Reminder for SBCs – Yes, Please!

The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that group health plans provide summaries of benefits and coverage (“SBCs”) to applicants and enrollees at various times is not new.  Nevertheless, because of the steep penalties for noncompliance (i.e., $1,000 per failure with respect to each participant or beneficiary and an excise tax of $100 per day with respect to each individual to whom such failure relates) we think it’s worthy of another blog post.  See our July 19, 2012 Newsletter Summary of Benefits and Coverage for Group Health Plans and follow-up August 11, 2016 blog post Departments Finally Publish Updated SBC Template and Instructions for additional background information. Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform | Tagged , ,

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Making Limits Greater Again – IRS Issues Guidance on Cost of Living Adjustments

The IRS recently announced cost-of-living adjustments for 2019 in Notice 2018-83 and related guidance.  The key dollar limits for qualified retirement plans and health and welfare plans are noted below.

Qualified Retirement Plan Dollar Limits

  2018 2019
Limit on Section 401(k) deferrals (Section 402(g)) $18,500 $19,000
Dollar limitation for catch-up contributions (Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i)) $6,000 $6,000
Limit on deferrals for government and tax-exempt organization deferred compensation plans (Section 457(e)(15)) $18,500 $19,000
Annual benefit limitation for a defined benefit plan (Section 415(b)(1)(A)) $220,000 $225,000
Limitation on annual contributions to a defined contribution plan (Section 415(c)(1)(A)) $55,000 $56,000
Limitation on compensation that may be considered by qualified retirement plans (Section 401(a)(17)) $275,000 $280,000
Dollar amount for the definition of highly compensated employee (Section 414(q)(1)(B)) $120,000 $125,000
Dollar amount for the definition of a key employee in a top-heavy plan (Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i)) $175,000 $180,000
Dollar amount for determining the maximum account balance in an ESOP subject to a five-year distribution period (Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii)) $1,105,000 $1,130,000
SIMPLE retirement account limitation (Section 408(p)(2)(E)) $12,500 $13,000
Social Security Taxable Wage Base $128,700 $132,900

Health and Welfare Plan Dollar Limits

  2018 2019
Annual Cost Sharing Limit (self-only coverage) $7,350 $7,900
Annual Cost Sharing Limit (other than self-only coverage) $14,700 $15,800
HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum (self-only coverage) $6,650 $6,750
HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum (family coverage) $13,300 $13,500
Annual HDHP Deductible (self-only coverage) Not less than $1,350 Not less than $1,350
Annual HDHP Deductible (family coverage) Not less than $2,700 Not less than $2,700
Maximum Annual HSA Contributions (self-only coverage) $3,450 $3,500
Maximum Annual HSA Contributions (family coverage) $6,900 $7,000
Maximum HSA Catch-Up Contribution $1,000 $1,000
Health Flexible Spending Account Maximum $2,650 $2,700
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Zombie Benefits – Are Health Reimbursements Arrangements (“HRAs”) Back From the Dead?

The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) has not been kind to health reimbursement arrangements (“HRAs”).  Many employers got rid of HRAs, or integrated them with a major medical plan, in order to avoid significant penalties under the ACA.  At one point it appeared that after-tax HRAs did not have to comply with the ACA.  However, as noted in our March 11, 2015 SW Benefits Blog, “IRS Issues More Guidance On Employers That Pay For Individual Health Insurance Policies for Employees – Gives Limited Relief to Small Employers,” the IRS clarified that even after-tax HRAs are also subject to the ACA rules.

The proposed regulations that were published in the Federal Register on October 29, 2018 breathe new life into HRAs.  Read More ›

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IRS Issues Updated Tax Notice for Qualified Retirement Plan Distributions

The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) recently released guidance that contains two updated safe harbor notices that retirement plans may use to satisfy the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) to provide an advance notice to a participant prior to the date on which the participant receives a distribution that meets the requirements for an eligible rollover distribution.  This notice is commonly referred to as the “402(f) Notice” after the relevant section of the Code that requires the notice to be provided.

The IRS guidance contains two model notices, one that may be used when distributions are not from a Roth account and a second model notice that may be used for distributions that are from a Roth account. Read More ›

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A New Perspective on Student Loan Repayment Benefits

On August 17, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (the “Service”) published a Private Letter Ruling (the “PLR”) describing a unique student loan repayment program in the context of a qualified retirement plan.

Proposed Student Loan Repayment Program

As described in the PLR, an Employer sponsors a Section 401(k) defined contribution plan that permits elective deferrals. The plan requires the Employer to make a matching contribution equal to 5% of an eligible employee’s compensation for a given pay period if such employee makes an elective contribution of at least 2% of his or her compensation during the same period.

The Employer proposed to amend the plan to incorporate a student loan repayment program (the “Program”). Read More ›

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New Plan Year, New Wellness Program – Some Things to Keep in Mind

As a follow-up to our recent blog Count Down to Open Enrollment – Some Quick Thoughts, below is a little more detail on how seemingly simple wellness program design changes can have significant legal consequences.

  • HIPAA – Employers feeling extra generous this plan year may want to increase their wellness program’s financial incentive.  It is important that such employers remain mindful of the limitations under HIPAA, i.e., 30% of the total cost of health plan coverage, or 50% for programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use.  As noted in our previous blog “Wellness Rules Under the ADA – Will There Ever Be Certainty?
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The 162(m) Transition Rule Guidance Has Arrived

On August 21, 2018, the IRS released Notice 2018-68 providing its initial guidance on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Act) transition rule for changes under 162(m).  Before the Act, 162(m) limited a public company’s tax deduction to $1,000,000 for annual compensation paid to its “covered employees” (i.e., the CEO and the other three most highly compensated executives (excluding the CFO)).  Important pre-Act limitations/exceptions to this rule included (i) a more narrow definition of covered employee, and (ii) an exclusion for performance-based compensation.

The Act substantially broadened the definition of covered employee and eliminated the performance-based compensation exception. However, the Act offered a transition rule for compensation paid under a written binding contract that was in effect on November 2, 2017 and that is not materially modified after that date. Read More ›

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Settlement of Solak v. Barrett May Provide Additional Guidance on Setting Director Pay

I’ve stressed how important it is for public company executives and directors to stay apprised of developments in the director pay area, including developments/settlements of director pay lawsuits.  Earlier this summer, the Delaware Chancery court approved a settlement of Solak v. Barrett, a case in which the plaintiffs alleged that the directors of Clovis Oncology breached their fiduciary duties by adopting a compensation plan that overcompensated themselves, in relation to companies of comparable market capitalization and size. In their complaint, the plaintiffs cited as evidence, the fact that the non-employee directors of Clovis each had been paid an average of $429,163 annually between 2012 and 2016, while Fortune 50 companies pay their directors a median total of $281,667 a year and S&P 500 companies pay an average $277,237 a year.  Read More ›

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The 95 Percent Test: Gearing up for Another Round of Employer Shared Responsibility Penalties

Late last year, the Internal Revenue Service (the “Service”) began enforcing penalties with respect to failures to comply with the employer shared responsibility provisions of Section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code.  In the coming months, the Service is expected to begin assessing penalties with respect to such failures occurring in calendar year 2016.  These penalties are of two varieties:

  1. Section 4980H(a) penalties are assessed for any month in which an applicable large employer (“ALE”) does not offer minimum essential coverage to substantially all (95% for 2016 and future years) of its full-time employees and their dependents and at least one full-time employee receives a premium tax credit. 
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The Family Medical Leave Act and Benefit Plans: What comes first – the Law or the Employer’s Established Policy?

An employer that employs 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year is subject to the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Therefore, often when I am reviewing an employee benefits plan or policy I flag language that states something like: “You may be eligible to continue your coverage pursuant to the FMLA. Contact the company for more information.”  What does this mean?

Group Health Plan

For purposes of the FMLA, a group health plan is generally a plan that provides health care to employees, former employees, or families of such employees or former employees. Read More ›

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