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: Privacy standards under HIPAA, 10/16 (502.-1)
- Analysis: Outsourcing benefits administration, 10/16 (420.-9)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
- Analysis: Prudent man rule, 10/16 (605.-25)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
- Survey: IRS monthly segment rates, 10/16 (101.2.-9)
(Read Intelliconnect) »
Colorado employers report Amendment 69’s “ColoradoCare” would be bad for business
Most Colorado-based employers believe “ColoradoCare” would have a negative impact on their organizations, according to a recent poll by Mercer. The poll of employer health plan sponsors in Colorado reveals how they view Amendment 69, the state constitutional ballot initiative to create a single-payer health plan known as “ColoradoCare,” and how they might respond if it were passed. Respondents expressed little support for the amendment and many concerns about its impact. A strong majority—82 percent—believe that ColoradoCare would have a negative impact on their organizations, and about a third (34 percent) say they would be less likely to expand operations in the state if it passed….
IRS issues November 2016 AFRs
The November 2016 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 2.34 percent….
2017 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment will be 0.3 percent
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a 0.3 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits received by beneficiaries starting in January 2017….
Aon experts provide strategies for optimizing health care choices in 2017
Open enrollment is here, and millions of U.S. employees will be making decisions about their 2017 benefits. “The average employee spent more than $5,000 in premiums and out-of-pocket costs this year, yet most take just 5 to 8 minutes to choose their health benefits. Employee and family health care needs can change from year to year and there may be new benefit choices available that are a better fit. However, 88 percent of employees surveyed indicated they are likely to re-enroll in the same health plan,” notes Craig Rosenberg, Health and Welfare Benefits Administration Practice Leader at Aon Hewitt. “Employees should use this time to understand all of the benefit programs their employer offers and assess their short- and long-term health and financial needs. Doing so will help them make confident decisions on how to maximize the value they are getting from their health benefits….”
OSHA finalizes ACA whistleblower and retaliation rule
OSHA has issued final regulations governing whistleblower and retaliation claims under Section 1558 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which added Section 18C to the FLSA. These regulations provide protections to employees who may have been subject to retaliation for seeking assistance under certain affordability assistance provisions, such as health insurance premium tax credits, or for reporting potential violations of the ACA’s consumer protections, such as the prohibition on rescissions….
Insurers must defend health plan administrator against beneficiaries’ class action suits
A group of professional liability insurers had an obligation to defend a managed care company in litigation stemming from the insured’s handling of out-of-network health care claims, a California appellate court ruled. The underlying complaints included claims asserting breaches of fiduciary duty, which presented the possibility that the insured would be held liable for extracontractual monetary damages under ERISA’s “appropriate equitable relief” provision. According to the court, this was sufficient to trigger the insurers’ duty to defend….
Federal interest rates announced for pensions
The following interest rates have been announced for use in the operation and administration of qualified pension plans…
PBGC issues November 2016 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans
For single-employer pension plans terminating October through December 2016, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 1.98 percent, down from the 2.50 percent rate that applied in July through September 2016….
Employer had discretion to terminate former employee’s disability benefits where it had substantial evidence of no ongoing disability
An employer had no duty to continue providing long-term disability benefits to a former employee, a federal court in Arkansas ruled. The court granted the employer’s motion for judgment and dismissed the employee’s complaint, finding that the employer had conducted a full and fair review of the employee’s medical condition and had reasonably concluded that she was not disabled under the employee benefits plan….
Payments for union board service not “compensation” for benefits purposes
A union pension fund’s denial of a participant’s appeal requesting that quarterly payments he received for serving on the union executive board be categorized as “compensation” for benefit purposes was not arbitrary or capricious, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled. The court noted that the benefit plan defined compensation only as salary, while the payments for the board service were paid separately from the participant’s weekly salary and were coded differently in the payroll system….
Why Hispanic workers lag behind others in retirement plan participation
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Hispanic workers are less likely than other American workers to have the opportunity to participate in retirement plans. The EPI adds that, consequently, Hispanic workers lag far behind other workers in retirement plan participation….
Banks not subject to liability as fiduciaries for manipulation of foreign exchange transactions involving plan assets
Banks that conducted illegal foreign exchange transactions involving the ERISA-protected assets of defined contribution and defined benefit plans were not liable under ERISA for breaches of fiduciary duty or prohibited transaction, according to a federal trial court in New York. The banks were not named fiduciaries in any of the plans and did not exercise discretionary control over plan assets in implementing the transactions that was sufficient to subject them to liability under ERISA….