DOL and PBGC Announce Increased 2021 Retirement Plan Penalties

Under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) are required to make annual inflation adjustments to ERISA violation penalties by January 15 of each year. The recently released retirement plan penalties for 2021 are as follows: DOL Penalties The increased penalties apply to violations where a penalty is Read More

CMS Provides for COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period

In accordance with an executive order issued by President Biden on January 28, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is opening a COVID-19-related special enrollment period (SEP) for uninsured consumers to obtain health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The new COVID-19-related SEP is in effect from February 15 - May 15, 2021, for the 36 states that use the Read More

New Coronavirus Bill Proffers Guidance for Partial Plan Terminations and Other COVID-19 Related Distributions

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) was signed into law on December 27, 2020. This major funding bill included the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, which contained the following provisions affecting partial plan terminations and other COVID-19-related distributions: Partial Plan Termination Safe Harbor The CAA provides a temporary Read More

Agencies Issue Final Rule on Grandfathered Status Under the ACA

A final rule has been issued by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services, and Treasury (the “agencies”) that allows grandfathered group health plans and insurers to make certain cost-sharing adjustments without losing grandfathered status under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Grandfathered plans are those that were in existence when the ACA was enacted on March 23, 2010. A few ACA provisions apply Read More

Group Health Plans and COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations

In general, employers are permitted to require that their employees be vaccinated if no disability or religious exemption applies. With two COVID-19 vaccines already authorized by the FDA for emergency use and more on the horizon, employers need to be aware of how this will affect their group health plans.  In October 2020, the Trump administration released an interim final regulation (IFR) governing coverage of Read More

2020 Appropriations Bill Includes Myriad of Retirement Plan-Related Provisions

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) was signed into law on December 27, 2020. This major funding bill included the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (COVIDTRA) and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (TCDTR), which contained the following provisions affecting retirement plans: Money Purchase Pension Plan Distributions May Qualify as Coronavirus-Related Distributions The CAA Read More

Plaintiffs Face Setback in New Second Circuit PBM-Favorable Decision

Plaintiffs in an ERISA lawsuit against pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) received another setback recently when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court ruling that defendants Anthem, Inc., and Express Scripts, Inc., did not violate ERISA’s fiduciary obligations because neither defendant acted as an ERISA fiduciary when entering into a contractual agreement that led to higher prescription costs for Read More

IRS Releases Final 162(m) Regulations Implementing Statutory Changes

On December 18, 2020, the IRS released final regulations under 162(m) of the IRS Code to implement the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes as well as provide guidance to employers. Section 162(m) focuses on publicly held corporations and deductions for compensation paid to covered employees. This section does not allow these corporations to deduct compensation that exceeds $1 million per year. The TCJA changes the Read More

Overview of Benefits Provisions in New COVID-19 Bill

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) was signed into law on December 27, 2020. This major funding bill included the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020. Following are highlights of the provisions affecting employer-sponsored benefit plans: Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) The CAA allows for certain relief pursuant to health care and Read More

DOL Adopts New Prohibited Transaction Exemption for Fiduciaries Providing Investment Advice

On December 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published the final version of its new prohibited transaction class exemption for investment professionals: Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2020-02, Improving Investment Advice for Workers and Retirees.  The new class exemption is based on the DOL’s temporary policy adopted after a 2018 ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Chamber of Commerce of Read More