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Easing the Burden: New PBGC Rule Simplifies Multiemployer Plan Withdrawal Liability Calculations

New guidance streamlines the methods for calculating withdrawal liability for multiemployer union pension plans that have adopted benefit reductions, benefit suspensions, surcharges or contribution increases—a common occurrence with underfunded multiemployer pension plans.

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Establishing a CPOD Model: 5 Initial Steps for Employers

A “closed point of dispensing” (CPOD) is emerging as a valuable model for employers working to make vaccines more broadly available as the United States moves toward mass vaccination efforts. Establishing a CPOD requires a deliberate strategy but can be done efficiently and proactively by taking a few initial steps.

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DOL Issues Clarification for ERISA-Governed Group Health Plans

Two days before the one-year anniversary of the official start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued a last-minute notice clarifying its prior guidance that relaxed the deadlines for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act-governed group health and welfare plans (ERISA) related to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and various special enrollment and claims procedures.

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Health Plan Sponsor Assessed Attorneys’ Fees for Pursuing Meritless ERISA Claims against Plan Administrators

The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld an award of attorneys’ fees payable by a health plan sponsor to the plan administrators that the plan sponsor had sued. The plan sponsor aggressively pursued meritless Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) claims.

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Making Sure It Hurts: 2021 Increased Penalties for ERISA Violations

The Department of Labor (DOL) made inflation adjustments to a wide range of penalties for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations by employee benefit plans and plan sponsors. The new penalty amounts that apply in 2021 are included herein.

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Full Disclosure Required: Lifetime Income Estimates on Defined Contribution Plan Benefit Statements

The Department of Labor provided interim guidance on the new required annual lifetime income disclosures to participants in defined contribution plans, including plans covered under section 401(k) or 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code, profit-sharing plans and employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). The Lifetime Income Disclosure Rule is currently scheduled to go into effect on September 18, 2021. Given this timeframe, sponsors of defined contribution plans should start planning for these new disclosure requirements now.

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EEOC Proposes New Rules on Wellness Programs

On January 7, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued proposed guidance regarding employer-sponsored wellness programs and the level of incentives employers may offer employees who participate in these programs in the form of two proposed rules. On January 20, 2021, the Biden administration ordered agencies to immediately withdraw most unpublished rules, including the EEOC proposed rules. Agencies may not issue any new regulations until they can be reviewed and approved by agency or department heads appointed or designated by President Biden.

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Consolidated Appropriations Act: Health and Welfare Benefits Provisions

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (the Act) was signed into law by the president on December 27, 2020, and includes significant health and welfare benefits provisions that affect group health plans and health insurance issuers. The Act is the most comprehensive single piece of legislation to impact group health plans since the Affordable Care Act.

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Final Rule for Selecting Retirement Plan Investments Leaves “ESG” Behind

In recent guidance, the Department of Labor clarified the retirement plan standards for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing without mentioning the term ESG. The new guidance provides that, when selecting and monitoring plan investments, an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciary must never sacrifice investment returns, take on additional investment risk or pay higher fees to promote non-pecuniary benefits or goals.

Teal Trujillo, an incoming associate in our Chicago office, also contributed to this On the Subject.

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DOL Creates Path for 401(k) Plans to Offer Private Equity Investment Options

In June, the US Department of Labor issued an information letter indicating that it will allow defined contribution retirement plans (such as 401(k) plans) to indirectly invest in private equity funds. While information letters are not binding, this new guidance creates a significant opportunity for plan sponsors to consider investment options that include private equity funds. However, it will be important for both plan sponsors and funds to carefully evaluate potential investments for compliance with fiduciary requirements.

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