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Brian J. Tiemann counsels public and private companies on a broad range of employee benefit matters, including matters related to pension plans, 401(k) plans and executive and incentive compensation. He advises plan fiduciaries with respect to their fiduciary duties, investment policies and alternative investments. He also advises multinational clients on global employee benefits matters, particularly with respect to global incentive compensation plans. Brian has extensive experience negotiating investment management agreements and service provider agreements. Read Brian Tiemann's full bio.

On Monday, November 27, 2017, the Social Security Administration announced (announcement here) that the it is lowering the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax for 2018 to $128,400.  The Social Security Administration had previously announced the amount as $128,700.  The revision is the result of updated wage data reported to Social Security.  Our On The Subject article has been updated to reflect the lower amount.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced the cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for various employer-sponsored retirement and welfare plans for 2018. Although some of the dollar limits currently in effect for 2017 will remain the same, the majority of the limits will experience minor increases for 2018.

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Since the announcement by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that sponsors of individually designed retirement plans may no longer receive a periodic determination letter, plan sponsors have faced uncertainty about how to demonstrate compliance for their retirement plans. Our McDermott Retirement Plan Compliance Program, a new opinion letter and operational review program for individually designed 401(a) and 403(b) retirement plans, will allow plan sponsors to document their plans’ compliance with tax code requirements in response to the curtailment of the IRS’ determination letter program.

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The future of the fiduciary rule—originally set to be implemented this upcoming April—remains uncertain after the White House directed the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to reevaluate, defer implementation and consider rescinding the controversial new fiduciary rule on February 3, 2017. In response to the White House, the acting US Secretary of Labor announced that the DOL will now consider its legal options to delay the applicability date to comply with the President’s directive. McDermott’s ERISA practice will closely monitor these developments and provide additional guidance as it becomes available.

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The future of the fiduciary rule—originally set to be implemented this upcoming April—remains uncertain after the White House directed the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to reevaluate, defer implementation and consider rescinding the controversial new fiduciary rule on February 3, 2017. In response to the White House, the acting US Secretary of Labor announced that the DOL will now consider its legal options to delay the applicability date to comply with the President’s directive. McDermott’s ERISA practice will closely monitor these developments and provide additional guidance as it becomes available.

Read full article here.

As employers have moved away from traditional defined benefit plans toward defined contribution plans as the primary retirement savings vehicle for their employees, much has been written about the risks of shifting the retirement savings burden from the employer to the employee. One widely-recognized consequence of this shift in retirement savings methods is that many employees are not contributing enough of their income, or earning high enough returns on their investments, to provide sufficient funds to meet their retirement needs through defined contribution plans. Many plan sponsors have responded to this concern by adding features to their defined contribution plans, such as automatic enrollment, automatic annual increases of employee deferral percentages and increased matching contributions, in order to encourage employees to save more for retirement.

Another consequence of this shift to defined contribution plans that has received less attention is that employees who suffer long-term disability are left without the retirement safety net that often has been provided under defined benefit plans. Employees typically lose the ability to continue making contributions to a defined contribution plan upon becoming disabled and often rely on their retirement savings under a defined contribution plan to meet their current income needs. While the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) and the regulations thereunder provide a framework for incorporating long-term disability benefits into defined contribution plans, these benefits have yet to become widely adopted by plan sponsors, perhaps partially due to inconsistent guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) and uncertainly on the part of plan sponsors regarding how such benefits can be implemented in practice. However, as employers continue to limit, and in some cases terminate, defined benefit plans, it will become more pressing to turn these theoretical frameworks into workable solutions to provide an important benefit for disabled employees.

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On Monday, October 24, Chicago partners Todd Solomon and Brian Tiemann will speak at the Association of Financial Professionals conference in Orlando, Florida. Joined by Kendall Frederick, Senior Manager of Finance Integration at Hanesbrands Inc., the panel will discuss how to use financial planning and analysis analytics to help plan fiduciaries assess the need and potential effectiveness of plan design changes for 401(k) plans, including automatic enrollment and reenrollment strategies. The panel will discuss the analytics considered by Hanesbrands prior to its recent participant reenrollment and introduction of white label funds under its 401(k) plan as a case study.

Conference attendees can join the speakers for this discussion on Monday, October 24 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern in Room W307CD at the Orange County Convention Center, located at 9400 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819. More information is available here.

For the first time, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing private employers on behalf of employees alleging sexual orientation discrimination. On March 1, 2016, the EEOC issued a press release announcing it has filed its first two sexual orientation lawsuits alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

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