[firm] blog logo

IRS Extends Deadline for Amending Eligible Retirement Plans Under the CARES Act and Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act

As we previously reported here, in August 2022, the IRS issued Notice 2022-33 (available here), which provided for an extension to the deadline for amendments for certain provisions of the CARES Act; however, that extension did not apply to coronavirus-related distributions and loan relief. The IRS recently issued Notice 2022-45 (available here) providing for an extension to the deadline to amend an eligible retirement plan to reflect the coronavirus-related distributions and loan relief provisions of Section 2202 of the CARES Act and Section 302 of Title III of the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2020 (the “Relief Act”). Pursuant to Notice 2022-45, non-governmental qualified retirement plans and Section 403(b) plans will now have until December 31, 2025 to be amended to reflect the provisions of Section 2202 of the CARES Act and Section 302 of Title III of the Relief Act. Despite the fact that the amendment deadline… Continue Reading

Principal Wins ERISA Appeal in General Account Fiduciary Case

According to a recent Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals case, insurance companies that offer guaranteed interest rate products in their retirement platforms do not violate ERISA’s fiduciary standards so long as such products are provided for reasonable compensation.  Insurance companies that offer investment platforms to retirement plans in connection with their recordkeeping services generally include guaranteed interest accounts backed by their general account. In an appeal of a district court’s decision in Rozo v. Principal Life Insurance Company, certain plan participants (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”) argued that the insurance company that was providing the plan recordkeeping services, Principal Life Insurance Company (“Principal”), engaged in prohibited fiduciary self-dealing by including a fixed income option because Principal failed to establish that the revenue generated for itself from the plan related to the fixed income option was reasonable.  The Court, in rejecting the Plaintiffs’ arguments and ruling in favor of Principal, held that the… Continue Reading

Is it Time to Give Your Pension Plan a Lift-Out?

While pension plans can provide much needed retirement benefits to an employer’s workforce, the associated liabilities of defined benefit and cash balance plans also can have a number of negative impacts on the employer, including on its financial statements. One method to reduce these negative impacts is to remove some of the liabilities from the plan by using a pension “lift-out.” Essentially, a “lift-out” transfers risk and certain liabilities (usually for retirees or beneficiaries in pay status) to an annuity provider outside of the plan. For the past few years, the value of doing a lift-out has been reduced because of the high cost of the annuities. However, the recent increase in interest rates has made annuities much more affordable, which makes a lift-out a more attractive option in the current market. Plan sponsors considering a lift-out should design a plan to implement the lift-out, which should include, without limitation,… Continue Reading

DOL Wins ERISA Appeal Authorizing its DOL Cybersecurity Subpoena

A recent Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals case reminds plan sponsors and service providers that ERISA grants the DOL broad authority to seek plan-related information reasonably relevant to an investigation from both fiduciaries and non-fiduciaries. Plan cybersecurity practices have been a recent focus of the DOL and resulted in its 2021 issuance of cybersecurity best practices for plan sponsors, fiduciaries, recordkeepers, and plan participants, which are available here.  In this case, the court ruled in favor of the DOL in connection with the DOL’s 2019 investigation into the processing of unauthorized distributions of plan benefits due to cybersecurity breaches in the ERISA plan accounts serviced by Alight Solutions LLC (“Alight”). The DOL indicated that Alight failed to report, disclose, and restore the distributions. Alight denied any knowledge of the breaches. Alight argued that the subpoena fell outside of the DOL’s authority because the DOL does not have the authority under… Continue Reading

Reminder to Review Health Plan Subrogation and Reimbursement Language Before It’s Too Late

A recent case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit serves as a reminder to employers to review the subrogation and reimbursement language in their group health plan documents. In this case, a motion picture industry health plan provided that a participant must reimburse the plan from any amount recovered from a third party who was responsible for the injury. If a participant fails to reimburse the plan from a third-party recovery, under the terms of the plan, the amount of unreimbursed benefit payments is deducted from future benefit payments made on behalf of such participant by the plan. In accordance with the plan’s provisions, when one of the plan’s participants failed to reimburse the plan from a third-party recovery, the plan began deducting the unreimbursed amount from future benefit payments. The participant and other covered family members sued. A federal district court granted summary judgment in… Continue Reading

Department of Labor Releases Spring 2022 Regulatory Agenda

The DOL recently released its Spring Regulatory Agenda, and it contains several important retirement and welfare plan initiatives for this year. Below is a summary of some of the material items that plan sponsors should be aware of, along with the DOL’s proposed schedule of rulemaking:  Final Pension Benefit Statement Lifetime Illustrations Rule (Final Rule scheduled for August 2022). Note: Under the DOL’s previously issued Interim Final Rule, the inclusion of lifetime illustrations once per year on pension benefit statements became effective in June 2022. Revised procedures for granting prohibited transaction exemptions (the DOL is currently reviewing comments from its Proposed Rule from March 2022). Amendment and restatement of the DOL’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program to expand the scope of eligible transactions and to streamline correction procedures (Interim Final Rule scheduled for July 2022). Amendment of the regulatory definition of the term “fiduciary” under ERISA for those persons who render investment… Continue Reading

The Reversal of Roe v. Wade: What ‘s Next For Your Group Health Plan?

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This decision overturned the Court’s prior decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, by holding that the U.S. Constitution does not confer any right to an abortion and returning the authority to regulate abortion back to the states. Some employer-sponsored group health plans provide coverage for abortion procedures and related expenses. The full impact of Dobbs on such coverage is unknown at this time, pending future legal developments in the states, guidance from the federal government, and the results of new court cases which will likely be filed in response to this decision. In the meantime, the following considerations may be relevant for employers that sponsor a group health plan: The application to a group health plan of any new or revised abortion-related laws that are passed in the… Continue Reading

DOL Fiduciary Rule and Prohibited Transaction Exemption Compliance Date is Approaching

Beginning July 1, 2022, retirement investment providers that provide fiduciary rollover advice must document and disclose to the customer the specific reasons that the rollover to a plan or an individual retirement account (“IRA”) is in the “best interest” of the customer. Investment providers that make such rollover recommendations must comply with Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2020-02 (the “Exemption”) in order to retain investment related fees generated from that advice without running afoul of ERISA’s prohibited transaction rules. In general, advice is in a customer’s “best interest” if it is both prudent and loyal, and does not place the financial or other interests of the investment provider or financial institution ahead of the interests of the customer. As part of the rollover documentation and disclosure to customers, the following factors should be considered: (i) the customer’s alternatives to a rollover, including leaving the money in the plan, if permitted, and selecting… Continue Reading

IRS Introduces Pre-Examination Compliance Pilot Program

Starting this month, when the IRS selects a tax-qualified retirement plan for examination, it will notify the plan sponsor by letter and provide the sponsor a 90-day window to review the plan document and operations for compliance with all plan qualification requirements.   If the sponsor’s review reveals any operational or documentary failures that would otherwise qualify for self-correction under the IRS’s Employee Plan Compliance Resolution System (“EPCRS”), the sponsor will have the opportunity to self-correct those mistakes. If the plan sponsor’s review reveals any operational or documentary failures that, absent the examination, would require correction under the voluntary correction program (“VCP”) component of EPCRS, the sponsor can request a closing agreement, and the IRS will use the VCP fee structure to determine the sanction amount the sponsor will pay under the closing agreement.  The sponsor must notify the IRS of the errors discovered and the correction within the 90-day window. The… Continue Reading

It’s Time For Your Fiduciary Check-Up!

Due to the recent surge in ERISA litigation against employers and executives alleging, among other things, that they breached their fiduciary duties to plans and participants by allowing service providers to charge excessive fees, some fiduciary liability insurers have reportedly revamped their processes for evaluating applications for fiduciary liability coverage. These changes may impact an employer’s ability to obtain adequate fiduciary liability coverage, thereby increasing the exposure to plan sponsors and their executives.   Periodic fiduciary check-ups are always a good idea, but in light of these developments, it is perhaps more important than ever that plan sponsors conduct periodic internal reviews to ensure they continue to meet their fiduciary duties to their plans and participants. Among other things, responsible plan fiduciaries should:  Determine whether the committee (or committees) responsible for administering the plan and overseeing plan investments meets regularly and properly documents its meetings, including information on not just what… Continue Reading

December 2022
S M T W T F S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Archives