Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – January 19, 2018


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January 19, 2018


Exclude excepted benefits from group health plan definition for QSEHRAs, benefits association urges IRS

Employers offering plans that provide only excepted benefits should be eligible to establish Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements, or QSEHRAs, according to the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC). The ECFC recently sent a letter to the IRS that included comments on IRS Notice 2017-67, which contained guidance on QSEHRAs, and which advised that a group health plan includes a plan providing only excepted benefits described in Code Sec. 9831(c)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues February 2018 AFRs

The February 2018 short-term, mid-term, and long-term applicable federal interest rates (AFRs) have been issued by the IRS. The February 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 4.07 percent….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Longtime Dow employee replaced after leave gets trial on FMLA retaliation claim

A marketing employee with decades of documented good performance and promotions at Dow, who was removed from her position for purported performance problems and replaced by a male employee (at a higher salary despite his lesser qualifications) after she took medical leave for an eye injury suffered while on business travel, raised triable issues on her FMLA retaliation and state-law disability and gender discrimination claims. Denying summary judgment, the federal district court in Michigan pointed to evidence of animosity by a manager with respect to the employee’s medical leave as well as to the timing of her “redeployment” to another position….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

January 18, 2018


Large employers rank user experience over cost when choosing benefits administration platforms

Cost is not the primary driver for large employers that are assessing strategic health and welfare benefits administration platforms, according to a survey of Fortune 100 companies from brokerage Pacific Resources. In 2017, only 23.9 percent of employers cited cost as the most important factor when selecting a benefits administration platform (down from 64.4 percent in 2016). Instead, large employers prefer a “best-in-class” employee user experience (49 percent) and the ability to integrate benefits technology with human resource functions (37 percent)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

EBSA semiannual regulatory agenda addresses rules on Form 5500 revision, fiduciary relief

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has released its regulatory agenda for Fall 2017, which outlines regulations that have been selected for review or development during the next year….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

January 17, 2018


Legislation would offer 12 weeks’ paid parental leave to Delaware state workers

Delaware Governor John Carney joined members of the General Assembly on January 9 to call for passage of legislation that would offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave to Delaware state workers. The legislation, House Bill 3, would permit state workers to care for their families without losing wages. The Governor announced his support of the measure as lawmakers returned to Dover for the second half of the 149th General Assembly….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRA balances increase from 2010 to 2015: EBRI

The overall individual retirement account (IRA) balance increased 36.1 percent from 2010 to 2015, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The survey, Individual Retirement Account Balances, Contributions, Withdrawals, and Asset Allocation Longitudinal Results 2010–2015, shows that there were significantly higher balances in the sample of individuals who continuously owned IRAs from 2010 to 2015….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

January 16, 2018


Notice sent to employee’s old address satisfied COBRA requirements

A COBRA notice sent to a former employee’s old address satisfied the requirements of ERISA Sec. 606 because the old address was the only one, at the time, that the former employer had on file, according to the U.S. District Court for the District of Ohio (DC-OH). The former employee’s COBRA claim was dismissed by the court, along with his claims for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) violations, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful termination….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

TE/GE procedures for issuing rulings updated

The IRS has updated its procedures for employee plans to obtain guidance on issues under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (TE/GE) Employee Plans Rulings and Agreements Office. The procedure also details the types of advice available to taxpayers, and the manner in which such advice is requested and provided. Changes are made throughout the updated procedure to reflect the restructure of the pre-approved plan program previously announced in Rev. Proc. 2017-41, including provisions relating to opinion letter applications with respect to a plan’s third and subsequent six-year remedial amendment cycles. Certain opinion and advisory letter applications for defined contribution and defined benefit master and prototype (M&S) plans and volume submission (VS) plans that may still be submitted pursuant to Rev. Proc. 2015-36 with respect to cycles prior to the third six-year remedial amendment cycle are retained….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

January 15, 2018


Federal interest rates announced for pensions

The following interest rates have been announced for use in the operation and administration of qualified pension plans….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC issues February 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 February 2018 is .75 percent, the same rate that applied in January 2018….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »