbor that allows the use of electronic media as a default for participant disclosures. The final rule is in response to the previously reported October, 2019 proposed rule which allowed plan administrators to notify retirement plan participants that required disclosures, such as SPDs, will be posted on a website. Here are some key points of the final rule:

In Notice 2020-29 released on May 12, 2020, the IRS provides expanded options for participants with respect to 2020 mid-year election changes and also provides increased flexibility to apply unused amounts in health FSAs to medical care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020, and unused amounts in dependent care assistance programs to dependent care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020.  Although the temporary relief under Notice 2020-29 was issued in response to the COVID-19 health emergency, the relief is not limited to individuals affected by the pandemic. Specifically:

On May 4, 2020, the IRS issued Q&As on the coronavirus-related distribution and loan provisions added by Section 2022 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). Section 2022 of the CARES Act (discussed in the March Monthly Minute) temporarily:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides broad-spectrum relief for participants and plan sponsors of qualified plans and expanded benefits for participants in group health plans including the following:

  • For defined contribution plans including 401(k) plans, the changes include expanded in-service distribution provisions up to $100,000, relief from early withdrawal penalty taxes, a temporary increase in 401(k) plan loan limits to $100,000, and relief from minimum required distributions for the remainder of 2020. The adoption of any optional provisions may require plan amendment. It appears amendments would not have to be adopted until at least December 31, 2022.
  • There are also special rules related to funding defined benefit plans.
  • There are several provisions that impact group health plan coverage requirements. 

The post below provides a summary of certain changes of particular interest to plan sponsors.

We previously reported on Retirement Plans Committee of IBM et al. v. Larry W. Jander, in our June 2019 newsletter which was an employer stock-drop case from the Second Circuit.

There’s good news and bad news under President Trump’s new spending package, which includes the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (“FCAA”). 

As reported in our June 2019 newsletter, the Ninth Circuit in Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee et al. v. Sulyma addressed when a participant has actual knowledge of a potential fiduciary breach.

Plans and issuers will be required to use the new 2021 Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) template in connection with coverage and plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2021. Updated instructions and other materials are also available on the agencies' websites. Specifically,

  • The new form revises the minimum essential coverage statement to reference the impact on premium tax credit eligibility, and removes the reference to the individual mandate (given the mandate has been effectively eliminated),
  • Likewise, the Uniform Glossary has removed references to the ...

The Seventh Circuit recently issued a stern warning about the importance of strict compliance with ERISA claim review timeframes in holding that the “substantial compliance” standard “does not apply to blown deadlines.” In this case, Fessenden v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co. (7th Cir. 2019), the disability plan administrator issued a decision on review about eight days after the time prescribed by ERISA. In the short time period after the ERISA deadline expired and before the decision on review was rendered, the claimant filed suit as he was deemed to have ...

This year, we have seen a string of COBRA class actions seeking monetary penalties on account of defective COBRA notices. Most recently, in Hicks v. Lockheed Martin, the spouse of a former employee alleged various technical defects in Lockheed’s COBRA notice. Although on its face it appeared to include a good deal of required information, the Lockheed notice allegedly failed to state the COBRA coverage termination date, failed to provide an address to which payment should be sent, and failed to sufficiently identify the plan administrator. And, without this information, the ...

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