Understanding Domestic Partner Health Benefits After Obergefell
(Posted on May 1, 2016 by )

Domestic partner benefitsDomestic partner health benefits initially became popular as a way of permitting employees in same-sex relationships to obtain health benefits for their partners, at a time when such couples could not marry. But what of domestic partner health benefits in the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), which established a nationwide right for same-sex couples to marry? This discussion covers three topics:

  • What are domestic partner health benefits?
  • Why would an employer consider providing domestic partner health benefits, even though same-sex couples can now marry?
  • What legal considerations apply in developing a domestic partner health benefits policy?

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Carol V. Calhoun Quoted in BNA Article, “IRS Rules Keep Status Quo for Many Governmental Plans”
(Posted on February 15, 2016 by )

Bloomberg BNAThe article, dealing with the proposed IRS regulations dealing with the definition of normal retirement age for governmental plans, is subscription only. However, in relevant part, it said:

The proposed rules generally were favorable, allowing plans to maintain the status quo in most cases, Carol V. Calhoun, president of the Bethesda, Md.-based Calhoun Law Group, told Bloomberg BNA on Feb. 4.

“They say a governmental plan does not have to define normal retirement age, that it will be at whatever point you can receive a normal retirement benefit under the plan that is not reduced actuarially,” Calhoun said. For instance, the rules said that if a governmental plan says that normal retirement age is 25 years of service, then that will be considered the normal retirement age, she said.

Qualified Government Plan

A qualified governmental plan is one that is established and maintained for its employees by the federal government, a state government or political subdivision thereof, or by any agency or instrumentality of the federal or state government. The proposed rules “basically took all of the normal retirement ages that any state-wide plan has and they said all of those were going to be acceptable,” Calhoun said.

More discussion of the proposed rules can be found at this link.

Proposed Regulations: Normal Retirement Age for Governmental Plans
(Posted on January 27, 2016 by )

irsOn January 27, 2016, the IRS issued proposed regulations governing the extent to which governmental pension plans must comply with the rules governing normal retirement ages. In general, the rules are a positive step from the perspective of governmental plan sponsors, but they contain a few potential pitfalls.

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Economically Targeted Investments: Department of Labor Guidance Leaves Many Questions Open
(Posted on December 7, 2015 by )

deptlaborOn October 22, 2015, the Department of Labor issued new guidance, Interpretive Bulletin 2015-01, relating to the fiduciary standards under ERISA in considering economically targeted investments (“ETIs”), or investments chosen to foster specific social goals, such as economic development and/or home ownership in a particular state or area. What does this guidance mean for fund fiduciaries?

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Domestic Partnership Converted Retroactively to Marriage After Death Provides Basis for Spousal Benefits
(Posted on November 6, 2015 by )

2016 IRS Benefits & Contributions Limits Announced
(Posted on October 30, 2015 by )

irsOn October 30, 2015, the IRS issued IRS Notice 2015-75, announcing the changes in pensions and benefits limits for 2016. Most limits were unchanged.

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Social Security Wage Base for 2016 Issued
(Posted on October 15, 2015 by )

2016 Supplement to the Governmental Plans Answer Book Published
(Posted on October 6, 2015 by )

The 2016 Supplement to the Third Edition of the Governmental Plans Answer Book has now been published. It reflects substantial new developments in the area over the past year.

New materials include the following:

  • IRS proposals to eliminate or substantially modify the determination letter process
  • Proposed Department of Labor regulations concerning the definition of a fiduciary and fee disclosure requirements for service providers
  • Notice 2015-07, discussing the extent to which a governmental plan can cover employees of charter schools
  • Rul. Rev. Rul. 2014–9, which provided guidance to plans concerning the circumstances under which they could accept rollovers
  • Recent developments concerning same-sex marriage, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance treating discrimination based on sexual orientation as sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Controversy regarding public plan divestment in fossil fuel stocks
  • Update on state funding issues
  • Recent court decision about whether a beneficiary designation must be in its maker’s handwriting.
  • Domestic relations court order that treats a person who never was the participant’s spouse and never was even a putative spouse as though the nonspouse is the participant’s nonchild dependent, even if the facts known to the court make clear that the ostensible dependent is no longer in the participant’s household
  • New discussion of use of domestic relations orders in child support cases
  • Major state legislative changes
  • Recent developments in case law affecting governmental plans

Read more.

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