Understanding Employee Benefits

Department of Labor Extends Deadline for Required Annual Fee Disclosures for Participants

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On July 22, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2013-02 (the “FAB”). In the FAB, the EBSA announced a temporary policy in which it would not take any enforcement action against a retirement plan sponsor which fails to provide the... Read More

Topics: ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Fiduciary Guidance, Retirement Plans

Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Defense of Marriage Act – Open Questions for Benefit Plan Sponsors

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On June 26, 2013, in a 5-4 vote the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1993 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional as a violation of Fifth Amendment guarantees of equal protection and equal liberty. The case, United States v. Windsor No.12-307(US June 26, 2013)  http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_6j37.pdf dealt with the... Read More

Topics: Cafeteria Plans, ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Health Plan, Payroll, Retirement Plans, Welfare Plans

Health Insurance Carriers Must Also be Careful in What They Tell Plan Participants

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I blogged recently warning employers to be careful when enrolling employees in plan benefits because the employer could be responsible to pay life insurance or disability benefits if an employee who is improperly enrolled incurs a claim. The increased liability comes from the recent Supreme Court decision, Cigna v. Amara, ... Read More

Topics: ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Health Plan

The U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Plan Sponsor’s Recovery of Participant Damages Award

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On April 16, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-1285_i4dk.pdf finding in favor of U.S. Airways in its quest to recover $66,866 in medical expenses incurred by its employee as a result of a traffic accident. McCutchen was a participant in the... Read More

Topics: ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Fiduciary Guidance, Health Plan, Welfare Plans

Ninth Circuit Decides Selection of Retail Mutual Funds Was a Breach of Fiduciary Duty

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On March 21, 2013 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Tibble v. Edison International, http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/03/21/10-56406.pdf in which the Court ruled that the plan fiduciaries of the Edison 401(k) Savings Plan (the “Plan”) had breached their fiduciary duty by selecting retail mutual funds with 12(b)(1) fees when... Read More

Topics: ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Fiduciary Guidance, Retirement Plans

It Pays to Add a Statute of Limitations to Your Plan’s Claims Procedure

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ERISA requires that plans contain a reasonable claims procedure. Courts have generally required claimants to exhaust that claims procedure before filing a lawsuit. In addition, if the plan gives the plan administrator discretion to interpret the plan and decide claims, a court will often give deference to the plan administrator’s... Read More

Topics: ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Welfare Plans

Section 409A Tax Assessed on Discounted Stock Options – Taxpayer Sues for Refund in Federal Court of Claims

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Code Section 409A which was effective in January 1, 2005, provides strict rules that must be applied to most deferred compensation arrangements accruing benefits after the effective date. Failure to comply with the Code and the applicable Treasury Regulations can result in a 20% surtax plus interest on the amounts... Read More

Topics: Deferred Compensation and 409A, ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Executive Compensation, Payroll