Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – October 20, 2017

 

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News

October 20, 2017

 

GAO says better future retirement security requires comprehensive re-evaluation

A recently-released report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) contains a warning that the U.S. retirement system is facing major challenges. Part of the reason for this, according to the report, is that traditional pensions have become much less common, and individuals are increasingly responsible for planning and managing their own retirement savings accounts, such as 401(k) plans….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues November 2017 AFRs

The November 2017 short-term, mid-term, and long-term applicable federal interest rates (AFRs) have been issued by the IRS. The November 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 3.51 percent….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

October 19, 2017

 

2018 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment will be 2 percent

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a 2 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits received by beneficiaries starting in January 2018. This COLA will produce an estimated average monthly benefit of $1,404 for all retired workers in 2018, $27 a month more than in 2017….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS updates defined benefit mortality table regs

The IRS has issued final regulations prescribing general mortality tables to be used by most defined benefit pension plans that replace the 2008 mortality table regulations. The tables specify the probability of survival year-by-year for an individual based on age, gender, and other factors. This information is used (together with other actuarial assumptions) to calculate the present value of a stream of expected future benefit payments for purposes of determining the minimum funding requirements for a defined benefit plan. These mortality tables are also relevant in determining the minimum required amount of a lump-sum distribution from such a plan….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues plan-specific substitute table procedures, updated static mortality tables

In conjunction with the October 5, 2017 final regulations, the IRS has issued the procedures to be used by defined benefit plan sponsors to request approval from the IRS for the use of plan-specific substitute mortality tables in accordance with Code Sec. 430(h)(3)(C) and IRS Reg. Sec. 1.430(h)(3)-2….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

October 18, 2017

 

Employee fired while on leave, not allowed to telecommute, advances FMLA and ADA claims

An employer who fired a marketing employee with longstanding health conditions while she was on extended FMLA leave, purportedly because of prior poor performance and her inability to work in the office, will face trial on a myriad of claims. Denying its motion for summary judgment, a federal court in Missouri found triable issues existed as to whether the employee was denied FMLA leave and fired for exercising her FMLA rights, whether being at the office was an essential function of her job that she could not perform due to her disability, and whether telecommuting would have been a reasonable accommodation….

        (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) »

PBGC issues November 2017 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating October through December 2017, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.34 percent, down from the 2.44 percent rate that applied in July through September 2017. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in November 2017 is .75 percent, the same rate that applied in October 2017….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

October 17, 2017

 

Annual Aflac study shows employees continue to lack understanding when it comes to benefits enrollment

Aflac has released the 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report (AWR), which shows that American workers may feel more confident about benefits choices, while admitting a lack of understanding regarding the choices being made. A separate Aflac study found younger workers who may be making benefits decisions for the first time also lack knowledge of health insurance coverage but want to branch out and make independent benefits decisions….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Trump terminates CSR payments

Hours after the President signed an Executive Order directing agencies to consider changes to the regulations implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the White House also announced the termination of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies participating in the ACA’s exchanges. The Trump Administration concluded that, because Congress has made no appropriation for CSR payments, it is unlawful to continue and it will not make the next payment on October 18. The policy change was also announced in a Notice filed October 13, 2017, in the D.C. Circuit Court in U.S. House of Representatives v. Hargan, a lawsuit alleging the illegality of CSR payments on the basis of a lack of appropriation….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

October 16, 2017

 

Trump suggests regulatory changes, possibly undermining ACA protections & market stability

President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) on Thursday, October 12, 2017, directing agencies to make changes to the requirements for some types of health insurance plans, which he says will improve access, increase choices, and lower costs for health care. Experts disagree, however, and say the EO will destabilize the health insurance market and undermine the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) protections and coverage requirements….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Worker not entitled to multi-month leave after FMLA exhaustion; extended absence not reasonable accommodation

An employee’s request for a multi-month medical leave of absence following his exhaustion of FMLA leave was beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, the Seventh Circuit ruled in affirming dismissal of his ADA claim on summary judgment. Though the EEOC filed a brief as amicus curiae urging for reversal, the appeals court rejected its assertion that long-term leave should be considered a reasonable accommodation when certain circumstances are met, since adopting such a position would transform the ADA into a medical-leave statute, which was “an untenable interpretation of the term ‘reasonable accommodation….'”

        (Read Intelliconnect) »