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Key Takeaways From an ERISA Fiduciary Breach Ruling on Behavioral Standards of Care After a 10-Day Trial

Behavioral health claims administrators and plan sponsors alike may be looking more closely at their care guidelines—and how they are applied—after a federal court ruled in a California class action that a claims administrator had breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by applying standards of care that were more restrictive than generally accepted standards and by improperly prioritizing cost savings.

IRS CORRECTION PROGRAM, NOW MORE EFFICIENT

In 2008, the IRS established a voluntary correction program aimed at plan sponsors and administrators to encourage resolution of plan document or operational failures as soon as they are discovered. The Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, or “EPCRS” as it is most often called, stresses the importance of established administrative practices and procedures to avoid Internal Revenue Code failures that may arise from a lack of such practices and procedures. EPCRS consists of three programs, Self-Correction Program (SCP), Voluntary Correction Program (VCP), and the Audit Closing Agreement Program (Audit CAP). Each of the correction principles and methodologies in EPCRS apply to all three programs.

Plan Sponsors: Don’t Miss These Retirement Plan Deadlines

Given that a variety of qualified retirement deadlines are approaching, we thought a refresher on the subject would be helpful, especially for plans that utilize a calendar plan year. This article is intended to alert plan sponsors about applicable major qualified retirement plan deadlines that fall in the first half of 2019. (Note that we have not included a complete list of all deadlines applicable to qualified plans, but instead focused on the more important ones.)

The PBGC Proposes Simplified Methods for Calculating Withdrawal Liability

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) recently proposed amendments to the regulations that govern how multiemployer plans calculate withdrawal liability. The PBGC has invited comment on these proposed regulations through April 8, 2019.

Eighth Circuit Casts Doubt on Cross-Plan Offsetting for ERISA Health Plans

Employers may soon find themselves reviewing and revising health plan master documents and summary plan descriptions (SPDs) and administrative service agreements with respect to an obscure claims administration practice known as “cross-plan offsetting”—following a recent federal appeals court ruling.

Benefits Update (No.1, March 2019)

An HR professional wears many hats relative to executive and key employee compensation. This article addresses three primary responsibilities of the HR professional: (1) understanding the core elements of a typical key employee compensation package; (2) understanding the primary duties and roles of the HR professional with respect to the design and administration of incentive packages; and (3) being aware of hot topics impacting the provision of executive compensation.

Insurance Agents Properly Classified as Independent Contractors, Circuit Court Rules

The Sixth Circuit ruled that agents were properly classified as independent contractors in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) class action brought on behalf of thousands of current and former insurance agents in Jammal v. American Family Insurance Co., No. 17-4125 (6th Cir. Jan. 29, 2019).

As The ACA Landscape Shifts Again, What’s an Employer to Do?

As employers and their third-party administrators begin to wrap-up their Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) reporting for the 2018 tax year, we’ve started to receive questions about what comes next. As we discussed here, with the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “Act”), the ACA’s “individual mandate” effectively lost its teeth—while the ACA still contains a requirement that individuals obtain health insurance coverage, the Act reduced the penalty for not doing so to $0.

Court Finds Union’s Withdrawal Liability Indemnification Obligation of Limited Duration

Congress enacted the withdrawal liability provisions of the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act (MPPAA) with the ultimate goal of protecting participants and beneficiaries entitled to benefits from multiemployer pension plans. Congress observed that such plans are financially burdened whenever an employer withdraws and permanently ceases to pay contributions and decided that the burden should be borne by the withdrawn employer. Consistent with this remedial purpose, the statute often produces seemingly harsh and/or unfair results (at least from the employer perspective.) The Third Circuit’s recent non-precedential decision in Nitterhouse Concrete Products, Inc. v. Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union aptly illustrates this principle.

Interim IRS Guidance Addressing Taxation Impact of Transportation and Parking Fringe Benefits Creates Planning Opportunities for Employers

In Notice 2018-99, the Internal Revenue Service sets forth interim guidance for taxpayers to determine parking expenses for qualified transportation fringes (QTFs) that are nondeductible and for tax-exempt organizations to determine the increase in unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) attributable to nondeductible parking expenses. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Act) amended these tax provisions effective for amounts paid or incurred after December 31, 2017.