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 Pension & Benefits Publications Advisory Board.
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.
Communications regarding the Pension & Benefits Blog may be directed to Dana Domone via e-mail to email@example.com.
May 14, 2013
by Florence Olsen
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
by Matthew R. Madara
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
by David B. Brandolph
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
by Stefanie S. Trilling
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
by Andrew L. Oringer
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
by Kristen Ricaurte Knebel
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
by Jacklyn Wille
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.
SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro recently announced that the SEC is looking to curb high-frequency trading in stocks, a practice commonly referred to as day trading. The SEC previously attempted to address market timing or rapid trading in mutual funds when it issued amendments to rule 22c-2 in 2006. Rule 22c-2 permitted mutual funds to impose redemption fees for rapid trading or to stop rapid trades. While this rule has been in place for some time, plans may want to consider verifying how the record keepers for their plans and the mutual funds in their participant directed investment account plan are monitoring and complying with the restrictions imposed by the mutual funds and what redemption fees the mutual funds might impose for a violation not stopped by the record keeper or custodian of the funds.
February 3, 2012
by Susan J. Daley
At the end of 2008 we were all scurrying to be sure we had identified and amended all arrangements that involved 409A deferred compensation. That is more than 3 years ago and we may not currently be as focused on identifying 409A arrangements and issues as we were in 2008. Yet it is important to consider 409A issues today.
November 7, 2011
Now available: BNA’s new ERISA Litigation Tracker™. A smart, simple, streamlined resource designed to help practitioners stay on top of key ERISA cases as they are filed and litigated in federal courts.
October 14, 2011
The DOL’s recent proposed class exemption for the provision of investment advice has re-ignited the debate over the need for and the role of investment advice in participant directed plans. The proposal would strike a good balance between the need to offer investment advice to plan participants and the importance of participant safeguards.
August 16, 2011
August 3, 2011
Greta Cowart--a member of the BNA Pension & Benefits Publications Advisory Board--has been selected as a winner of the 2010 BNA Insights Award.
July 14, 2011
For many states, the fastest increasing budget item is Medicaid. In states like Utah, Medicaid in a matter of years will become the largest single budget item, surpassing education which for decades has been the state’s largest expenditure. Other states are in a similar position. At a recent meeting of the National Governors Association, CNN reported that Governors have proposed spending $15.9 billion more in fiscal 2012 on Medicaid than in fiscal 2011 and at the same time are slashing higher education by $5 billion and K-12 education by $2.5 billion.
July 13, 2011
Today, BNA unveils its new Benefits Practice Resource Center, which takes pension and benefits information services to a new level. The Benefits Practice Resource Center incorporates the superior reference and analysis material found in BNA's well-respected Benefits Practice Center, and adds even more valuable content, including four popular BNA Books, as well as practice-ready checklists, sample plans, and other practice tools.
June 27, 2011
Is CIGNA v. Amara (50 EBC 2569), the recent ERISA case from the U.S. Supreme Court, a major development? Notwithstanding the lack of surprise in the final result, the Court's rationale looks to be extremely important.
April 20, 2011
by Scott J. Macey
The contraction of defined benefit plans over the last 20 or so years has been dramatic and disappointing for those of us who believe that such plans are the best vehicle for providing retirement security. Some of the decline can be based on changes to the economy, the emergence of new companies and the decline of others, global competition, funding and financial reporting volatility, and other macro and micro economic factors.
April 14, 2011
The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in George v. Kraft Foods Global Inc. earlier this week impacting fiduciaries to defined contribution retirement plans such as 401(k) plans and other defined contribution plans (see 70 PBD, 4/12/11).
February 7, 2011
As most of you know by now, we have lost our friend and colleague, Nell Hennessy. Nell finally succumbed to a long illness that she faced with the usual courage, determination and grace that she demonstrated throughout her life.
February 3, 2011
Professionals and small business owners are often confronted with sales pitches on how they can put away large sums for retirement, get around the nondiscrimination rules and usually get a current deduction for amounts expended.
January 20, 2011
On June 25, 2010, after more than a year of delay due largely to the legislative gridlock so enjoyed by the last Congress, legislation popularly referred to as the Pension Relief Act of 2010 (HR 3962) was signed into law.
January 13, 2011
by David M. Certner
Many investors lack financial literacy. Others simply do not have (or want) to take the time to manage their accounts. One answer -- target date funds (TDF). Pick your retirement date, and forget it. Someone else will manage the plan for you.
December 21, 2010
BNA is sponsoring a webinar titled "Changing the Definition: Who is a Fiduciary," to be held Jan. 13, 2011, from 1 - 2:30 p.m ET.
October 18, 2010
The existence of a fiduciary duty to disclose information pertinent to plan investments, including employer stock, is again in the news. But the lead has been buried in a regulation that focuses attention on information about fees charged by typical 401(k) plan pooled investments.
October 2, 2010
With all the cases and articles swirling around the question of when there is a fiduciary duty to stop acquiring or to dispose of employer securities, and the recent oral arguments on the point before the Second Circuit, I'd like to set out a possible analytical framework, as follows:
October 1, 2010
If you stand back from the intricate legal and economic details of this year’s events and try to grasp what’s really happening to retirement security over the long run, it’s frightening.
September 14, 2010
The provision of the PPACA is deceptively simple: "A group health plan (other than a self insured plan) shall satisfy the requirements of section 105(h)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to prohibition on discrimination in favor of highly compensated individuals)." *** "Rules similar [my emphasis] to the rules contained in paragraphs (3),(4) and (8) of section 105(h) of such Code shall apply."
September 10, 2010
Health reform has many employers stretched to try to meet all of the requirements applicable for the first plan year beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010. One of the many difficulties faced by employers is determining what constitutes an essential health benefit on which there can be no annual or lifetime dollar limits on the value of benefits.
July 29, 2010
PPACA imposes new requirements on both insured and self-insured plans regarding their claim and appeal procedures, including a new requirement for an external appeal. The Departments of Labor, Treasury and HHS jointly issued interim final regulations on July 23 providing guidance on the new requirements (140 PBD, 7/23/10).
July 7, 2010
by Diane J. Fuchs
Recently, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, responsible for enforcing the FMLA, issued an Administrator’s Interpretation (IA 010-3, June 22, 2010), which clarifies that FMLA leave to care for a child is available to gay and lesbian couples as well as others who may not have biological or legal connection to the child.
June 1, 2010
The VEBA Trust has three separate accounts, each holding assets transferred or to be transferred by one of the respective companies and was, at its inception on January 1, 2010, one of the nation’s largest health care operations.
May 25, 2010
The Supreme Court's decision in Hardt v. Reliance Standard should have been a reason to celebrate for participants and their lawyers (99 PBD, 5/25/10). The simple holding, that you don't have to be a prevailing party before a court can exercise its discretion to grant attorney's fees is unexceptionable. Their were no dissents. But the court seemed to be at pains to tie the decision to its facts. The participant was granted benefits by the plan on the remand. Did that matter?
May 5, 2010
Heart of my Hardt. I love that mel-o-dy.
May 3, 2010
Jeff Yablon has compiled a wonderful collection of tax quotes for the new edition of As Certain as Death: Quotations About Taxes. I discovered the book from an Alan Sloan column that appeared in the Washington Post. Sloan quotes Mark Iwry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary (Retirement and Health Policy) at Treasury. Mark is the most quoted living person in the book. Justice Jackson holds the record but I predict that Mark will overtake him in later editions since Justice Jackson is dead and Mark is still alive and saying quotable things.
April 28, 2010
Each year when Henry Eickelberg of General Dynamics and I finish our course on Employee Benefits in Corporate Transactions at Georgetown, we take our students to my pub, the Irish Channel in DC, and the talk inevitably turns to jobs (or lack thereof) and careers in ERISA. I thought it might be useful to share some of that discussion with the BNA Pension & Benefits readers.
April 26, 2010
"People make mistakes." Hand it to the Chief Justice, he's got an ear for a catch phrase. As BNA summarized the holding: "Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan administrators will not be stripped of deferential review by federal courts when they make a "single honest mistake" in administering and interpreting plans...." ( Conkright v. Frommert, U.S., No. 08-810, 4/21/10).
April 13, 2010
Pensions, alas, on their way out?
April 8, 2010
Since many ERISA plans are in the process of preparing their audited financials for the 2009 Form 5500, this is a good time to to reflect on the nature and responsibilities that the plan administrator has in connection with the audit process. (As chair of the Audit Subcommittee for the committee that is the plan sponsor and plan administrator of the Goodyear Retiree VEBA, I had to think through these issues for our plan.)
April 2, 2010
by Norman P. Stein
Congress has been considering extending funding relief to sponsors of defined benefit plans.There has been controversy about the conditions under which a sponsor will be eligible for relief.
March 1, 2010
Today's decision on the merits by the 9th Circuit in the Golden Gate Restaurant Association v. San Francisco case upholding the employer spending requirements of the San Francisco ordinance as not preempted by ERISA is a most interesting read.
December 1, 2009
by Karen W. Ferguson
In late October, the Government Accountability Office released a report on auto-pilot retirement practices and proposals. The report reviews data on 401(k) plans that have adopted automatic enrollment, and discusses the Obama administration’s budget proposal to mandate payroll deduction IRAs for firms with ten or more employees that lack other plan coverage.
November 20, 2009
The DOL has withdrawn its investment-advice regulation, culminating a process that began with a firestorm of objection regarding the DOL's attempt to implement the PPA's new investment-advice exemptions. The PPA's exemptions were controversial when passed, and became more controversial when the Department interpreted certain fee-leveling requirements in a manner that was perceived to be narrow.
November 16, 2009
September 22, 2009
by Robert J. Bach
One of the purposes of ERISA was to provide participants with access to information so they could understand their rights and obtain their benefits from their plans.
August 17, 2009
For those of you who work on the compensation portion of employment agreements or the compensation payout (severance) provisions of employment termination agreements, you should be aware of a recent piece of guidance issued by the EEOC on ADEA waivers in exchange for severance payment agreements.
July 6, 2009
In 1973, just before ERISA, we worried about individual workers losing their defined benefits because of insufficient funding, no plan termination guarantees, and little or no vesting. Most of us did not worry about the whole system falling apart. There were just too many disappointed expectations under the previous system.
June 2, 2009
It is not being controversial to say that there is a trend in the states in favor of permitting same-sex marriage. Previously, a broad array of employers had begun provide benefits for their employees' domestic partners. See generally Libert, Oringer & Raskin, "Same-Sex Marriage and Employee Benefits: The Approaching Revolution," 63 Empl. Ben. Plan Rev. 22.
IRS to Focus on Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans, Other Concerns Highlighted in Questionnaire
IRS Makes Employers’ Internal Controls a Priority in Employee Plan Audits
Implications of ASU 2011-4 for sponsors of ESOPs
FASB Issues Exposure Draft on ESOP Disclosures; Comment Period Open
Follow-Up Q&A From EBN Webinar