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Need Help Finding Your Plan's Missing Participants?

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a new Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB 2014-01) that provides guidance regarding the steps a plan administrator should take to fulfill his or her fiduciary duty to locate and distribute account balances to missing participants in terminated defined contribution plans. FAB 2014-01 replaces the 10-year-old Field Assistance Bulletin 2004-02 (FAB 2004-02). Since FAB 2004-02, many changes have occurred that warranted updated guidance. These changes include the discontinuance of the letter-forwarding services by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration, and the expansion in internet search technologies.

Federal Contractors See Hike in SCA Health & Welfare Rates

Executive Summary: On July 22, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its annual memorandum announcing that, pursuant to 29 C.F.R. Section 4.52, the prevailing hourly health and welfare fringe benefit rates under the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) were increasing from $3.81 per hour to $4.02 per hour. The increase took effect immediately, and the new rate is posted on the DOL's Wage Determinations (www.wdol.gov) and Wage and Hour Division (www.dol.gov/whd) websites. A special reduced rate of $1.66 per hour will apply to Hawaii because, under state law, most Hawaii employers are already obligated to provide their employees with health insurance. The new benefit rate was derived from the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Cost Index, summary of Employer Cost for Employee Compensation.

Health Care Reform: Employers Should Prepare Now for 2015 to Avoid Penalties

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, beginning in 2015, certain large employers who do not offer affordable health insurance that provides minimum value to their full-time employees may be subject to significant penalties. These penalties are explained below.

Are Your Beneficiary Designations Heir Tight?

An often-neglected area in the world of benefit plan administration is the beneficiary designation form. Many participants complete their beneficiary designations incorrectly because they don’t read the instructions carefully or don’t understand the instructions. Beneficiary designation forms are often filed away without review, and mistakes (and headaches for the plan administrator) surface only after the death of the participant. Here are some of the more common beneficiary form mistakes and misconceptions:

IRS Issues Final Regulations On Longevity Annuities

With the goal of providing retirees with more options to manage their retirement income, the IRS issued final regulations on “qualified longevity annuity contracts” (QLACs). A QLAC is a type of deferred annuity that commences at an advanced age and continues for the life of the retiree.

Update For Retirement Plans Post-Windsor

Now that some of the dust has settled on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor, employers who haven’t done so already should take immediate steps to review their retirement plan documents and administrative practices to determine if any changes or amendments are needed.

The Department of Health & Human Services Clarifies Applicability of Certain Provisions of the Affordable Care Act to Health Insurance Issuers in Puerto Rico

The Affordable Care Act ("ACA") and its regulations have been incorporated into the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Code, as amended, and guidance has been issued by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to such effect. The Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”), however, has recently clarified that the following requirements imposed under the ACA, will not apply to individual or group health insurance in the U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico: (i) guaranteed availability; (ii) community rating; (iii) single risk pool; (iv) rate review; (v) medical loss ratio; and (vii) essential health benefits.

Monthly Benefits Update - August 4, 2014

Federal Appeals Courts Issue Contradictory Rulings on Federal Marketplace Subsidies under Affordable Care Act

Big Increase in 2014 Service Contract Act Health & Welfare Rate Announced

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released its annual memorandum with the rate increase for Service Contract Act (SCA) Health and Welfare (H&W) Fringe Benefits. The new rate of $4.02 per hour (up from last year’s $3.81 per hour) is required in all government contract bids or other service contracts awarded on or after July 22, 2014. A special rate of $1.66 per hour is set for Hawaii (up from last year’s $1.55 per hour).

Circuits Split Regarding Validity of Federal Subsidies of Health Insurance Purchased on Federally-Established Exchanges

Two federal appeals courts have issued opposing decisions regarding whether the IRS has the authority under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) to extend federal tax subsidies to individuals who obtain health insurance coverage through a federal Marketplace (also known as an Exchange).