About this Newsletter
The Spencer’s Benefits Reports is a summary of the week’s news items posted
in the WHAT’S NEW pages of Spencer’s Benefits Reports
For questions regarding this email service, contact Customer Service at (800)449-9525.
Want to receive these Newsletters via E-mail?
About Links in this Newsletter
To access the IntelliConnect™ full text documents you must be a subscriber
to the Spencer’s Benefits Reports IntelliConnect product
(depending on the link*).
Links within news stories display full text documents including legislation, regulations,
court decisions, rulings and government reports.
The first time you click on a link you will be taken to the IntelliConnect login page, where you will need to enter your ID and password. Subsequent links will take you directly to the desired document.
If you aren’t a subscriber call 800-449-9525, or let us contact you about,
Contact us by sending an e-mail to
- Analysis: Interest Rates For Funding Calculations, 3/15 (101.2.-7)
- Survey: Monthly Retirement Plan Interest Rates, 3/15 (101.2.-1)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
- Analysis: ADA Does Not Prohibit Termination Of Disabled Employee, 3/15 (406.04.-1)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
- Court Cases: Benefits, Reemployment Rights To Military Reservists, 3/15 (403.-19)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
IRS Issues Special Rule To Exclude Expatriate Health Plans From Annual Fee On Health Insurers
In Notice 2015-29, the IRS has provided a special rule to exclude expatriate health plans from the annual fee imposed on insurers of U.S. health risks for the 2014 and 2015 fee years. The fee is imposed by section 9010 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Expatriate policies are defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as group health insurance policies that provide coverage to employees, substantially all of whom are: (1) working outside their country of citizenship; (2) working outside their country of citizenship and outside the employer’s country of domicile; or (3) non-U.S. citizens working in their home country….
Supreme Court Grants Review Of “Equitable Relief” Case Involving Dissipated Funds
The Supreme Court has agreed to review the Eleventh Circuit’s ruling in an unpublished opinion regarding the meaning of “equitable relief” under ERISA Sec. 502(a)(3). The petition for certiorari indicates that there is a 6-2 circuit split on the issue and that the question presented “requires a uniform national answer.” The case is
Robert Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan (No. 14-723)…
Insurers Likely Won’t Be Required To Use New SBC Templates Until 2017
In December 2014, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (the Departments) proposed new rules regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) required Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). In addition, the Departments released new proposed SBC templates and other related documents. According to the recently released
FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XXIV), the Departments believe that the new templates and related documents will not be effective until the start of the 2017 plan year…
MLR Year 3: Consumers Benefit To Tune Of $5 Billion
More than $5 billion in benefits were realized by consumers from 2011 through 2013 under the medical loss ratio (MLR) provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In a newly issued report by The Commonwealth Fund, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Wake Forest School of Law reviewed insurers’ filings with CMS, finding that the MLR provision did not substantially affect competition in health insurance markets or the choice of insurance plans available for consumers….
EBSA Rule Adds Deadline Flexibility For 401(k) Plans Providing Annual Investment Information To Participants
The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued a direct final rule and a companion proposed rule that provide a two-month grace period for participant-directed individual account plans—e.g., 401(k) plans—to furnish annual plan and investment-related information (including fee and expense information) to participants. The final rule and proposed rule were published in the March 19
IRS Extends Temporary Nondiscrimination Relief For Closed DB Plans
The IRS has extended for an additional year the temporary relief provided in IRS Notice 2014-5 for certain closed defined benefit (DB) pension plans (i.e., plans that are closed to new entrants as of a specified date, but continue to provide ongoing accruals for existing participants). Closing a DB plan can often coincide with an amendment that provides new or greater contributions under a defined contribution (DC) plan that is intended to replace accruals under the DB plan for new hires or other employees to whom the DB plan is closed…
Wellness Program Incentives On The Rise
Employers will spend an average of $693 per employee on wellness-based incentives in 2015, up from $594 in 2014 and $430 five years ago, according to recent research from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). However, the survey found that many employees are not taking full advantage of these programs and earning all of their incentives. Fewer than half (47 percent) of employees earned their full incentive amount in 2014, while 26 percent earned a partial amount. Together, this translates into millions of dollars of unclaimed incentives…
For Some, Affordable Coverage Hard To Find With Or Without Tax Credit
Auditors from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the tax credit for advance payment of premiums (APTC) probably made insurance affordable for many people. Still, in some areas, for some age groups, there was no affordable coverage available, even at incomes well above 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) the limit for the credit…
Majority Of Employers Have Not Considered Cutting Employee Hours Due To ACA
The majority of U.S. organizations (72 percent) have not considered reducing employee hours for part-time workers as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate that employees working 30 hours a week be offered health care coverage, according to recent research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). However, the
Health Care Reform Survey—2015 Update found that 14 percent of employers have already reduced hours for part-timers and another 6 percent plan to do so….
Telephonic Beneficiary Designation OK; Written Forms Not “Plan Documents” Under ERISA
Beneficiary designation forms used by a company’s ERISA retirement plans are not “plan documents” governing the plan administrators’ award of benefits under ERISA Sec. 404(a)(1)(D), the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in
Mays-Williams v. Williams, in a case of first impression. Thus, the district court erred when it determined as a matter of law that an unmarried participant failed to change his named beneficiary from his ex-wife to his son because he used the telephone to make the change, rather than sign and return beneficiary designation forms that had been sent to him…