In 2018, the Auditing Standards Board (ASB) of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) changed the audit standards applicable to audits of financial statements of employee benefit plans subject to ERISA. These standards impact what is currently known as “limited-scope audits.” Initially, the new standards were to apply to audits of plan years ending on or after December 15, 2020, which means they would apply to 2020 plan year audits performed in 2021. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AICPA changed the effective date of the standards to plan years ending after December 15, 2021, extending the implementation of the standards for one year. Plan sponsors of plans subject to ERISA should be aware of the new responsibilities the standards impose on auditors, as these changes also indirectly create new responsibilities for plan sponsors.
On November 10, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held oral arguments in California, et. al. v. Texas, et. al., the most recent challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
When the CARES Act was enacted, we wrote about its provisions that impact retirement plans and provide relief to plan sponsors and plan participants. Recently, pursuant to Section 2202 of the CARES Act, the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2020-50 on coronavirus-related distributions and plan loans from eligible retirement plans. Notice 2020-50 provides guidance to employers on several subjects associated with coronavirus-related distributions and plan loans, including the following:
Greensfelder Officer Amy Blaisdell recently co-authored an article in For the Defense, a publication of the Defense Research Institute (DRI), about lessons employers should keep in mind when defending against disability benefits claims that lack objective medical evidence. The article, titled “Objective Versus Subjective Evidence in the ERISA Claims-Handling Process,” was published in the August 2020 edition.
Even though it is rare for participants and service providers in a 401(k) plan to become involved in litigation, it does happen. Always be prepared for the worst situation, and you will be ahead of the game. In the April 2020 edition of 401(k) Advisor, Jeffrey Herman identifies the basic standards that apply to 401(k) plan litigation. Click here to read the full article in the publication.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant burdens for employers and employees alike. While some businesses struggle to survive, others are fortunate enough to be in a position to help employees as they face hardships created by the crisis. Many employers in the latter category are looking for ways to best help employees who are facing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic.
One possible approach for these employers is a disaster relief fund under Section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. Section 139 disaster relief funds allow employers to make qualified disaster relief payments to employees to help with certain expenses they incur as a result of a qualified disaster.
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. The CARES Act includes the following provisions that impact retirement plans and provide relief to plan sponsors and plan participants.
- Participants may take “coronavirus-related distributions” from qualified retirement plans.
- A coronavirus-related distribution is exempt from the 10 percent penalty that otherwise applies to early distributions from qualified retirement plans.
A poorly drafted contract with a service provider can spell doom for a retirement plan in a worst-case scenario. All provider contracts should be carefully reviewed and negotiated to ensure the maximum possible protection for your retirement plan. In the September 2019 edition of 401(k) Advisor, attorney Jeff Herman addresses some of the specific concerns and provisions to watch out for in your contracts. Click here to read the full article in the publication.
Retirement accounts are a seemingly simple and effective way to protect assets from future creditors, but the subtle nuances of what is protected under Missouri law and what is protected in bankruptcy can be complex. In the July/August 2019 edition of the Journal of the Missouri Bar, attorneys Keith Herman and Jeffrey Herman analyze how you can use retirement accounts for asset protection and the potential loopholes to avoid.
A U.S. Court of Appeals determined that arbitration on an individual basis is the proper forum for a participant’s claim that Charles Schwab breached its fiduciary duties and engaged in prohibited transaction under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by holding proprietary funds in its 401(k) plan.