ERISA & Employee Benefits

Withdrawals and Loans from Defined Contribution Retirement Plans

In reaction to the current volatility in the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have been receiving a large number of questions from defined contribution plan sponsors regarding ways participants can access money in their accounts. While recognizing such leakage may cause future headaches for participants in their retirement, many individuals do not have the resources to weather this ...

Retirement Plan Provisions of CARES Act

The third COVID-19 stimulus package has provisions regarding retirement plans, including expanded and penalty-free withdrawal rights, expanded loan rights, extended rights to repay loans and withdrawals, and a deferral of mandatory distributions. Coronavirus-Related Distributions The 10% early distribution penalty from retirement plans and IRAs under Section 72(t) of the Internal Revenue Code ...

Suspending or Reducing Safe Harbor Contributions in Defined Contribution Retirement Plans

In reaction to the current volatility in the economy due to covid-19, we have been receiving a large number of questions from retirement plan sponsors regarding whether it is permissible to suspend or reduce required safe-harbor contributions during the plan year.  Many companies have to reduce their expenses and improve cash flow.  In recent years many of these companies adopted safe harbor ...

IRS Announces 2020 Retirement Plan Limitations

The Internal Revenue Service announced cost-of-living adjustments affecting certain dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related limitations for 2020, as detailed in Notice 2019-59. Please click here for a chart that details the 2019 retirement plan dollar limitation cost-of-living adjustments.

DOL Issues Proposed Regulations Regarding Electronic Disclosure of Pension Plan Information

In 2002, the DOL issued a safe harbor for electronic disclosure that is available only to those participants that have electronic media at work, and those individuals who affirmatively opt in to electronic documentation. There have been calls from many quarters for the DOL to update those regulations to reflect the advances in technology since the 2002 regulations, including an August 2018 ...

Petition For Rehearing and Supporting Amicus Briefs Filed In Schwab ERISA Arbitration Case

In August of this year, a Ninth Circuit three-judge panel ruled in Dorman v. The Charles Schwab Corporation, DC No. 4:17-cv-00285-CW, 2019 WL 3939644 (9th Cir. August 20, 2019) that a plan document's arbitration provision could bar class action allegations of breach of fiduciary duty brought on behalf of the plan under ERISA §502(a)(2). ERISA §502(a)(2) authorizes the Secretary of Labor, ...

When Will a Plan Administrator's Denial of Benefits be an Abuse of Discretion - In Discrete Circumstances Says the Ninth Circuit

Almost every ERISA employee benefit plan contains so-called "Firestone language," which grants discretionary authority to determine eligibility for benefits and construe the terms of a plan. If a plan contains such language, then a plan administrator's interpretation of the plan terms is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard, which, as discussed below, is a standard that participants ...

Supreme Court Amicus Brief Shows How High the Stakes Really are for the Future of ERISA's "Actual Knowledge" Requirement

The battle over what constitutes "actual knowledge" of an ERISA fiduciary breach or violation ratcheted up a notch with the filing of an amicus brief in Sulyma v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, on behalf of several of the largest trade associations in the retirement investment advisory and employee benefits industry. The Intel amicus brief, filed on behalf of large trade ...

Church Plans Revisited

While the church plan exemption from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) has been built into ERISA since its adoption, and the specific provision providing that exemption has not been significantly amended since 1983, it has only been in the last decade or so that there have been a proliferation of cases analyzing whether an employee benefit plan, particularly a ...

DOL Offers Temporary Penalty Relief for All Multiple Employer Plans not Currently in Compliance with the Special MEP Reporting Requirements

Recently, the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) of the Department of Labor (DOL) announced guidance and relief (Field Assistance Bulletin 2019-01) affecting Form 5500 annual report submission for multiple employer plans (MEPs). The relief applies to any MEP that, in plan years 2014 - 2017, failed to submit with its Form 5500, a list of participating employers in the MEP, and a good ...