Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – February 23, 2018


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February 23, 2018


Sixth Circuit can’t create ambiguity in CBA to find vested lifetime healthcare benefits, High Court says

The Supreme Court has reversed and remanded a decision in which the Sixth Circuit held that the same “Yard-Man” inferences it once used to presume lifetime vesting could be used “to render a collective bargaining agreement ambiguous as a matter of law, thus allowing courts to consult extrinsic evidence about lifetime vesting.” That approach was inconsistent with the High Court’s decision in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, which required ordinary principles of contract law to be applied to CBAs. Because Yard-Man inferences are not “ordinary principles of contract law,” stressed the Court in an unsigned opinion, they can’t be used to support more than one “reasonable interpretation” of a contract to create an ambiguity and bring in extrinsic evidence….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

National health expenditure growth expected to average 5.5 percent annually from 2017-2026

National health expenditure growth is expected to average 5.5 percent annually over 2017-2026, according to a report from the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Growth in national health spending is projected to be faster than projected growth in gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.0 percentage point over 2017-2026. As a result, the report projects the health share of GDP to rise from 17.9 percent in 2016 to 19.7 percent by 2026….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

February 22, 2018


DOL investigation results in sentencing of former Connecticut resident for theft of benefit checks

After an investigation by the DOL’s EBSA and Office of Inspector General (OIG), Yolanda Silverio, a former eligibility coordinator for a Connecticut company that administers trust funds for public and private sector health benefit plans, has been sentenced by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut to 10 months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. The court has also ordered Silverio to pay $35,461.34 in restitution, perform 150 hours of community service, and notify any future employers in writing of her two prior fraud convictions….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues March 2018 AFRs

The March 2018 short-term, mid-term, and long-term applicable federal interest rates (AFRs) have been issued by the IRS. The March mid-term 175 percent AFR (Annual) rate, used to calculate interest charged to the funding standard account for underpayments of quarterly contributions under Code Sec. 412(m), is 4.51 percent….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC announces OMB approval of new forms for missing participant programs

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has announced that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved a new collection of information consisting of new forms and instructions for the PBGC’s missing participant programs….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

February 21, 2018


Proposed rule would allow short-term, limited-duration health insurance for longer periods

The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and the Treasury (the Departments) have issued a proposed rule that would amend the definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance to lengthen the maximum period of such insurance. Consumers would be allowed to buy plans providing coverage for any period of less than 12 months, rather than the current maximum period of less than three months….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Federal budget agreement includes a number of retirement-related provisions

President Trump on February 9, 2018, signed the Bipartisan Budget Act (P.L. 115-123) into law after a brief government shutdown occurred overnight. The House approved the legislation, which contains a continuing resolution to fund the government and federal agencies through March 23, 2018, in the early morning hours of February 9, by a 240- to-186 vote. The Senate approved the bipartisan measure just before by a 71- to-28 vote. Among the retirement provisions in the new law are items relating to hardship withdrawals, disaster relief, and improper levies on retirement plans. Another provision creates a bipartisan Joint Select Committee to attempt to deal with multiemployer plan solvency issues. Many of the retirement provisions included in the budget deal had previously been included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97) enacted late in 2017, but were dropped before final passage of that 2017 legislation….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

February 20, 2018


Democratic staff of Joint Economic Committee warns Americans’ retirement security is headed for disaster

Americans’ retirement future is shaky and Congress must immediately enact policies to secure it, according to a February 2018 report from the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee. Challenges to planning and saving for retirement include inadequate savings, stagnant wages, and limited access to low-cost and high return accounts, according to the recently-released “Retirement Security in Peril….”

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Employee participation in defined contribution plans increases: PSCA

More defined contribution (DC) and 401k plan participants (84.9 percent) made contributions in 2016 than in previous years, according to a recent survey from the Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA). The PSCA’s 60th Annual Survey reflects the 2016 plan-year experience of 590 defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors, and found that Roth availability has doubled in the last decade and the use of automatic enrollment and auto-escalation have shown consistent, significant increases as well….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC issues March 2018 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating January through March 2018, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.39 percent, up from the 2.34 percent rate that applied in October through December 2017. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in March 2018 is .75 percent, the same rate that applied in February 2018….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »