Bloomberg BNA's Pension & Benefits Blog is a special resource offered by Bloomberg BNA to provide commentary and insight on news and trends reported in our publications: Pension & Benefits Daily, Pension & Benefits Reporter, and the Benefits Practice Resource Center. The authors of the blog are members of our Benefits Practice Resource Advisory Board and members of staff (who contribute summaries of some of their recent stories).
The ideas presented here are those of individuals, and Bloomberg BNA bears no responsibility for the appropriateness or accuracy of the communications between group members. We reserve the right not to post comments that are abusive or otherwise objectionable.
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April 16, 2014
by Sean Forbes
about the retroactive application of Windsor to claims for benefits
under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act?
April 9, 2014
Many plan sponsors and
administrators got the news they were looking for on the application of the
U.S. Supreme Court's Windsor decision to retirement plans: No
retroactive application before the date of the high court ruling itself.
April 4, 2014
by Jacklyn Wille
litigation, questions of constitutional standing and the fate of the
pro-fiduciary presumption of prudence are the big issues currently driving fiduciary
litigation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, practitioners
said during a webcast.
by Andrew L. Oringer
So we've now had the oral argument before the Supreme Court in the potentially critical
Dudenhoeffer case (Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, U.S., No. 12-751, argued 4/2/14).
April 2, 2014
question of whether a judge-made presumption of prudence should protect
fiduciaries of employer stock plans from liability for declining stock prices
will be front and center at the U.S. Supreme Court next week, with the court
receiving nine amicus briefs in the months leading up to oral arguments.
March 27, 2014
by Sue Doyle
Throughout his first four years in
office, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) gave a consistent stump speech--a pledge to
overhaul the worst-funded public sector retirement system in the country.
March 19, 2014
Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant
secretary for the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security
Administration, doesn't have 21 questions for people who doubt whether the
agency's expected re-proposed fiduciary regulations are necessary. She has only
March 12, 2014
by David B. Brandolph
Pension plan trustees can
offer participants much-needed individual investment advice in their
participant-directed accounts without undue fear of liability, speakers said
during a conference.
March 7, 2014
by Marvin Anderson
President Barack Obama's
proposed $3.9 trillion fiscal year 2015 budget includes requirements that
employers offer individual retirement accounts and provisions that would reduce
tax benefits on certain retirement accounts for high-income earners.
February 26, 2014
health plans or health insurance issuers offering group health insurance
coverage can't apply a waiting period that exceeds 90 days for individuals to
be eligible for benefits coverage under terms of their plans, according to new
final regulations under the Affordable Care Act and released jointly by three
February 19, 2014
Plan fee litigation had a
big year in 2013, with divisive appellate court decisions affecting standards
of judicial review, statutes of limitations and functional fiduciary status
that may open the door for increased and novel litigation, employee benefits
attorneys said during a conference panel presentation.
February 12, 2014
The civil enforcement
efforts of the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration
achieved nearly $1.7 billion in monetary results during the 2013 fiscal year,
Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for EBSA, told conference
attendees at a Feb. 7 presentation.
February 5, 2014
by Joe Lustig
Plan sponsors' use of
lump-sum payments to settle pension obligations for retirees in pay status has
emerged as the leading issue in the debate over pension de-risking, an employee
benefits attorney said during a recent conference session.
January 30, 2014
The recent upswing in
defined benefit plan funding levels might encourage plan sponsors to take some
major steps to de-risk their plans.
January 23, 2014
Several U.S. Supreme Court rulings
broke new ground for employee benefits in 2013, and decisions in 2014 are also
expected to push these issues into new territory. In addition to its landmark
ruling recognizing same-sex marriage under federal law, the U.S. Supreme Court
also issued two significant opinions under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act in 2013—one involving contractual limitations periods, and the
other involving Section 502(a)(3)'s equitable remedies provision.
January 15, 2014
A recently filed class
action complaint alleges that Fidelity Investments committed fiduciary breach
and engaged in prohibited transactions with respect to its own profit sharing
plan by failing to “recapture” certain revenue-sharing payments made by the
plan's mutual fund adviser to the plan's record keeper, both of which are
Fidelity entities (Yeaw v. FMR LLC, D. Mass., No. 1:14-cv-10035, complaint
January 10, 2014
attorney challenging the amount of benefits she received from her former law
firm's underfunded cash balance plan failed to convince the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that a district court erred in rejecting her
claims of fiduciary breach and violations of the tax code (Clark v. Feder
Semo & Bard, P.C., D.C. Cir.,
No. 12-7092, 1/7/14).
January 7, 2014
Xerox Corp.'s use of a
phantom account in calculating and offsetting its employees' pension benefits
was unreasonable under the terms of the plan and violated the notice
requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled (Frommert v. Conkright, 2d Cir.,
No. 12-67-cv, 12/23/13).
December 27, 2013
by Kristen Ricaurte Knebel
Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services issued proposed
rules (REG-143172-13; RIN 1210-AB60; CMS-9946-P) that would amend the
regulations on excepted benefits regarding vision and dental benefits, as well
as employee assistance programs.
December 20, 2013
Cafeteria plans can permit
midyear election changes for plan participants who were legally married to
same-sex spouses as of June 26, the date of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision
in United States v. Windsor, the Internal Revenue Service said in Notice
2014–1, issued Dec. 16.
December 13, 2013
plan community can expect guidance imminently on issues related to frozen
defined benefit plans, a Treasury Department official said during a webcast.
December 4, 2013
Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration projected that
its rule on the redefinition of the term “fiduciary,” also known as its
conflict-of-interest rule, will be re-proposed in August 2014, and also
indicated its intentions to start on a project related to brokerage windows,
according to the DOL's fall 2013 regulatory agenda.
December 2, 2013
Supreme Court should strike down the pro-fiduciary presumption of prudence that
some federal courts have used to shield fiduciaries of employer stock plans
from liability for declining share value, the U.S. solicitor general said in a
brief filed with the high court.
November 21, 2013
in a Prudential Insurance Co. of America disability policy requiring claimants
to submit proof of disability that is “satisfactory to Prudential” didn't
constitute an unambiguous grant of discretionary authority that would entitle
Prudential to deferential judicial review of an adverse benefit determination,
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled.
November 13, 2013
by Andrea L. Ben-Yosef
The Treasury Department is
hammering out final issues with Affordable Care Act compliance, from employer
reporting requirements to health insurer fees, and should have some guidance
out soon, Treasury's benefits tax counsel said.
November 8, 2013
by Mary Hughes
The Internal Revenue
Service and Treasury Department expect to get guidance out to cafeteria plans
“very, very soon” on the retroactive application of the Supreme Court's Windsor
decision, a Treasury official said.
October 30, 2013
of Labor guidance providing that the terms “spouse” and “marriage” under the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act now include same-sex legally married
couples was a confirmation of earlier Internal Revenue Service guidance, but
some issues remain on the health and welfare plan side that could lead to legal
action down the line, practitioners told Bloomberg BNA in a series of
October 23, 2013
Employers hoping to offer health reimbursement arrangements
to employees to give them money to spend on the Affordable Care Act health
insurance marketplaces have found their hands tied following guidance issued
Sept. 13 by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor, attorneys
said during a session of the Groom Law Group's Employee Benefits Seminar.
October 16, 2013
considering the date on which a disability plan's contractual limitations
period begins to run, the U.S. Supreme Court justices questioned attorneys on a
wide range of issues, including federal law preemption, equitable doctrines,
potential harm and the purpose of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's
administrative exhaustion requirement.
October 11, 2013
The Department of Labor is looking into fiduciary training as
part of the agency's investigations into retirement plans, attorneys at Trucker
Huss in San Francisco told Bloomberg BNA.The attorneys had taken part in a recent webinar on the
basics of retirement plan committees, and later Bloomberg BNA asked them to
share some of their real-life experiences relating to fiduciary training under
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
October 1, 2013
Podcast (stream or download) by Steven Friedman and Ilyse Schuman: On Oct. 1, the Affordable Care Act marketplaces open for business. Then, starting in 2015, employers have a choice of whether to “pay or play,”-- to provide health care coverage or pay a penalty.
September 25, 2013
The Department of Labor's ERISA Advisory Council intends to recommend
that the department update current guidance related to locating lost or missing
retirement plan participants, based on teleconference discussions held by the
panel Sept. 23.
September 18, 2013
DOL's fiduciary rule re-proposal may be out as late as
spring 2014; Section 408(b)(2) summary/road map proposed rules should be out in
late September, or early October.
September 10, 2013
The guidance in Revenue Ruling 2013-17 will trigger major
changes in beneficiary status by requiring spousal consent where none was
required before, a benefits attorney said concerning a Treasury Department and
Internal Revenue Service ruling issued Aug. 29.
August 22, 2013
Any guidance promulgated by the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration on lifetime income illustrations should be optional for retirement plans and provide fiduciary...
August 12, 2013
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP cannot shake claims by participants in its
cash balance plan that the plan's service-based normal retirement age
violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act,...
July 26, 2013
Two private equity funds that held a combined 100 percent stake in an
employer that withdrew from a multiemployer pension plan can be liable
for the employer's withdrawal liability, the U.S....
July 18, 2013
In the m on ths since the Internal Revenue Service lifted a moratorium in 2011 on issuing private letter rulings on church plan s, IRS has issued at least 13 rulings granting church plan...
July 2, 2013
The U.S. Supreme Court decision
striking down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act expanded employee
benefit rights and provided administrative relief for employee benefit managers
June 10, 2013
MISSING PARTICIPANTS/LOST PLANS Pension specialists recommended June 4 that the Department of Labor's
Employee Benefits Security Administration develop a lost-plan registry
May 14, 2013
The Internal Revenue Service has identified an increasing number of
small employers that maintain multiple tax-qualified retirement plans,
an arrangement that is not a violation of tax code...
May 6, 2013
by Rebecca J. Miller
FASB Accounting Standard Update (ASU) 2011-04, Fair Value Measurement
(Topic 820): Amendments to Achieve Common Fair Value Measurement and Disclosure
Requirements in U.S. GAAP and IFRSs , ...
April 19, 2013
For more than a decade, the Internal Revenue Service has been refining its approach to examining tax-qualified retirement plans, most recently by focusing on internal controls, according to BNA...
April 16, 2013
Conservatism. Consistency. Conformity. These are the big “C’s”
of financial reporting. But at a recent conference of employee stock ownership
plan (ESOP) sponsors and advisors, another “C” joined...
April 8, 2013
Here are a few follow-up question from the EBN/Bloomberg BNA webinar titled Behind the Scenes of IRS Employee Plans Enforcement Strategies. To view the archived program, click here . Q: ...
March 12, 2013
Two officials of IRS Employee Plans have teamed up with Alston
& Bird and Bloomberg BNA to share the important details of the Employee
Plans Compliance Resolution System that was updated in...
March 4, 2013
The Treasury Department cannot offer employers a
timetable for when proposed employer “shared-responsibility” rules under
the Affordable Care Act will be finalized, but employers will have...
February 20, 2013
Bloomberg BNA is sponsoring a free web seminar Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. ET titled Behind the Scenes of IRS Employee Plans Enforcement Strategies. Don’t let an IRS enforcement action lead to harsh...
February 14, 2013
Under proposed “reasonableness” standards for Circular
230, employee benefit attorneys who provide written tax advice may not
rely on information from benefit plan sponsors if the attorneys know...
February 5, 2013
Whether and, if so, how to apply vesting rules to in-plan
Roth transfers are among questions that a working group will try to
answer as the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service...
January 22, 2013
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled
Jan. 17 that a plan administrator abused its discretion by terminating a
participant's long-term disability benefits based on the...
January 7, 2013
The Internal Revenue Service released Dec. 31 the long-awaited
revised revenue procedure updating the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution
The big deal is the new process for...
December 28, 2012
IBM's recent announcement that, starting in 2013, it will make
matching and automatic nonelective contributions to its employees' Section 401(k)
plan accounts only once annually at the end of each...
December 12, 2012
Retirement benefits are front and center on the policy agendas of employee
benefit groups as Congress and President Obama negotiate a deal to solve the
nation's fiscal crisis during the final...
December 10, 2012
Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, said DOL plans to re-propose the fiduciary rule, but the department still has “a lot more work to...
November 29, 2012
by Gary M. Ford
Since ERISA was first enacted in 1974, it has included a provision, Section 4062(e), that generally applies when the cessation of operations at a facility results in separation from employment of...
November 28, 2012
Recent efforts by Hostess Brands Inc. to use
bankruptcy to discharge withdrawal liabilities totaling nearly $2 billion
highlight a persistent and serious problem for multiemployer plans,...
November 27, 2012
An employer is not entitled to
restitution of $548,257 it mistakenly overpaid to multiemployer health and
pension funds, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled Nov. 23 ( ...
November 15, 2012
This blog entry is a summary of a white paper prepared for BNA by
Keith Butcher, John Kober, and Jason C. Ray and adapted from a BNA Insight. The white paper is available at butcherjoseph.com . ...
November 9, 2012
Private-equity and similar funds sometimes invest in
portfolio companies that may have significant liabilities under ERISA and the
corresponding provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. A...
November 2, 2012
After Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. announced earlier this
year that they would offer some retired and former employees a one-time
opportunity to take lump-sum distributions, pension...
October 11, 2012
Multiple employer plans, when facing
overlapping requirements from the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue
Service, should comply with the more stringent rules, a speaker said during...
October 9, 2012
Following an en banc review, the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Oct. 5 reinstated a 2011 decision in which it held that
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not...
October 4, 2012
The U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of Ohio ruled Sept. 28 that the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempts the Wisconsin Family and
Medical Leave Act's (WFMLA)...
September 28, 2012
A fund administered by a joint labor-management board of trustees but providing no benefits to individual participants or beneficiaries is not an employee welfare benefit plan under Section 3(1) of...
August 14, 2012
As Section 401(k) plan fiduciaries take steps to comply
with new Labor Department participant disclosure regulations, they need
to understand and explain to participants the purpose and merits...
July 11, 2012
by Denise Lugo
Will the new pension accounting standards--to be publicly available in August by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board-- spur a new round of debate as a result of the new accounting measures...
June 18, 2012
Practitioners encouraged the Department of Labor June 14 to
adopt a safe harbor standard that offers liability protection to plan
fiduciaries with respect to beneficiary determinations. Witnesses...
June 15, 2012
Witnesses urged the Department of Labor June 13 to
facilitate the use of annuities as lifetime income options at an ERISA Advisory
Council meeting on examining income replacement for retirees...
June 14, 2012
Witnesses pushed for defined contribution plans to
incorporate qualified disability benefits June 12 at an ERISA Advisory Council
meeting on the interaction between disability and security in...
May 16, 2012
by Dana J. Domone
Scott C. Albert, chief of the reporting and compliance division at the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration, said recently that DOL is sending emails to Form 5500...
April 25, 2012
The Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Department of
Health and Human Services have issued a series guidance that summarizes their intended
direction in implementing the employer shared responsibility
requirement and related Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requirements. Most recently, IRS
Notice 2012-17 and DOL Technical Release 2012-01 address the PPACA
employer shared responsibility requirement, automatic enrollment
requirement, and waiting period limitation in a series of
"frequently asked" questions and answers.
March 21, 2012
by Greta E. Cowart
During the February 28, 2012 ALI-ABA Video Broadcast program on Health Plans some representatives from the government provided us with their personal insights on how the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (“SBC”) rules and templates should operate. Earlier this week the DoL posted FAQ VIII on its ACA website regarding the SBC that provided additional flexibility for employers. This is just a highlight of some of the important information learned during such program and from FAQ VIII.
February 29, 2012
by Sherwin S. Kaplan
Editor's Note: Last month, advisory board member Sherwin Kaplan and his colleague at Nixon Peabody, Eric Paley, conducted a webinar titled "Managing and Protecting Your Employee Benefit Plans: New Department of Labor Initiatives." As part of that webinar, Sherwin and Eric took questions from the audience, but they were unable to get to every question in the time allocated for the program. Sherwin--a former co-chair of the Bloomberg BNA Pension & Benefits Publications Advisory Board--agreed to answer outstanding questions here on the blog.
February 24, 2012
This week we officially relaunch the Bloomberg BNA Pension & Benefits Blog. Now on a new platform, the blog is more attractive and easier to use, yet it continues to contain insight, commentary, and analysis from the well-respected Bloomberg BNA Pension & Benefits Advisory Board.
A Possible Alternative to the Moench-ies (Part II)
Attorneys Make Predictions on Fee Litigation, Questions of Constitutional Standing
Battle Over Presumption of Prudence Heats Up Ahead of High Court Arguments
IRS Windsor Retroactivity Guidance Leaves Questions on ERISA Claims, Practitioners Say
Retirement Plans Aren't Required to Apply Windsor Ruling Retroactively, IRS Says