The DOL recently announced a final rule which provides an additional “Notice-and Access” safe harbor for plan administrators to electronically deliver ERISA-required notices and disclosures. The final rule is substantially similar to the proposed rule (which we discussed in a previous blog post here). Under the final rule, plan administrators may electronically deliver certain “covered documents” to “covered individuals” with electronic addresses by (i) posting the covered documents on a website and sending a notice of Internet availability (“NOIA”) to the covered individual’s electronic address or (ii) sending covered documents directly to a covered individual’s electronic address. The NOIA may be sent on an annual basis, describing multiple covered documents, and must include (x) a description of the covered documents being posted, (y) the address of or hyperlink to the website where the covered documents are posted, and (iii) information about the covered individual’s right to request covered documents in… Continue Reading
The IRS recently published final regulations addressing changes enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and other prior changes to the tax code. The final regulations do not contain any substantive differences to the proposed regulations issued by the IRS in November 2018. The new final regulations: • Permit, but do not require, hardship distributions from a participant’s elective contributions, QNECs, QMACs (including safe harbor matching contributions), and any earnings on those amounts, regardless of when they were contributed or earned. • Prohibit plans from containing a requirement that a participant may not contribute to the plan for any period of time following a hardship distribution (in other words, eliminate the six-month suspension rule). • Eliminate the requirement that a participant take out all available plan loans before receiving a hardship distribution (although plans may continue to contain such a requirement).… Continue Reading
Final regulations were recently released by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury (collectively, the “Departments”) which create two new options for providing employer-sponsored group health coverage under a health reimbursement arrangement (“HRA”). The Departments also issued a set of FAQs which outline key points regarding these new HRA options and other changes reflected in the regulations. An HRA is a type of account-based health plan that employers may use to reimburse employees for their medical care expenses. Individual Coverage HRA The first option, an “Individual Coverage HRA,” may be offered by employers as an alternative to coverage under a traditional group health plan (“Traditional GHP”), subject to certain conditions. In effect, Individual Coverage HRAs extend the federal tax advantages that are afforded to Traditional GHPs (i.e., exclusion of premiums and benefits received from federal income and payroll taxes) to HRA reimbursements of an individual’s… Continue Reading
Last December, we reported on the DOL’s release of final regulations revising ERISA’s claims procedures for disability benefits. A more in-depth review of the types of benefit plans affected by these final regulations is available on our companion blog, HB Health and Welfare.
IRS Issues Final Regulations to Facilitate Partial Lump-Sum Payments under Defined Benefit Pension Plans
Many defined benefit pension plans either do not offer lump-sum payments (other than small cash out amounts) or offer either a full lump-sum payment or an annuity form of payment. For those plans that offer an all-or-nothing lump-sum payment, the government believes participants who elect the lump sum may face a greater risk of outliving their retirement savings. The IRS has issued final regulations permitting a plan to explicitly split the accrued benefit into a portion payable as a lump sum and the balance payable in the form of an annuity without requiring the annuity portion to be subject to the Code Section 417(e) actuarial conversion requirements. The final regulations contain specific rules on the calculation of the two portions and include a number of examples that illustrate application of these rules. The final regulations are available here.
On May 16, 2016, the EEOC issued two sets of final regulations regarding the compliance of employer-sponsored wellness programs with the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (“GINA”). The final regulations were generally consistent with the ADA and GINA wellness program proposed rules issued by the EEOC during 2015, which set forth limits on the inducements employers may offer to employees for participation in wellness programs that solicit health information from participants. Consistent with the proposed regulations, the final regulations also include confidentiality and notice requirements for wellness programs subject to the ADA and GINA. The effective date for compliance with the wellness program inducement limits and new ADA notice requirements is the first day of the plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2017. The final regulations under the ADA are available here. The final regulations under GINA are available here.
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) prohibits discrimination in certain health care programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. HHS recently issued final rules under Section 1557, which specify gender identity discrimination and sexual stereotyping as forms of sex discrimination. However, these rules only apply to “covered entities” as defined for this purpose. The term “covered entity” includes health care systems or providers that accept Medicare Part A or Medicaid and insurance carriers and/or third party administrators (“TPA”) that receive federal funding through participation in the public insurance marketplace, which will also have to comply with respect to benefits offered to their own employees. While HHS interprets the rule to impact an insurance carrier’s and/or a TPA’s entire book of business, a TPA is not responsible for discrimination due to a plan sponsor’s self-insured plan design decisions beyond the… Continue Reading
On October 30, 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) issued proposed regulations amending previously issued proposed regulations under Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (“GINA”) regarding employer wellness programs. Among other items, the proposed regulations explain that wellness programs that request or require employees (or their covered spouses) to provide genetic information as part of health or genetic services (e.g., through a health risk assessment (“HRA”) involving a medical questionnaire or medical examination) must be reasonably likely to promote health or prevent disease. Furthermore, the proposed regulations clarify that GINA does not prohibit employers from offering limited inducements to employees whose spouses (who are covered under the employer’s group health plan) complete an HRA under which genetic information is provided, subject to the requirements that the provision of such information by the spouse is voluntary and that prior written authorization is obtained from… Continue Reading
The IRS recently issued final regulations regarding the deduction limitation for certain employee compensation in excess of $1 million under the Internal Revenue Code. Proposed regulations were issued on June 24, 2011. The final regulations generally adopt the proposed regulations with some modifications. Code Section 162(m) generally imposes a deduction limit of $1 million on compensation paid by a publicly held corporation during any tax year to a “covered employee,” which generally includes the CEO and the three highest paid officers other than the CEO and CFO. However, the deduction limitation does not apply to qualified “performance-based compensation,” including stock options and stock appreciation rights (“SARs“). The final regulations clarify that for stock options and SARs to qualify for the exception, the requirement to specify the per-employee limitation in the plan is satisfied if the plan specifies an aggregate maximum number of shares with respect to which stock options, SARs,… Continue Reading