Section Newsletter Articles on Employee Benefits

Federal caselaw update Employee Benefits, December 2007 Recent cases of interest to employee benefits practitioners.
Final QDIA regulations provide fiduciary relief By Jorge Leon Employee Benefits, December 2007 The Department of Labor has issued final safe harbor regulations dealing with default investment alternatives in qualified defined contribution plans.
Caselaw update Employee Benefits, October 2007 Harzewski v. Guidant Corp., 489 F.3d 799 (7th Cir. 2007).
Examination of the recent class action lawsuits filed against large companies alleging improper fee structures concerning the management of plan participants’401(k) plans By Wes Covert Employee Benefits, October 2007 Beginning September 11, 2006, a series of lawsuits were filed against a number of large companies and their third-party administrators, charging that the plan fiduciaries breached their duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, (ERISA) by subjecting plan participants to excess fees and expenses, thereby reducing the value of their investments.
Employee benefits update By Bernard G. Peter Corporate Law Departments, August 2007 The IRS has issued the long awaited final regulations under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 409A, which established new rules applicable to nonqualified deferred compensation plans.
IRS still not charitably driven when clients steer IRAs to trusts By Michael Cyrs Trusts and Estates, March 2007 The Internal Revenue Service is still a miser when it comes to trusts and individual retirement accounts. In a recent internal legal memorandum (Internal Legal Memorandum 200644020 “ILM”) the Internal Revenue Service (“Service”) concluded that a transfer of an individual retirement account (“IRA”) to charity to satisfy a legacy from a trust was taxable to the trust as income in respect of the decedent under Internal Revenue Code Section 691(a)(2).
DB: RIP? Employee Benefits, December 2006 The Pension Protection Act of 2006 is supposed to strengthen defined benefit (DB) plans, but new rules for funding and mortality/interest rate assumptions, along with new disclosure requirements, may actually help to undermine DB plans.
Employee benefits research on the Web Employee Benefits, December 2006 Useful links for employee benefits practitioners.
Federal caselaw update Employee Benefits, December 2006 Howard Delivery Service, Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Co., 126 S. Ct. 2105 (2006).
The Supreme Court enforces employer health plan reimbursement provisions By Travis J. Ketterman Federal Civil Practice, December 2006 In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that a health plan may enforce a reimbursement provision against a participant who receives medical benefits and later recovers from a third party in a tort claim.
2006 year-end reminder of required or suggested employee benefits action By Bernard G. Peter Corporate Law Departments, November 2006 The following is a list of employee benefits plan items on which employers need to or should consider taking action prior to the end of 2006.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): Are they the right option for your client? Elder Law, November 2006 In the maze of health care, it’s sometimes difficult to determine what’s right for your client.
Employers should really think about adding Roth 401(k) accounts to plan By Scott E. Galbreath Corporate Law Departments, October 2006 As of January 1, 2006, 401(k) plans can offer participants the option of contributing part of their compensation on an after-tax basis into a Roth 401(k) account.
Defined Contribution Plans— Summary and Limits By Dr. Bart A. Basi Young Lawyers Division, August 2006 There are many types of retirement plans available for taxpayers. In fact, there are so many, the President has considered reducing retirement accounts from the many types that exist today into one simplified retirement savings program.
Some employers finding relief from rising health care costs, according to NBGH/Watson Wyatt Survey Corporate Law Departments, July 2006 Escalating increases in health care costs in recent years have wreaked havoc on companies’ compensation budgets, often holding pay and other perks hostage.
Current state of cash balance plans By Jennifer Hope Strouf Employee Benefits, June 2006 Currently “cash balance plans” are not defined by the Code or ERISA.
FASB issues exposure draft on changes to accounting for pension and other post-retirement benefit plans By Stewart D. Lawrence Employee Benefits, June 2006 The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued the Exposure Draft: Employers’ Accounting for Defined Benefit Pension and Other Postretirement Plans, an amendment of FASB Statements No. 87, 88, 106, and 132 (R).
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): Are they the right option for you? Young Lawyers Division, June 2006 In the maze of health care, it’s sometimes difficult to determine what’s right for you. Health Savings Accounts are a relatively new program, and one you should be aware of.
“Tax Expenditures” For FY 2007 Employee Benefits, June 2006 Health and welfare and pension plans receive favorable treatment under the Internal Revenue Code: employers get an immediate deduction for the contributions, and employees can defer or avoid altogether income taxes on the benefits.
Reply to Letter to the Editors Regarding “How to Handle an Employer’s Group Health Plan Lien” (January, 2006, Vol. 51, No. 4) By Robert T. Park Civil Practice and Procedure, April 2006 I have reviewed Mr. Mielke’s letter and the Varco case.
Employee benefits update By David R. Shannon Federal Taxation, March 2006 No policy, contract, certificate, endorsement, rider application or agreement offered or issued in this State, by a health carrier, to provide, deliver, arrange for, pay for or reimburse any of the costs of health care services or of a disability may contain a provision purporting to reserve discretion to the health carrier to interpret the terms of the contract, or to provide standards of interpretation or review that are inconsistent with the laws of this State.
The future of automatic enrollment: An analysis of recent legislative activity By William E. Hansen Employee Benefits, March 2006 President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “A secure retirement rests on a three-legged stool: Social Security, Private Pensions, and Private Savings.
HSA/FSA grace period guidance restricts employer options but provides limited transition relief By Sharon R. Cohen Corporate Law Departments, February 2006 In Notice 2005-86, the IRS clarifies the effect of a health flexible spending account (FSA) grace period on health savings accounts (HSAs).
IRS issues proposed regulations on employer-comparable contributions to HSAs By Sharon R. Cohen Corporate Law Departments, February 2006 The IRS has proposed the first regulations on health savings accounts, which generally follow the comparability guidance issued in previous notices.
How to handle an employer’s group health plan lien By Robert T. Park Civil Practice and Procedure, January 2006 As a result of an accident, the plaintiff was injured. He brings a suit in circuit court for negligence. His damages include medical bills that were paid for by his employer’s group health insurance plan. After pursuing discovery, including depositions, the case settles. The health plan asserts a lien for the amount it paid. How should the lawyer handle the employer’s group health plan lien?
Regulatory update: Illinois Employee Benefits, December 2005 Does ERISA preempt this regulation? In Nickola v. CNA Group Life Assurance Co., 2005 WL 1910905 (N.D. Ill. 8/5/2005), the court declined to address the preemption issue (as to the same proposed regulation) because even if the arbitrary and capricious standard applied, “Defendant’s process and analysis in terminating Plaintiff’s long-term disability benefits is so defective that it fails arbitrary and capricious review.”
Senate and House DB funding reform alternatives By Michael Barry and Brian Donohue Employee Benefits, September 2005 (Notice to librarians: The following issues were published in Volume 23 of this newsletter during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005: September, No. 1; December, No. 2; March, No. 3; June, No. 4).
America’s Health Insurance Plans Regulatory Brief-Update on Erie County: District court bars publication of EEOC regulation Employee Benefits, June 2005 Publication of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC's) long-awaited final regulation permitting the coordination of retiree health benefits with Medicare or state-sponsored retiree health benefits has been barred by a recent decision of the U.S. Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Federal caselaw update By David R. Shannon Employee Benefits, June 2005 The National Pension Lawyers Network, which is administered by the Pension Action Center at the University of Massachusetts (Gerontology Institute), provides referrals to employee benefits lawyers.
Governor signs Pension Reform Bill By Michael J. Hernandez Education Law, June 2005 The Governor has signed Senate Bill 27 into law. Among other things, SB 27 extends the teachers' Early Retirement Option (ERO).