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Federal Government Links

IRS Updates Regarding Retirement Plan Appeal Procedures

IRS Publication 1020, “Appeal Procedures Employee Plans Examinations”, the IRS explains what plan sponsors can do if they disagree with a proposed disqualification of their qualified retirement plan by the agency, as well as what plan sponsors must do if they agree to a proposed plan disqualification.

IRS Updates Regarding Retirement Plan Examinations

IRS Publication 1-EP, “Understanding the Employee Plans Examination Process,” discusses how retirement plans may be selected for examination and what areas may be reviewed.

IRS Notice 2014-74: Safe Harbor Explanations

This IRS notice amends the two safe harbor explanations in Notice 2009-68 regarding certain information to be provided to recipients of eligible rollover distributions. Amendments to the safe harbor explanations relate to the allocation of pre-tax and after-tax amounts, distributions in the form of in-plan Roth rollovers and other clarifications.

IRS Contribution/Benefits Limits for 2015

This page on the IRS website provides a table of IRC Section 415 dollar limits for pension plans and other items for tax year 2015 adjusted for cost-of-living increases.

Final Rule on Health Plan Identifiers under HIPAA

This page on the website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides basic information on the Health Plan Identifiers required under HIPAA. It also includes links to definitions of terminology used in the regulations.  NOTE: An October 31, 2014, update to this page puts the November 5, 2014, deadline to obtain an HPID on hold until further notice.

IRS Notice 2014-49: Further Guidance on Look-Back Measurement Procedures

The IRS issued guidelines on September 18, 2014, for application of the look-back measurement process for employers in two specific situations: when an employee transfers from one position to another within the same company but with different look-back measurement periods or when an employer changes the look-back measurement period for a position.

IRS Webinar Recording: Defined Benefit Plan Terminations

The IRS conducted this webinar on defined benefit plan terminations on August 14, 2014.  The discussion includes defining “date of termination” revisions, funding requirements, pension benefit guaranty corporation (PGBC) issues, and notice of intent to terminate the plan.

IRS Issues Additional Guidance Regarding Hybrid Retirement Plans

The IRS published final regulations providing guidance in the Federal Register on September 19, 2014 relating to applicable defined benefit plans. Applicable defined benefit plans are those that use a lump sum-based benefit formula, including cash balance plans and pension equity plans, as well as other hybrid retirement plans.

IRS Guide for Retirement Plan Reporting

The Reporting and Disclosure Guide for Employee Benefit Plans was prepared by the IRS and reviewed by the Treasury Department, the DOL, and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC). It is intended to be used as a quick reference tool for certain basic reporting and disclosure requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

IRS Q&A on Information Reporting by Health Care Coverage Providers

This page on the IRS website provides information in Q&A format on information that healthcare coverage providers must report to the IRS under section 6055. Reporting is voluntary for 2014; for 2015, the information is required in early 2016.

IRS Draft Forms 1094 and 1095 with Instructions for ACA Information Reporting

This chronological (newest to oldest) listing of draft tax forms on the IRS website contains links to the various 1094 and 1095 forms associated with the Affordable Care Act. The 1094 and 1095 forms were posted August 28, 2014. The instructions provided with the forms are directed at Exchanges that must report enrollees in qualified health plans as well as at employers and others that provide minimum essential coverage or are subject to the employer mandate.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Resources for Frequently Asked Questions

The report by the Congressional Research Services provides basic consumer sources, including broad overviews of the ACA law, the individual mandate, private health insurance, and exchanges, as well as public health care programs. The report also sources on employer-sponsored coverage, including sources on employer penalties, small businesses, federal workers’ health plans, and union health plans.

Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2013

This July 2014 report based on survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Board in September 2013 captures a snapshot of the financial and economic well-being of U.S. households. The survey also examined the issues they face, their recovery from the Great Recession and perceived risks to their financial stability.

Commentary on Implications of Court Ruling in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer

This paper from Groom Law Group discusses the Supreme Courts finding that ERISA fiduciaries are not entitled to a presumption of prudence when they invest in company stock.  The case at hand involved an ESOP plans, but the decision has implications for publicly traded firms that offer company stock in their retirement plans.

Text of U. S. Supreme Court Opinion in Burwell v Hobby Lobby

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its opinion of June 30, 2014, that a for-profit corporation has free exercise of religion rights, making it lawful for the corporation to be exempt from laws to which it has religious objections.

CMS Fact Sheet: Exchange and Insurance Market Standards for 2015 and Beyond

This CMS Fact Sheet summarizes the final rules regarding consumer notices, quality reporting and enrollee satisfaction surveys, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), standards for Navigators and other consumer assisters, and policies regarding the premium stabilization programs, among other standards.

Final Master FAQs from CMS on Health Insurance Market Reforms and Marketplace Standards

This 7-page document from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Studies provides guidance in Q&A format on the implementation of the essential health benefits and actuarial value, guaranteed availability, minimum essential
coverage, and transitional policy extensions as established by the Affordable Care Act to reform the insurance market.

EBSA’s Proposed Guide to 408(b)(2) Disclosures – Fact Sheet

This Fact Sheet on the EBSA website discusses the agency’s proposed amendment these regulations to require covered service providers to furnish a guide along with the required disclosures, if the disclosures are contained in multiple or lengthy documents.

IRS Final Regulations on ACA’s Employers’ Shared Responsibility Provide a One-Year Transition to Full Compliance for Large Employers

On February 12, 2014, the IRS published final rules covering employers’ shared responsibility under ACA.  Large employers, those with 100 or more employees, will be subjected to penalties if they fail to cover 70% of full-time employees in 2015. The coverage threshhold moves to 95% in 2016. Employers with 50-99 employees have until 2016 to comply.

2014 IRC 415 Dollar Limitations on Benefits and Contributions

This page on the IRS website provides a table specifying the IRC 415 limits for 2014. Essentially, deferral rates for defined contribution plans are unchanged. The chart includes COLA changes for annual compensation, HCE threshold, taxable wage base, etc.

Modification of FSA Use-It-Or-Lose-It Rule

This IRS announcement on October 31, 2013, explains modification of the use-it-or lose-it rule for FSAs. Employees may carry over $500 of unused amounts from 2013 to 2014, provided the plan sponsor amends the plan to permit participants to do so.

ACA’s Impact on Account-Based Health Plans

The DOL’s Technical Release No. 2013-03 provides guidance on ACA’s market reforms on HRAs, FSAs, EAPs and certain other employer-provided healthcare arrangements.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #16

This set of FAQs for implementation of the Affordable Care Act covers notices to employees about coverage available through Exchanges and the 90-day waiting period limitation.

ACA’s Impact on Account-Based Health Plans

The DOL’s Technical Release No. 2013-03 provides guidance on ACA’s market reforms on HRAs, FSAs, EAPs and certain other employer-provided healthcare arrangements.

Definition of “Spouse” and “Marriage” under ERISA and the Supreme Court’s Decision in United States v. Windsor

The DOL’s Technical Release No. 2013-04 provides guidance for employers on the definition of “spouse” and “marriage” in connection with their benefit plans.  The release states that, in general, the two terms in Title I of ERISA and in related department regulations should be read to include same-sex couples legally married in any state or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes such marriages, regardless of where they currently live.

FMLA – Fact Sheet #28F – Qualifying Reasons for Leave

This Fact Sheet on the DOL website clarifies that for purposes of FMLA the definition of spouse includes a same-sex spouse if the marriage is recognized under the laws of the state in which the employee resides.

Corrected Template – Summary of Benefits and Coverage

A revised template of ACA’s Summary of Benefits and Coverage is available on the DOL website. The revision includes two additional questions: “Does this plan provided minimum essential coverage?” and “Does this plan meet the minimum value standard?” The revised template is to be distributed during the open enrollment period for plan year 2014, or 30 days before the beginning of the plan year for plans without an open enrollment period.

Guidance on the Notice to Employees of Marketplace Coverage Options

The Department of Labor issued this May 8, 2013, Technical Release to provide background and instructions on employers’ responsibility to notify employees of healthcare coverage options available through state exchanges or “marketplaces.”

Model Notice of Coverage Options for Employers Who Offer Health Care Benefits

The DOL provides a model notice of coverage options for employers who offer health care benefits, as mandated under the Affordable Care Act, to let employees know about the availability of insurance exchanges, or marketplaces. The notice is in Q/A format. It includes a form that employees who want to buy insurance through an exchange must complete.

Model COBRA Notice Updated for ACA

The DOL has provided a revised model COBRA Notice for use by single employer health plans. The new model includes language to make beneficiaries aware of alternative coverage available through ACA’s marketplaces.

DOL Fact Sheet – Lifetime Income Illustration

The DOL/EBSA published this May 7, 2013, advance notice of proposed rulemaking regarding lifetime income projections for defined contribution plan participants. The Fact Sheet discusses assumptions and safe harbors plan administrators can use to develop the projections. Comments are due by July 8, 2013.

DOL/EBSA Lifetime Income Calculator

This page on the DOL/EBSA website provides an overview, instructions and an explanation of results in connection with the Lifetime Income Calulator the Department developed in conjunction with its May 7 advance notice of proposed rulemaking. The notice focuses on retirement income projections for defined contribution plan participants.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #14

This set of frequently asked questions on the DOL website covers updates to the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) that include information on minimum essential coverage and minimum value of the plan’s benefits.

Summary of HIPAA Privacy Rule

The Department of Health and Human Services provides a summary of the HIPAA privacy rule on its website.

DOL Self-Compliance Tool for ERISA Part 7 – HIPAA

This self-compliance tool issued by the DOL is useful for group health plans, plan sponsors, plan administrators, health insurance issuers, and other parties to determine whether a group health plan is in compliance with some of the provisions of Part 7 of ERISA.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #13

This set of frequently asked question (FAQ) clarifies the extent expatriate group health insurance coverage is subject to the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

DOL Field Assistance Bulletin 2013-01, MAP-21 Funding

This memorandum provides guidance on compliance by single-employer defined benefit pension plans with section 40211(b)(2) of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). This section of MAP-21 amended the annual funding notice requirements of section 101(f) of ERISA to require additional disclosure of the effect of segment rate stabilization on funding.t plans. This field assistance bulletin also includes a supplement to the model annual funding notice that plan administrators may use to comply with these new requirements.

IRS February 2013 Employee Plan News

This is the February 2013 edition of a periodic newsletter the IRS publishes. In this issue is information on how new revenue correction procedures affect 403(b) plans, updates on compliance projects and more.

Final Rule for Health Insurance Market Reforms

This overview on the Department of Health and Human Services website explains the final rules on health insurance market reforms: Guaranteed Availability of Coverage; Fair Health Insurance Premiums; Single Risk Pool; Guaranteed Renewability of Coverage; Catastrophic Plans; and Updating Rate Review.

Essential Health Benefits: Fact Sheet

The Department of Health and Human Services issued final rules on February 20, 2013, outlining standards for coverage of essential health benefits (EHB) and the determination of actuarial value (AV). This fact sheet provides an overview.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #12

This set of FAQs on the DOL website addresses the limitations on cost-sharing and coverage of preventive services.

Target Date Fund Tips for Fiduciaries from EBSA/DOL

The Employee Benefits Security Administration has issued a brief, three-page document with general guidelines for plan sponsors with respect to selecting and monitoring target date funds.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #11

This set of FAQs on the DOL website addresses the employer notice of coverage options, health reimbursement arrangements, disclosure of information related to firearms, employer group waiver plans supplementing Medicare Part D, fixed indemnity insurance and payment of PCORI fees.

IRS Chart of Significant Changes to EPCRS

This chart on the IRS website lists changes to the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System introduced by Rev. Proc. 2013-12. It identifies the sections where they are to be found and describes the change from prior procedures.

IRS Updates Error Correction Program for Retirement Plans

The new procedure updates and expands the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), the comprehensive system of correction programs for sponsors of retirement plans that have failed to meet one or more requirements of the Internal Revenue Code.

Affordable Care Act Implementation Timeline

This page on the government website devoted to healthcare reform, provides a timeline of when provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect. There are also links to additional information for consumers.

FAQ – ACA’s Transitional Reinsurance Program

The IRS has published frequently asked questions in connection with the transitional reinsurance program that is part of the Affordable Care Act. This three-year program (2014-2016) assesses a per participant fee on fully insured and self-insured plans to support payments to individual market issuers that cover high-cost individuals .

The Affordable Care Act’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program

This page on the federal government’s website is devoted entirely to the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP), a component of the Affordable Care Act that provides reimbursement to participating employer-based plans for a portion of cost of coverage for early retirees, their dependents and beneficiaries.

A Review of the Workplace Wellness Market

This study of employer-sponsored wellness programs was prepared for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor in conjunction with provisions under ACA that expand the use of incentives in nondiscriminatory programs. It is based on a review of the current literature on the topic and summarizes typical program components, the prevalence of wellness programs among employers and their impact, and the use and effect of financial incentives in these programs.

Guide to Common Qualified Retirement Plan Requirements

This page on the IRS website, updated in October, 2012,  lists some of the more important retirement plan requirements to ensure that employer-sponsored plans maintain their qualified status under IRS rules.

PBGC Premiums – 2014

This page on the PBGC’s website provides a table of the premium rates for 2014 as well as links to other information and resources available from this federally mandated pension insurance program.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #10

FAQ #10 provides additional clarification on the implementation of the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) for Medicare Advantage Plans.

Participant Fee Disclosure – Clarification on Brokerage Windows

On July 30, 2012, EBSA issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2012-02R to clarify the fee disclosures that are required for investments participants make through brokerage windows. The Department’s original guidance, issued in May, caused an uproar among professionals in the retirement industry and plan sponsors who complained the disclosures were needlessly burdensome and would overwhelm participants. The Bulletin is in a Q&A format; question number 13 addresses this specific issue.

May 14, 2012, Issue – Before It’s Too Late – A Retirement Security Update

This inaugural email by the head of EBSA, Phyllis Borzi, is a bi-weekly publication that highlights the DOL’s efforts to raise awareness of the need for retirement security. Links within the email give access to EBRI’s 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey and information on EBSA’s public forums on retirement security being offered around the country.

Participant-Level Retirement Plan Fee Disclosure Regulation – FAQs

This Field Assistance Bulletin (No. 2012-02) from Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration contains frequently asked questions and answers about the Department’s participant-level fee disclosure regulation (29 CFR § 2550.404a-5). It also answers questions about related plan-level disclosures under 408(b)(2).

IRS Employee Plans News – March 2012

The March 2012 issue has articles on new guidance encouraging plans to offer lifetime income options, an update on the Determination Letter Program, the IRS’ 401(k) plan projects and other employer plan-related topics.

FMLA – DOL’s Online Access to Information About Rights and Responsibilities

This page on the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division website is part of the elaws program. This Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor provides information about the basic rights and responsibilities of employees and employers under FMLA. It includes information about the 2012 expansion of rights for military families and airline flight crews.

HHS Resources for Creating a Summary of Benefits and Coverage

This page on the HHS website provides access to a whole host of additional information for preparing a Summary of Benefits Coverage. Included are links to instructions and guides for the sample benefit calculations for common scenarios that are a requirement of the regulations.

EBSA – Fee Disclosure Failure Notice

This page on the EBSA website outlines action a plan sponsor can take to avoid a prohibited transaction when a plan service provider fails to disclose fee information it is required to under 408(b)(2). The page contains a link to a model notice of covered service provider’s failure to comply as well as links to a 408(b)(2) Fact Sheet and Final Regulations.

EBSA – Understanding Retirement Plan Fees and Expenses

EBSA has provided an easy-to-read article for retirement plan sponsors on its website in conjunction with the February 2012 publication of 408(b)2 plan-level fee disclosures. The article includes explanations of the major categories of fees and basic information on investment fees. There are also links to several other supporting publications, most notably a link to a model 401(k) plan fee disclosure form.

EBSA – Sample Completed Summary of Benefits and Coverage

The DOL’s EBSA has provided a sample completed Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) using the template the agency developed. The SBC is the four-page summary mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #6

This is the sixth set of frequently asked questions about the Affordable Care Act that the Department of Labor’s EBSA has available on its website.

Uniform Glossary of Health Insurance and Medical Terms

This DOL/EBSA website has created a four-page glossary of health insurance and medical terms as a companion to the Summary of Benefits Coverage that must be provided to all plan participants under PPACA.

Fact Sheet—Shining a Light on Health Insurance Rate Increases

This December 21, 2010, online publication discusses the provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurers to justify “unreasonably high” health insurance premium increases, which, in 2011, is those of 10% or more.

Interim Final Rules – Coverage of Preventive Services Under ACA

This link to the Federal Register provides the text of the interim final rules for group health plans and health insurance issuers regarding the coverage of preventive services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The publication also includes a request for comments.

Raising the Retirement Ages Would Have Implications for Older Workers and SSA Disability Rolls

This report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office discusses the impact proposed changes to early and full retirement age would have on workers. In particular, the report cites the likely affect that raising the age would have on the number of people applying for and receiving disability insurance because of the health or physical challenges they face.

Affordable Care Act – DOL/EBSA Web Page

This page on the DOL/EBSA website provides links to guidance, regulations, Fact Sheets and Model Notices for provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that are of particular interest to employers. Among the topics for which links are provided are grandfathered status, external review, coverage of preventive care, extension of coverage to adult children, preexisting condition exclusions, lifetime and annual limits, rescissions, patient protections and early retiree reinsurance. The page also provides links to related websites.

Genetic Information Discrimination – EEOC

This EEOC link discusses the prohibition against using genetic information under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) to discriminate against employees and applicants.

GINA – Final Regulations

On November 9, 2010, the EEOC published a final rule in the Federal Register to implement Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #4

This is the fourth set of frequently asked questions that the Department of Labor’s EBSA has available on its website. These FAQs cover market reform issues.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #3

This is the third set of frequently asked questions that the Department of Labor’s EBSA has available on its website.

EBSA’s Proposal for Broadening the Definition of Fiduciaries Under ERISA

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration issued this proposed rule October 22, 2010, explaining ERISA’s definition of “fiduciary” for employee benefit plans.  The broader definition proposed is designed to protect plans and plan participants from conflicts of interest and self-dealing from persons who give investment advice.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #2

This is the second set of frequently asked questions issued by EBSA.  Topics covered include grandfathered plans, dental and vision, rescission and preventative health as well as ACA’s effective date for individual health insurance policies.

Affordable Care Act – FAQ #1

This is the first of a number of sets of frequently asked questions that the Department of Labor’s EBSA has available on its website.  These FAQs address implementation topics covering compliance, grandfathered plans, claims, internal appeals, external reviews, dependent child coverage, out-of-network emergency services and highly compensated employees.

Form 5500 – ERISA Filing

The Department of Labor created this web page covering the electronic filing of Form 5500, which was made mandatory January 1, 2010, for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2009.

Types of Retirement Plans

This section of the IRS Sponsor/Employer web pages is a “fundamentals” of employer-sponsored plans.  Find information on starting and maintaining a retirement plan, including what kinds of plans there are, how they work, and the benefits of having a retirement plan.

Lifetime Income Options for Retirement Plans

EBSA published a Fact Sheet that succinctly explains its joint RFI with the Department of Treasury.  The two Departments are seeking ideas to reduce the likelihood that retirement plan participants will run out of funds. The RFI is a first step to determine what can be done to enhance retirement security for American workers.

Compliance Assistance for Health and Retirement Plans

This section of the EBSA site provides useful tools and a wealth of information for ensuring that your health and retirement plans adhere to federal regulations.  It also includes FAQs, Model Notices and other information on a broad array of plan management issues.

Department of Labor/EBSA Fact Sheets

This page on the EBSA website is a listing of Fact Sheets on various aspects of healthcare benefits, such as the Affordable Care Act, COBRA, HIPAA and Mental Health Parity and on Retirement issues, such as Selecting and Monitoring Pension Consultants, Default Investment Alternatives, the definition of “fiduciary”, etc.