Welfare Benefit Plan ERISA News
June 2017

Could Your Incentive Plan Be Subject to ERISA?

"Many incentive or bonus plans make payments or deliver stock within 2-1/2 months after the end of the year the participant became vested in order comply with the short-term deferral exception of Code Section 409A. However, some incentive plans provide for accumulations, multi-year periods, and mandatory deferrals. These plans may unwittingly become subject to ERISA's requirements." (Winston & Strawn LLP)

COBRA and Second Qualifying Events
- When Does the Clock Start?
"If the initial qualifying event that triggers an individual's COBRA rights is terminating employment or reducing hours of employment, subsequent qualifying events may result in an extension of the maximum COBRA coverage period for certain qualified beneficiaries.... Note that a covered employee is not a qualified beneficiary with respect to any 36-month qualifying event. Therefore, the expanded period that applies in connection with a second qualifying event will not apply to a covered employee but only to the spouse or a dependent child of a covered employee." But, does the extended COBRA coverage to which the dependent would be entitled run from the date of the second qualifying event or from the employee's termination date? (Willis Towers Watson)

Back to Basics - Costly Consequences of Ignoring Process in Benefits Administration

"The stories of an employer and a long-term disability insurer and claims fiduciary for an ERISA plan, defendants in two recent cases, ring so true. In the first case the insurer was designated as claims fiduciary for an employer's long-term disability plan, and ended up in litigation with the least friendly standard of review - de novo review - of the disability benefit determination. This happened because the claims administrator failed to timely respond to the employee's challenge of the amount of disability benefits awarded. In the second case, the employer had to pay a $750,000 death benefit due to its failure to notify a disabled, and then terminated, employee of his right and the process to convert his group life insurance policy to an individual policy. This failure was coupled with assurances from human resources to the former employee's spouse that nothing more was required to ensure that all benefits would continue, and was found to be a breach of the employer's fiduciary duty."
"Neither case involved difficult ERISA concepts, and neither set new precedent. They drew our attention because both involved seemingly small and avoidable mistakes with costly implications for well-meaning employers or administrators." (Stinson, Leonard, Street)
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© 2017 ERISAPros, LLC, All rights reserved. Information on ERISAPros' website, its newsletter, “News & Views,” and its blog, “ERISA Wonk,” is published as a general informational source. Information and articles are general in nature and are not intended to constitute legal or tax advice in any particular matter. Blog posts and comments reflect the personal views of their respective authors - not those of ERISAPros. Transmission of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. ERISAPros, LLC is not a law firm and is not giving legal or tax advice. It does not warrant and is not responsible for errors or omissions in the content on its website or in its newsletters. ERISA is a complicated and confusing law. Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs), Wrap Plan Documents, and Form 5500s require review and updating by qualified ERISA compliance professionals.


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