Plan Administrators

News & Analysis as of

Are Top Hat Plans Entitled to a Discretionary Standard of Review?

Many years ago the Supreme Court decided that qualified retirement plans that gave their fiduciaries discretion to determine plan benefits were entitled to have their decisions, reviewed by a court under a generous “abuse of...more

Supreme Court Acknowledges Fiduciaries Have Continuous Duty to Monitor Plan Investments, Remove Imprudent Investments

On May 18, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in the Tibble v. Edison Int’l, 575 U.S. ___ (2015) case, finding that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit erred in applying the six-year...more

Complacency is a Plan Provider Killer

Complacency can kill a retirement plan provider and their business. Complacency is a two fold, being complacent in the retirement plan industry and being complacent with your clients. Any business whether it’s retirement plan...more

Don’t “Dabble” in Employee Benefit Plan Auditing

For years, U.S. Department of Labor Chief Accountant Ian Dingwall has been advising employee benefit plan administrators to avoid using auditors who “dabble” in employee benefit plans. During this period, the DOL has...more

Second Circuit Revisits Remedies In Amara v. Cigna

The Second Circuit court of appeals held that a court can exercise its equitable powers to reform the terms of a cash balance retirement plan to provide greater benefits than stated in response to material misstatements made...more

Plan Administrator’s “Second Plan Interpretation” Violates Anti-Cutback Rule

The Third Circuit held that a plan administrator’s plan interpretation requiring an actuarial reduction of certain employees’ pension benefits conflicted with the plan’s terms. As such, its decision to reduce participants’...more

Federal District Court Dismisses Class Action Litigation Concerning 401(k) Provider’s Float Practices

In In re Fidelity ERISA Float Litigation, Case No. 13-10222 (D. Mass. Mar. 11, 2015), the district court rejected an ERISA challenge to a 401(k) plan service provider’s float practices. ...more

DOL Amends Timing Requirement for Participant-Directed Plan Disclosures

The final rule gives greater leeway for the distribution deadline of annual participant disclosures. In its 2010 participant disclosure rule for participant-directed individual account plans (Regulation 404a-5), the US...more

ERISA — 5 Quick Points: Blowing a Deadline for Decision is Not Necessarily Fatal to Abuse of Discretion Standard

You already know that ERISA regulations require the plan administrator to render a decision on an administrative appeal within 45 days....more

ERISA: 4th Circuit: When Is A Plan Administrator Obligated To Obtain Medical Records?

You already know that the primary responsibility for providing medical proof of disability undoubtedly rests with the claimant. But does the plan administrator sometimes have an obligation to obtain medical records and...more

Third Circuit Limits ERISA Fiduciary Liability

Former and current annuity holders sued John Hancock Life Insurance Company in New Jersey federal court several years ago, alleging that, as a service provider to their 401(k) plans, John Hancock was an ERISA fiduciary and...more

The ERISA Litigation Newsletter - December 2014

This month's newsletter focuses on how Plan Trustees can appropriately settle ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claims in order to achieve "complete peace." The article provides a check list and discusses strategies for handling...more

DOL 2014 Fall Regulatory Agenda

Introduction - The Department of Labor has released the 2014 Fall Regulatory Agenda. The updated agenda provides the anticipated publication dates for the next steps in the regulatory process for nearly a dozen ERISA...more

ERISA Fiduciaries Have a Duty to Inform

SUMMARY: In this case, the court found that the employer, serving as plan administrator of a group life insurance plan providing basic and supplemental coverage, may be liable for monetary damages for breach of its fiduciary...more

Federal District Court Dismisses “100% Equity Strategy” Claims on Statute of Limitations Grounds

A federal district court held that participants in a defined benefit plan had standing to challenge plan fiduciaries’ strategy of investing 100% of the plan’s assets in equities, but dismissed those claims based on ERISA’s...more

Procedural Errors Don’t Alter Standard of Review In ERISA Claim for Benefits

The Ninth Circuit recently held that where an ERISA plan provides the plan administrator discretionary authority to determine benefit claims, procedural violations that occur during the course of the administrative claims...more

IRS Guidance on Windsor Decision May Require End-of-Year Amendments for Qualified Retirement Plans

Earlier this year, the IRS published updated guidance on the application of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor to qualified retirement plans. In Windsor, the Court held that the Defense of Marriage Act’s...more

Tenth Circuit Finds Plan Administrator Has No Duty to Inquire into Authenticity of Participant’s Beneficiary Designation

Plaintiff Kristopher Towles, the son of a deceased participant of a life insurance plan, challenged the plan’s decision to pay the life insurance proceeds to the deceased’s husband, contending that the beneficiary form...more

The ERISA Litigation Newsletter - October 2014

Editor's Overview - The first article in this month's newsletter focuses on whether specific language in ERISA employer-provided disability insurance plans confer discretionary authority to plan administrators to...more

Read the 5500 before E-Filing It.

Now is the time that plan sponsors who are on extension to file their Form 5500 should be receiving them via email from their third party administrator (TPA). While plan sponsors just immediately file them to get it...more

ERISA: 2nd Circuit — Tough to Appeal District Court’s ERISA Remand Order

What happens when the district court orders a remand to the ERISA plan administrator? Can you appeal it? It depends on the circuit. FACTS: Mead sought ERISA-governed long term disability benefits, which were...more

Trustee Travel Expense Reimbursements

Taft-Hartley plan trustees must stay up to date on the most recent rules and regulations regarding plan administration. One of the best places to be educated on the legislative framework governing collectively bargained...more

Proactive Steps Retirement Plan Sponsors Should Take

Retirement plan sponsors have a lot of headaches and liability because of their role as plan fiduciaries. They can sit back and do nothing, thereby increasing their potential liability. They can also be proactive and take...more

Update: Alberta Pension Legislation Presents New Obligations and Opportunities

As discussed in our July 2014 Blakes Bulletin: Alberta’s New Pension Legislation to Take Effect September 1, 2014, the Alberta government has announced that the new Employment Pension Plans Act (New Act) and its associated...more

Accepting Rollover Contributions Now Easier - and Less Risky - For Retirement Plans

The administrative burden of determining the validity of rollover contributions to qualified retirement plans, and the associated risk of jeopardizing the plan’s tax-qualified status, traditionally has been a significant...more

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