American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Highlights for Employers to Watch For

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) became law on March 11, 2021, and there are several provisions that are likely to have a significant impact on employers, including the following: Unemployment benefits. The ARPA increases the duration of unemployment benefits under temporary pandemic relief programs from March 14, 2021, to September 6, 2021. Unemployment claimants will receive an additional $300 per week Read More

Employer Retirement Plan Platform Overload: MEPs, PEPs, and Single Employer Plans

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act) established a new retirement plan platform - Pooled Employer Plans (PEPs) - whereby a group of unrelated employers could participate in a single defined contribution plan as of January 1, 2021. This adds a new retirement plan option for employers to consider among other existing plan options that include the following: Single Employer Read More

A Recent Fifth Circuit Court Decision May Elevate HIPAA Enforcement Hurdles

On January 16, 2021, a Fifth Circuit Court decision in University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services vacated a $4.3 million penalty imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) against M.D. Anderson for alleged HIPAA violations, finding that the penalty was “arbitrary, capricious, and otherwise unlawful.” Background M.D. Anderson disclosed to HHS Read More

IRS Releases Final Regulation on Tax-Exempt Organizations Excise Tax

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted in December 2017 created a 21% excise tax on executive compensation in excess of $1 million paid by tax-exempt organizations to certain employees (IRC Section 4960). On January 19, 2021, the IRS published the final regulations to help applicable tax-exempt organizations (ATEOs) comply with the excise tax on excessive pay under Section 4960. The following summarizes the key Read More

DOL Approves PBGC Missing Participant Program for Defined Contribution Plans

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released Field Assistance Bulletin 2021-01 that authorizes, as a matter of enforcement policy, plan fiduciaries of terminating defined contribution plans to use the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) missing participant program for missing or nonresponsive participant’s account balances.  Following the termination of a defined contribution plan, current DOL Read More

DOL Proffers Guidance on Missing Participants

It’s hard to believe people would leave retirement funds behind when they move to a new job, but it happens. In fact, many people fail to roll over retirement plans when they leave a job and move to a new employer. Plan administrators and sponsors are then faced with a dilemma – and sometimes unclear or evolving guidance from government agencies that oversee employee retirement plans. Now the Department of Labor Read More

DOL Reinstates Five-Part Test for Determination of ERISA Fiduciary Status

On December 18, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) published in the Federal Register a final prohibited transaction exemption for investment advice fiduciaries that effectively reinstates the DOL’s “five-part test” as set forth in its 1975 regulation defining investment advice fiduciaries under the Code and ERISA. For advice to constitute “fiduciary investment advice” under the five-part test, a financial Read More

Consolidated Appropriations Act Adds Mental Health Parity Compliance Requirement for Group Health Plans

Section 203 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), which became law on December 27, 2020, requires group health plans to evaluate compliance with the existing rules governing nonquantitative treatment limitations (NQTLs) under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA).  The MHPAEA requires group health plans that apply NQTLs to mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits Read More

Policies & Procedures: The Key to Avoiding Retirement Plan Excessive Fee Litigation

The recent increase in litigation over retirement plans and, specifically, the fees those plans are being charged for administration and management, has many companies concerned about what they need to do to protect the plans they manage. Two recent federal district court rulings illustrate the necessity for plan sponsors to have a prudent decision-making process in place to successfully defend against excessive fee Read More

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