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For ACA, Don’t Stop At Your Benefits Plans: Remember To Check Your Handbook

June 3, 2014


Employers have been diligently working on revisions to their benefits plans and summary plan descriptions to comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  After those revisions are in place, it is critical to remember an additional step:  Make sure that applicable employee handbook language is also revised to reflect these changes.

Generally, it is best to keep any discussions of benefits to a minimum in employee handbooks, so as to avoid confusion and the potential for conflict with plan documents and summary plan descriptions.  However, employers usually desire to include some benefits-related information in their handbooks, if only to point employees in the right direction for obtaining additional information.

Thus, if your handbook contains benefits-related information, you should consider reviewing that information and make any necessary revisions so that the information is both consistent with the Affordable Care Act and consistent with your plans and other communications.

The Final “Play or Pay” Regulations Have Arrived!

February 18, 2014


The long awaited final regulations regarding the employer shared responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act were released on February 10, 2014.  They offer new transition relief and provide much needed guidance in several areas including how to determine which employees are “full-time” for purposes of the mandate.  Although the 59 pages of regulations will surely provide ample fodder for numerous future posts, we’ll start with a rundown of some of the most notable provisions:

Notre Dame Contraceptive Challenge is “Fast-Tracked” in the Seventh Circuit

January 24, 2014


From BenefitsBryanCave.com

The University of Notre Dame, a Catholic higher education institution, challenged ACA’s provision that, as the University describes, requires coverage of certain “abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are contrary to Catholic teaching” in May of 2012.  The University’s original lawsuit was dismissed by a judge in the Northern District of Indiana in December of 2012 for lack of standing.  In its opinion, the district court found that, at that time, the HHS’s regulatory requirement was not sufficiently final to be ripe for review because the government indicated that the regulations would be modified and provide a safe harbor for Notre Dame to protect it from the then-existing regulation.

Given the issuance of the revised guidance in 2013, which provided for the so-called “accommodation” for religious not-for-profit organizations that are not churches and that self-certify their objections to providing the coverage (by shifting the obligation to

IRS Issues New Guidance on In-Plan Roth Rollovers

December 19, 2013


From BenefitsBryanCave.com

On December 11th, the IRS issued new guidance (Notice 2013-74) regarding rollovers of a distribution from an individual’s non-designed Roth accounts within a retirement plan to his or her designated Roth account in the same plan (often referred to as “In-Plan Roth Conversions” or “In-Plan Roth Rollovers”). Such In-Plan Roth Rollovers may be tax-free to the applicable participant in a 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) governmental plan if certain requirements are met under Code Section 402A.

The Notice clarifies a number of points which plan sponsors should be aware of when adding and/or administering an In-Plan Roth Rollover feature, including the types of contributions which may be rolled over and how such amounts must be treated by the applicable plan once rolled over. The Notice also provides for certain extensions which may permit 401(k) plan sponsors to amend their plan documents to incorporate In-Plan Roth Rollovers as

Check it Out and Check it Off: 2014 Group Health Plan Checklist

October 15, 2013


With 2014 just around the corner, numerous mandates under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended (“PPACA”) are about to become effective.  Below is a checklist of upcoming PPACA mandates that employers must implement in 2014, as well as a list of existing enrollment and annual notice requirements that group health plan sponsors should consider during open enrollment. This is the first in a series of checklists regarding year-end benefits and compensation issues. Please watch for additional checklists on executive compensation and qualified retirement plan matters.

Click HERE to view the entire Alert.

409A – Is Your Compensation Arrangement Subject to These Rules?

August 12, 2013


From BenefitsBryanCave.com

The 409A rules do not provide a clear roadmap to determine what compensation arrangements are subject to their regime of requirements and restrictions. In this brief video, Brian Berglund provides a description of the approach you should take to evaluate whether your compensation arrangement should be structured to comply with the 409A rules regarding deferral elections, timing of payments and other requirements.

(You can also view the video by going here.)

457(b) Plan Update – IRS Compliance Check On the Horizon

July 17, 2013


From BenefitsBryanCave.com

Tax-exempt entities are permitted to sponsor non-qualified deferred compensation plans for select groups of highly compensated employees, managers, directors or officers (i.e., “top hat” plans) under Code Section 457(b).   Approximately 200 non-governmental organizations sponsoring these plans will receive a “compliance check“ letter by the end of September 2013, and another 200 in the next 12-month rolling period, from the IRS’s Employee Plans Compliance Unit (“EPCU”).  This outreach effort is part of a project recently announced by the IRS designed to:

  • learn more about the operation of these plans,
  • verify that the plans comply with the applicable Code requirements,
  • identify common issues of noncompliance, and
  • recommend ways to remove any “barriers” to compliance.

EPCU is requesting “timely” responses to its request for information (or a response indicating that the compliance request was received in error because the employer does not maintain a 457(b) plan).  While the compliance

Health Care Reform: Where are We Now that ACA’s Employer Mandate Has Been Delayed for One Year?

July 10, 2013


From BenefitsBryanCave.com

The Benefits world was rocked last week when it was announced that enforcement of the ACA employer shared responsibility penalties would be delayed for one-year. IRS Notice 2013-45, released late yesterday, July 9, officially confirmed the delay, but provided no real additional guidance.  Employers are asking, what exactly this means?  Read on for our summary of where things stand.

I.     What ACA requirements are delayed in 2014?

  • Employer Mandate:  Employers must offer coverage to employees who work on average 30+ hours per week.
  • Affordability:  Coverage must be affordable (i.e., the employee’s share of the coverage cost cannot exceed 9.5% of the employee’s household income).
  • Minimum Value:  Coverage must provide minimum value (although this requirement is waived, employer must still report whether a plan provides minimum value on the SBC).
  • Certain Reporting Requirements:  Employers

Breaking – Treasury Official Announces Anticipated Delay in Employer Mandate, Reporting Requirements

July 8, 2013


From BenefitsBryanCave.com

See the details in this article here.

A link to the Treasury’s website with the release here.  Update 7/3: A White House blog post on this topic is also available.

Update: We’re still digesting this news, but here’s a summary of the Treasury blog post:

  • It will be an additional year before employer and insurer reporting under Code Sections 6055 and 6056 is effective (so the first reports will be due in 2015 rather than in 2014)
  • Proposed regulations on these reporting requirements are expected this summer
  • The IRS encourages voluntary reporting in 2014
  • Since enforcement of Employer Shared Responsibility mandate hinges upon these reports, excise taxes under the mandate will not apply in 2014
  • Formal guidance on the transition period for this delayed enforcement is expected within a week
  • It is not clear whether an employer is required to make efforts toward implementation or do anything

Renew Early? Pay Later?

May 30, 2013


Renew Early? Pay Later?

May 30, 2013

Authored by: Chris Rylands

From BenefitsBryanCave.com

While we have not heard it first-hand, we have heard through the grapevine that some insurance carriers are out there offering to their clients the ability to “renew early.”  Part of the strategy is, apparently, to delay the application of health care reform provisions.  The following discussion addresses some risks associated with reliance on such a strategy as a means of complying with the employer mandate and the insurance mandates.

EMPLOYER MANDATE:  At the outset, let’s be clear about one fact: this does not get an employer out of play or pay.  The employer mandate rules specifically say that a plan year can only be changed for a valid business purpose and that, in this case, avoiding the shared responsibility tax is not a valid business purpose.  Renewing early is (assuming other legal niceties are satisfied) a change in plan year.  Without a business purpose,