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Category Archives: Plan Administration

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Supreme Court Says Health Benefits Don’t Vest: Contract Principle Apply

Posted in Court Cases, Plan Administration, Welfare Plans

For some time, there has been a question about whether health benefits “vest” under a collective bargaining agreement.   Since neither ERISA nor the National Labor Relations Act actually requires employers to provide health-care benefits, employees typically bargain for health benefits that are then memorialized in a collective bargaining agreement.  Over the course of time, employers … Continue Reading

Employer Offering Coverage: The Multiemployer Plan Problem

Posted in Plan Administration, Welfare Plans

As we move in to the first phase of ACA compliance, a number of employers have been asking me about unionized employees and how they can know whether the employees are “offered” coverage (as required to avoid penalties) when coverage is provided through a multiemployer plan to which the employer contributes.   The concern is that … Continue Reading

Proposed Multiemployer Pension Reform: Don’t Count Your Chickens Before they Pass

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Withdrawal Liability

Employers participating in multiemployer pension plans are in a constant state of hope that some relief is coming from Congress that will reduce or eliminate unfunded liability and do away with withdrawal liability.  So something like Klein -Miller provision in the budget passed by the House of Representatives last night gets some real attention.  Media … Continue Reading

Investment Policy Statements in Retirement Plans: Are They Plan Documents?

Posted in Court Cases, Plan Administration, Retirement Plans

In prior posts, I have discussed the importance of having up-to-date investment policy statements.  Not only are they a good proof of diligence on the part of fiduciaries (assuming they are followed) but they also serve as a sort of check list to verify that appropriate investment options are being offered.  But are they plan … Continue Reading

Can I Have A “Skinny” Plan? ACA and the Minimum Value Plan

Posted in Plan Administration, Welfare Plans

No question that employers have been struggling with how to satisfy the ACA requirements of offering coverage while still avoiding what is perceived to be a heavy burned financially of offering full coverage.  Some employers in this situation have considered offering a new type of plan to full-time employees, called a “minimum value” plan.  From … Continue Reading

Thoughts Post-Election: Don’t Count on Changes to the ACA Until They Actually Happen

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

As soon as the mid-term races were called, I started to get e-mails from people wondering about the potential impact the change to a Republican controlled Congress would have on ACA compliance.  My general response: don’t expect any immediate relief or changes and keep on working toward compliance.  Changes in the law might eventually come, … Continue Reading

IRS Announces Cost of Living Adjustments for Qualified Retirement Plans

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans

Susan Jordan, my partner in Pittsburgh, propvides me with the following: In a news release (IR-2014-99) on October 23, 2014, the IRS announced the cost-of-living adjustments to the various dollar limitations applicable to qualified retirement plans for 2015.  As had been widely predicted, most of the limitations have been increased. 1.         LIMIT ON COMPENSATION:  The … Continue Reading

It’s Not Easy Having Plans: Revising Benefits Can Give Rise to Other Claims

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

As employers continue preparing for health plan changes that take place in 2015 under the ACA, I have been following a number of developments that remind me of the importance of thinking globally with respect to revisions to benefits.  What I mean by that is just because you can do something does not necessarily mean … Continue Reading

Locating Missing Particiants, Or at Least Trying To

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

One of the most frustrating things about benefit plans is that they have participants, participants are people and people sometimes disappear.  It is unfortunately a fact of plan administration and it can be a problem.  Plan sponsors, and administrators sometimes need to locate missing participants or beneficiaries for things like notice, distributions or even corrective … Continue Reading

Who’s in Control? Determining Control Group Status is Important

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans, Withdrawal Liability

The existence of a “control group” is important in a variety of benefit concerns.  From retirement plans to welfare plan, and particularly in withdrawal liability matters, establishing whether companies are under common control is very important.  Under the ACA, it matters for determining whether you are an applicable large employer so as we get closer … Continue Reading

The Latest on Cafeteria Plan Elections: Changes that Allow Changes

Posted in Plan Administration, Welfare Plans

What happens if an employee wants to drop out of the company plan and get into the exchange?  Seems like an option except the cafeteria plan rules prevent someone from making a mid-year change in their cafeteria plan election.  Along comes the IRS with Notice 2014-55.  This notice addresses situations in which individuals can change … Continue Reading

The Case of the Accidental Fiduciary: When a Signature is More Than Just a Name

Posted in Court Cases, Plan Administration

The issue of fiduciary status is often cumbersome because while a fiduciary can be directly named by a plan, someone can also be deemed to be a fiduciary by virtue of having discretionary authority, or even by exercising some discretionary authority through plan administration.  Consider the case of Perez v. Geopharma, a case from the … Continue Reading

Draft Instructions for PPACA Reporting Requirements: Get Ready for 2015

Posted in Plan Administration, Welfare Plans

They promised they would be coming and now they have.  On August 28, 2014, the IRS issued draft instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C and Forms 1094-B and 1095-B, which I provided in my July 31, 2014 entry.  These forms were provided in draft format and they are used to satisfy PPACA’s “information reporting requirements.” We also got … Continue Reading

COBRA Notice Penalties: Employer Pays Even Though They Also Paid Bills

Posted in Court Cases, Plan Administration, Welfare Plans

The issue of COBRA notices and penalties can create problems when considering who is entitled to the notice and when they have to be issued.  When claims are brought for alleged violations of the provision of COBRA notices, some employers assume that they can just avoid penalties if there are not actual damages, say for … Continue Reading