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Benefits Compliance & Legal Issues

Webinar by US Department of Labor EBSA

This one hour Webinar is FREE and open to Plan Sponsors and practitioners and is designed to encourage employers to voluntarily comply with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  Webinar:  Thursday March 17, 2016 from 11:00AM – 12:00PM (PST).  Please see attached for more details and registration info, and please share with those that might be interested.

2015 DC Plan Compliance Calendar

Vanguard provides this quick reference compliance calendar for defined contribution plans with calendar-year plan years.  It includes a list of more than 30 recurring compliance and notice requirements for tax-qualified defined contribution plans for 2015.

Preparing for a Health & Welfare Plan DOL Audit

This November 2014 article in Benefits Magazine, published by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans, takes an ERISA health and welfare plan step by step through a DOL audit, from the initial notification and request for documents through the investigative process.

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.

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.

Top Five ACA Issues Employers Should Be Following

This September 16, 2014, briefing from law firm Epstein Becker Green highlights the top five ACA issues that it believes employers should be following.  Issues include litigation, employer mandate reporting and the looming Cadillac tax.

Commentary/Analysis of IRS Draft 1094 and 1095 Forms and Instructions

This web page on Practical Law provides helpful discussion and explanation of the IRS’ recently issued draft forms 1094 and 1095 in connection with reporting that employers must provide to the IRS under Sections 6055 and 6066 of the Affordable Care Act.  The article  explains which employers, including those that are self-insured, must file the forms and what sections need to be completed.

Checklist of DC Plan Participant Notices

With the 2014 plan year nearing its end, this Prudential Compliance Bullletin looks ahead at notices that may need to be provided before the start of the 2015 plan year.  The publication provides a summary of the annual notice requirements for those notices, including timing, recipients, contents, and method of delivery.

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.

IRS Announces 2015 Rates for ‘Affordable Coverage’ Under ACA

Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, large employers are required to provide affordable coverage beginning in 2015 or potentially face penalties. For 2014, the definition of affordability was set at 9.5% of the employee’s income. For plan year beginning in 2015, IRS Rev. Proc. 2014-37 sets the new limit at 9.56% of employee income.

Wellness Programs After the Affordable Care Act (Part II)

This article is Part II of a Benefits Law Alert published by Nixon Peabody LLP, with Part I posted on August 8, 2013.  Part I of the series discussed the wellness regulations released under the Affordable Care Act, which went into effect in 2014. Part II discusses compliance with other laws that govern employee wellness programs.

U.S. Treasury Releases Final Rules on Longevity Annuities in Retirement Plans

This press release provides an overview of the Treasury Department’s final rules on longevity annuities within retirement plans.  Among the modifications in the final rules, which were Issued July 1, 2014, are changes to required minimum distribution rules and an increase the maximum permitted investment in longevity annuities.

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.

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.

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.

Summary of Final Mental Health Parity Regulations

This Towers Watson Insider offers analysis of the final regulations governing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) and, in particular, how the MHPAE interacts with PPACA.

ACA’s 2015 Transitional Reinsurance Fees

This Dec. 30, 2013, Towers Watson publication provides information on HHS’ announcement of the fee and payment schedule for the Transitional Reinsurance Fee assessed on insurers and plan sponsors to stabilize premiums in the individual market. The fee for 2015 has been set at $44 per covered life; self-insured and self-administered plans are exempt for 2015.

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 Wellness Programs

This Alert from law firm Nixon Peabody is the first of two dealing with compliance issues for employer-provided  wellness programs. This issue deals with how the ACA’s final rules amended and expanded the HIPAA nondiscrimination and wellness provisions.  These final rules apply to all group health plans, regardless of whether they are grandfathered or non-grandfathered, insured or self-insured, for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

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.

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.

PPACA’s Out-of-Pocket Maximums and Preventive Services

This analysis from Towers Watson examines the implications of the 20 questions included in the DOL’s Frequently Asked Questions #15.  The analysis focuses on out-of-pocket limits for 2014, preventive services without cost sharing and changes that may be necessary for most plans in order to be compliant.

Impact of ACA’s 90-Day Enrollment Waiting Period Rules

This March 2013 commentary from Aon Hewitt discusses the ACA’s proposed regulations limiting enrollment waiting periods for group health plans to no more than 90 days. The article also highlights the fact that after 2014 there will no longer be a need to issue HIPAA Creditable Coverage Certificates.

Summary of HIPAA Privacy Rule

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

Impact of ACA’s 90-Day Enrollment Waiting Period Rules

This March 2013 commentary from Aon Hewitt discusses the ACA’s proposed regulations limiting enrollment waiting periods for group health plans to no more than 90 days. The article also highlights the fact that after 2014 there will no longer be a need to issue HIPAA creditable coverage certificates.

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.

2014 DC Plan Compliance Calendar

Vanguard provides this quick reference compliance calendar for defined contribution plans with calendar-year plan years. The deadlines in this calendar are for plans with calendar-year plan years.

Proposed New Wellness Program Rules

This report by Aon Hewitt discusses proposed rules on wellness programs under ACA and their interaction with HIPAA’s nondiscrimination rules.

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.

MAP-21 – DB Interest Rates and PBGC Premiums

This August 2012 Sibson Consulting Bulletin discusses the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act signed into law in July. The law provides funding rate interest stabilization for defined benefit plans and also increases PBGC premiums. The Bulletin provides an overview and identifies implications for plan sponsors.

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.