A recent news release indicates that the US Department of Labor (DOL) has an investigatory initiative focused on the issue of “insurability” under life insurance benefits. This issue arises when insurance premiums are collected for ERISA insurance benefits but there is a failure to complete the necessary process of confirming evidence of insurability. The result is that the employee believes they have insurance coverage, but coverage is not available when sought because the evidence of insurability was never completed. The DOL views such failures as a potential breach of ERISA’s fiduciary duties by either the insurer, the employer, or both.
EXAMINING A RANGE OF EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
AND EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION ISSUES
AND EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION ISSUES
Based on new ERISA disclosure rules, now is a good time to review the compensation paid to your health plan’s consultant and broker. ERISA Section 408(b)(2)(B) requires brokers and consultants expecting $1,000 or more in direct and indirect compensation for services provided to group health plans to make detailed disclosures to the “responsible plan fiduciary” regarding their services and compensation.
The Biden administration intends to end the national emergency and public health emergency declarations (Emergency Declarations) attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic on May 11, 2023. The COVID-19 pandemic brought multiple temporary changes for ERISA-governed group health and welfare plans that will sunset at the conclusion of the Emergency Declarations. It remains to be seen what, if any, guidance will come from the regulatory agencies outlining how these mandates will be phased out or, potentially, if any continuing obligations will remain.
In a 5-4 decision in Thole v. U.S. Bank N.A., the US Supreme Court has ruled that defined benefit plan participants lack Article III standing to sue for fiduciary breaches that do not harm the individual participants. As the Court noted, “[u]nder ordinary Article III standing analysis, the plaintiffs lack Article III standing for a simple, common-sense reason: They have received all of their vested pension benefits so far, and they are legally entitled to receive the same monthly payments for the rest of their lives.
A CARES Act provision offers some relief to employee stock ownership plans by allowing the suspension of required minimum distributions for 2020.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law on March 27 contains several emergency measures affecting retirement plans. The CARES Act gives plan sponsors the option of making available to participants, effective immediately, penalty-free coronavirus-related distributions as well as plan loans increased beyond the amount otherwise permitted under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 72(p).
The Coronavirus Air, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law on March 27 includes an allocation of $200 million to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support telehealth services and $125 million to the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to expand its existing distance learning, telehealth, and broadband initiative.
Our employee benefits and executive compensation practice is available to help employers evaluate and troubleshoot potential issues arising from the changing work environment and economic situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The US Supreme Court recently decided a closely watched ERISA case against employers and fiduciaries. Under Section 413 of ERISA, the statute of limitations for a fiduciary breach claim is shortened from six years to three years if the plaintiff has “actual knowledge” of the breach.
The SECURE Act—potentially the most impactful benefits legislation since the Pension Protection Act of 2006—was included in the bipartisan spending bill signed into law on December 20, 2019. The SECURE Act includes provisions that affect tax-qualified retirement plans and individual retirement accounts. Other provisions of the spending bill affect executive compensation and healthcare benefits.