Spencer Benefits Reports NetNews – April 10, 2015


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April 10, 2015


CalPERS Exploring Options To Avoid ACA’s Cadillac Tax

Employer and employee groups are urging the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to explore options to avoid the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) excise tax on high-cost plans (also known as the Cadillac tax). CalPERS currently provides health benefits to more than 1.3 million public employees, retirees, and their families. A preliminary report on just two CalPERS plans shows the two high-cost plans would be penalized an estimated $3.9 million annually under the excise tax….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Unambiguous Plan Terms Defeat Estoppel Claim Regarding Service Credit Computation

Despite its repeated written assurances to an employee that years of service with other employers would be included in his credited service for his pension benefit amount, an employer was not equitably estopped under ERISA Sec. 502(a)(3) from ultimately calculating the pension benefit based only on years of service with the employer, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in
Guerra-Delgado v. Popular, Inc. The court determined that the plan’s rules regarding crediting years of service were unambiguous. Ambiguity in plan terms is required to support an ERISA estoppel claim…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

April 9, 2015


Trade Association Urges Passage Of Act Providing Employers With Certainty For Wellness Strategies

Employer sponsorship of wellness programs depends on continued congressional support, representatives of the American Benefits Council (the Council) recently told the
House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. The Council expressed support for the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1189), introduced by Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and cosponsored by Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN)…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

DC Plan Participants Continue To Move Towards Target Date Funds

Defined contribution (DC) retirement plan participants continued their move toward target date funds in 2014, according to Northern Trust’s third annual DC Tracker, which noted that nearly one-third of cash flows were invested in the multi-asset class funds during the year. Among core investment options, U.S. equities were the favorite asset class, attracting 19 percent of net flows based on participant investment elections in the DC Tracker universe of 100 plans, as of Dec. 31, 2014…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


April 8, 2015


Mental Health Parity Journey Continues On Long And Winding Road

Although progress is being made in achieving parity between mental health/substance use treatment and medical/surgical benefits, there’s a long way to go. That’s according to a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The report was based on a survey of 2,720 consumers and an analysis of 84 insurance plans in 15 states…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


IRS Modifies 2013 Version Of EPCRS To Provide Improvements And Updates

In Rev. Proc. 2015-27, the IRS has modified the updated version of Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) in Rev. Proc. 2013-12. The EPCRS permits plan sponsors to correct certain plan qualification failures and thereby continue to provide their employees with retirement benefits on a tax-favored basis. The components of EPCRS are the Self-Correction Program (SCP), the Voluntary Correction Program (VCP), and the Audit Closing Agreement Program (Audit CAP). Rev. Proc. 2013-12 updated the prior consolidated statement of the correction programs under EPCRS issued in 2008. The IRS is making limited modifications and clarifications to Rev. Proc. 2013-12 to improve and update EPCRS, which are generally effective July 1, 2015. However, plan sponsors may apply the provisions of the new revenue procedure on or after March 27, 2015. Rev. Proc. 2013-12 is modified, but not superseded…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


April 7, 2015


Employer And Employee Contributions To HSAs Decreasing

Two recent surveys found that both employer and employee contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) have been decreasing over the last several years…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Employer Association Urges House To Pass Act To Ax Cadillac Tax

A piece of legislation that would repeal the 40 percent Cadillac tax is receiving support from the HR Policy Association (HR Policy), which represents chief human resource officers of over 360 large U.S. corporations. The Ax the Tax on Middle Class Americans’ Health Plans Act (H.R. 879) was introduced February 11, 2015, and HR Policy sent a letter to Congress urging its passage…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


PBGC Properly Declined To Recognize Post-Termination PPA-Related Amendment Reducing Benefits

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) did not abuse its discretion when it declined to give retroactive effect to a post-termination plan amendment authorized by the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) that reduced the value of benefits under the plan, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in
PBGC v. Kentucky Bancshares, Inc. Thus, the PBGC could enforce its determination under ERISA Sec. 4041 that the plan had failed to pay all benefit liabilities due under the terms of the plan as they existed on the date of termination…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


April 6, 2015


Grassley Vows To Fix Small Business Reimbursement Policy Under ACA

A number of small businesses continue to be unaware that they are no longer permitted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide a benefit to their employees that many have provided for years—reimbursing their employees for the cost of health insurance purchased on the individual market. Senate Finance Committee Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) addressed the issue during a recent committee hearing on where the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) stands after five years…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »


Equitable Surcharge Remedy May Be Available To Participant Who Mistakenly Received Benefits

A non-vested pension plan participant who mistakenly received monthly benefits for three years before the plan discovered its error may be entitled to relief under ERISA Sec. 502(a)(3) via the equitable remedy of surcharge for the fund’s alleged breach of fiduciary duty, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in
Gabriel v. Alaska Electrical Pension Fund. The Ninth Circuit has withdrawn its prior opinion issued in June 2014 in which it held the participant failed to show he was entitled to any equitable relief…

        (Read Intelliconnect) »