Spencer’s Benefits NetNews June 16, 2017


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Featured This Week


New Reports




June 16, 2017


SHRM survey respondents believe taxing insurance contributions will raise health care costs for employees

A majority of respondents to a new Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey anticipate that employees will pay more for health insurance if Congress decides to tax insurance contributions. As the Trump administration and Congress negotiate elements of health care and tax reform, there likely could be changes to the tax treatment of employer-sponsored health benefits. Currently, premiums that employers pay for health insurance are exempt from federal and payroll taxes, and employee premiums are not considered taxable income….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC issues July 2017 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating July through September 2017, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.44 percent, up from the 2.15 percent rate that applied in April through June 2017….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

AHCA would return 50- to 64-year-olds to pre-ACA era

Adults in their fifties and early sixties could see their health care coverage change drastically if the American Health Care Act (AHCA), passed by the House on May 4, becomes law, according to an issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis of the AHCA projected that in 2026, 10 million 50- to 64-year-olds would be uninsured, 5.1 million more than would be under the current law. “Steep increases” in premiums would affect this age group leading up to that time and there would be ripple effects on the Medicare program. Older adults with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level would be disproportionately affected by the AHCA changes….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

June 15, 2017


More than 50 groups urge Senate to preserve employer-sponsored health benefits

More than 50 business organizations sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging them to protect the employer-sponsored health insurance system by repealing Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)-created taxes and preserving improvements to consumer-driven health options proposed in the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Claims against pension fund over cancelled credits preempted by RLA, but claims against union remain

The Railway Labor Act preempted claims by former World Airways employees that a union pension plan and their union committed fraud, breach of contract and violation of an employee benefit plan when their pre-1996 past service credits were cancelled, ruled the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. However, because those claims had a close resemblance to claims brought pursuant to ERISA, the appeals court found it appropriate to borrow ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations, rather than the six-month limitations period the district court borrowed from Section 10(b) of the NLRA. As a result, the appeals court vacated the district court’s dismissal of the RLA claims against the union….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

June 14, 2017


Walmart employee did not timely submit medical certification, so FMLA claims fail

A Walmart meat department employee who was injured in a fall and denied a transfer to lighter duty failed to submit a properly requested medical certification that would support her request for FMLA leave, so could not avail herself of FMLA protections, ruled a federal district court in Texas, granting summary judgment in part. The employee’s sex discrimination claim failed as well because the denial of a lateral transfer was not an adverse employment action. However, her termination, together with evidence that managers wanted to hire younger workers for her department sustained her age discrimination claim under the ADEA. The court declined to rule on the ADA claim, finding that further briefing was needed on whether lifting restriction constituted a disability….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Electronic payment of user fees starts June 15, replaces paying by check

The IRS has announced that taxpayers should make user fee payments electronically using the federal government’s Pay.gov system, starting June 15, 2017, when requesting letter rulings, closing agreements, and certain other rulings. Taxpayers can choose to make user fee payments either through Pay.gov or by check or money order during a two-month transition period, June 15 through August 15, 2017. However, Pay.gov will be the only permissible payment method after August 15, 2017. Pay.gov is used to accept payments only. The original, signed ruling request and supporting materials must still be submitted to the IRS by mail or hand delivery….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

June 13, 2017


HHS seeks comments on reducing ACA regulatory requirements for individual and small group markets

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking recommendations and input from the public on how to create a more flexible, streamlined approach to the regulatory structure of the individual and small group markets. HHS’ goal through this process is to identify and eliminate or change regulations that are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective; impose costs that exceed benefits; or create inconsistencies that otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

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) »

Proposal would kill fiduciary rule but still impose best interest requirements

On June 8, Reps. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) introduced the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act, which proponents say would “protect access to affordable retirement advice by overturning the Obama administration’s flawed fiduciary rule while ensuring retirement advisors serve the best interests of their clients.” On May 22, the Department of Labor confirmed that its controversial fiduciary rule—which created new “best interest” requirements—will move forward, with partial compliance with its conflicts of interest provisions taking effect on June 9, 2017….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

June 12, 2017


RDS amounts and Medicare Part D Benefit Parameters for 2018 are issued by CMS

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued the Cost Threshold and Cost Limit amounts for Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) plan years ending in 2018, for plan sponsors participating in the RDS program. The Cost Threshold amount is $405 and the Cost Limit amount is $8,350….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Often-absent employee raised triable issue on whether termination constituted FMLA retaliation

A shift supervisor, whose employment record was replete with absences due to ailments and injuries to himself and his wife and daughter, advanced his claim that his termination was in retaliation for taking FMLA leave for a wrist injury, ruled a federal district court in Kentucky. While the employer had evidence that he was terminated for excessive absenteeism after being repeatedly warned, the employee raised a genuine dispute of material fact that his absences were covered by the employer’s policies on FMLA leave, sick/personal days and shift-trading. Accordingly, summary judgment was denied as to the employee’s FMLA retaliation claim; but granted as to his FMLA interference, disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and state law claims….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »