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National Employee Benefits Day Crossword Puzzle #3

April 4, 2014

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National Employee Benefits Day Crossword Puzzle #3

April 4, 2014

Authored by: benefitsbclp

This is the third in our series of three crossword puzzles in honor of National Employee Benefits Day on Wednesday!  Go here and here to see the first two posts in this series.

Reminder: Answers for all three puzzles will be posted on Saturday so you can check your work.  Enjoy!

National Employee Benefits Day Crossword Puzzle #1

April 2, 2014

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National Employee Benefits Day Crossword Puzzle #1

April 2, 2014

Authored by: benefitsbclp

In honor of National Employee Benefits Day, we’re taking a break from guidance updates and commentary and providing a little fun.  Over the next few days, we will be posting some crossword puzzles focused on the fascinating and complex world of benefits.  We will post the answers on Saturday so you can check your work.  Enjoy!

Happy National Employee Benefits Day!

April 2, 2014

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Today we recognize the important work that Human Resource professionals, plan administrators, trustees and fiduciaries, as well as professional advisors do on behalf of the nation’s workers and employers. Beyond the apparent role of protecting workers, benefit professionals also help American business navigate complex regulatory rules for the purpose of attracting and retaining the workforce it needs to attain its goals. It is this ability to help a business achieve its objectives while simultaneously creating benefit for the worker that makes our work so rewarding. Happy National Employee Benefits Day!

Lisa Van Fleet Leader of Bryan Cave’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group

 

The GAO Would Like Greater Clarity for Pension Reporting and Disclosure (by Plan Sponsors AND the Government)

December 19, 2013

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On November 21, 2013, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report entitled “Clarity of Required Reports and Disclosures Could Be Improved,”addressing the resources currently allocated by Congress to the oversight of private sector pension plans under ERISA by the Department of Labor (DOL), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).  The report was commissioned to “look at how useful all the pension reporting and disclosure requirements are to sponsors, participants and government officials and determine whether there are ways to improve the system.”  As plan sponsors know, participants are inundated with a deluge of disclosure requirements and there are multiple reporting requirements to various government agencies, both of which the GAO report essentially confirms.

Some of the more interesting observations of the GAO include:

  • The GAO identified 70 different reports and 60 different disclosures arising from

Before the Ball Drops for the New Year, Don’t Forget to Address These 2013 Employee Benefit Items!

Qualified Plans

  • If your plans are filed in “Cycle C” for determinations letters (i.e., plan sponsor’s EIN ends in 3 or 8), address items needed for the IRS filing before the end of the year. The filing deadline is January 31, 2014, but notices to “interested parties” must be distributed no later than 10 days before the filing. Set that filing date and prepare the plan restatement before the ball drops.
  • If your company did not timely adopt a written 403(b) plan document, you may qualify for a reduced compliance fee under the IRS’ correction program, but only if the filing is made before the ball drops.
  • Most defined benefit plans have been amended to incorporate the benefit accrual and distribution restrictions that apply if the plan’s funding drops below certain thresholds. These Code Section 436 rules must be added to your defined benefit plan by written amendment before

Tell Us What You Think! Employee Benefits Group Communications Survey

October 3, 2013

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Over the last two years, the Bryan Cave Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group has been focusing on how to best communicate with you – our valued clients and friends. In addition to our traditional Client Alerts, we’re now reaching out in other ways by sending monthly compliance reminder emails, maintaining this active and vibrant blog (benefitsbrayncave.com) and utilizing a variety of social media platforms including Twitter and LinkedIn, to bolster our visibility and connect with more people.

We’d like to hear from you about what you like, don’t like and what mediums you think serve you the best in keeping up in today’s highly regulated environment. To that end, we’ve prepared a quick survey (it should take no more than 5 minutes to complete) where you can provide us feedback on our group’s communication platform. We sincerely value your opinion and hope that you’ll take a few minutes to

Individual Mandate – Final Regulations Issued

Individual Mandate – Final Regulations Issued

September 4, 2013

Authored by: benefitsbclp

Putting to rest the speculation that the individual mandate may be delayed, yesterday the Treasury Department and IRS issued final regulations regarding the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The individual mandate requires individuals to maintain health insurance (i.e. “minimum essential coverage”) or pay a penalty (i.e. a “shared responsibility payment”).

The final regulations made a few clarifications but largely left unchanged the proposed regulations (released Jan. 30th). Individuals should go into 2014 with the expectation that they will pay the shared responsibility penalty unless they have minimum essential health care coverage.

Changes include the following:

Definitions: • Specifically identifying the terms used in IRC § 5000A, which requires the shared responsibility payment, are the same terms otherwise used in the ACA (e.g. health insurance coverage, health insurance issuer, individual market, and state).

Minimum Essential Coverage: • Clarifying that eligible employer-sponsored plans include plans issued on behalf

Heads Up – SCOTUS Decision Tomorrow on Same-sex Marriage

Heads Up – SCOTUS Decision Tomorrow on Same-sex Marriage

June 25, 2013

Authored by: benefitsbclp

Tomorrow, Wednesday June 26th, the Supreme Court is expected to release two opinions related to same-sex marriage: Windsor v. United States – a constitutional challenge to Section 3 of DOMA and Hollingsworth v. Perry – a constitutional challenge to Prop 8.  [Additional background information may be found here.]

While same-sex marriage supporters wait anxiously for the rulings, employers are also waiting to see how these rulings may affect employee benefit offerings.  A broad ruling could mean that employers would need to provide benefits and protections to same-sex spouses immediately, though many commentators believe that the court will not rule broadly in either case (i.e. both cases could be dismissed for lack of standing).

If the court does overturn Section 3 of DOMA, many uncertainties for employers would still exist, such as what benefits and protections must be provided to same-sex spouses that married in one state but now live

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