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Category Archives: Retirement Plans

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Department of Labor Proposes New Fiduciary Rules: Expanding the Definition of Fiduciary

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans

Yesterday the Department of Labor issued a number of proposed rules related to retirement plans, conflict of interest, providing investment advice and the definition of “fiduciary.”  Since the original proposed rule was submitted, back in 2010, there has been extensive debate over the impact of the proposed rule, who it might affect and whether it… Continue Reading

Is it a Perk or a Plan? Big “B” or Little “b”

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

Earlier this week, Starbucks announced that it is expanding its tuition reimbursement program to include more employees.  One article I read actually referred to as it as a “tuition plan.”  I don’t pretend to understand the details of their arrangement, but in discussing the concept with another attorney, it reminded me that there can sometimes… Continue Reading

When the Intranet is Not Enough: Rules for Electronic Disclosure of Plan Documents

Posted in Court Cases, Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

It seems that everyone has a smart phone or a tablet and I can’t think of anyone I know who does not have internet access at home.  Consequently, plan sponsors ask all the time if they can just e-mail plan documents to employees to satisfy the notice requirements, or maybe just post new plan documents… Continue Reading

Finding a Needle in a Stack of Needles: DOL Makes Hay on Bad Plans

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

The DOL fiscal year facts sheet for 2014 has some real interesting (and scary) facts.  The DOL claims that the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) oversees the administration of 684,000 retirement plans, 2.4 million health plans and probably as many other welfare plans like disability and life insurance plans.  That’s a lot of benefit plans. … Continue Reading

New FMLA Rules Recognize Celebration Rule: Managing Benefits

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) is not something I usually address, the DOL final regulations issued last week did address an issue I have previously written about and that is recognition of same-sex spouses.  The FMLA generally provides that eligible employees can take leaves of absence for certain family- and… Continue Reading

Benefits for “Domestic Partners”: What Does Your Plan Actually Say?

Posted in Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

Recently I was working with a client updating some of the plan documents and we ran into an interesting issue.  The plan provides for eligibility for same-sex partners under a provision defining them as “domestic partners.”  The plan sponsor asked “since all of our employees reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, do we… Continue Reading

Why Keep Track of Dependents? Wrongful Termination Case and the Ex-Spouse

Posted in Court Cases, Plan Administration, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

In the past I have written about the importance of doing regular “dependent eligibility audits” and litigation over payment of retirement benefits to spouses, ex-spouses and other beneficiaries.  But every once in a while, a case comes to my attention that reminds me that one of the hardest parts of maintaining benefit plans 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

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

Withdrawn Employers Don’t Have Standing: Why Employers Can’t Sue Trustees

Posted in Court Cases, Retirement Plans, Withdrawal Liability

For employers who cease to contribute to a multiemployer defined benefit pension plan, withdrawal liability is becoming more and more common.  When a pension fund is underfunded, the cessation of the contribution obligation can trigger the obligation to pay off the allocated portion of that unfunded liability which can be substantial.  When I am working… Continue Reading

Moench On This – U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer for ESOP Fiduciaries

Posted in Court Cases, Plan Administration, Retirement Plans

On June 25, 2014, in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, held that fiduciaries of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) are not protected by a presumption that they have acted prudently in making investment decisions—a presumption commonly referred to as the “presumption of prudence” or the “Moench presumption.”… Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Inherited IRAs Are Not Retirement Funds

Posted in Court Cases, Retirement Plans

Susan Jordan, a benefits and wealth planning partner with the firm, wrote this article about a recent Supreme Court decision.  It is significant to consider when coordinating retirement planning and potentially impacts retirement plan administration.  For more information, please contact her directly. On June 12, 2014, the United States Supreme Court ruled that funds held… Continue Reading