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September 2013

From the editors of CCH's BENE and BAN products, here are hot topics from recent Employee Benefits Management Directions newsletters as well as recent explanatory updates in Employee Benefits Management. Also included are recent explanatory updates to the Benefits Answers Now product.

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Hot Topics in Employee Benefits Management:
Employers need to start communicating now about health exchanges, Benz Communications says, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 545, August 13, 2013 — Health care reform is law and the health insurance exchanges are coming. And along with the exchanges, an onslaught of advertising directed at consumers. “Communicating with employees about health care reform—and insurance exchanges in particular—is no longer an option for employers,” according to Jennifer Benz, founder and CEO of Benz Communications.

Camp questions readiness of IRS, HHS to implement ACA, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 545, August 13, 2013 — House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., on August 1 questioned the readiness of the IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) by the mandated October 1, 2013, deadline, citing numerous reports questioning the agencies’ ability to have the health care law’s provisions up and running on schedule.

Expert explains how SHOP exchanges will work, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 546, August 27, 2013 — Many small business owners are concerned about upcoming changes resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the resulting implications for their employees' health care coverage options. To explain what the changes are and how they will impact small business in the next few years, Wolters Kluwer interviewed Pat Haraden, Principal at Longfellow Benefits, Boston.

CCIIO issues 2013 county data for ACA notices for non-English speakers, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 546, August 27, 2013 — The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) has released an updated list of all counties in the United States that meet or exceed the 10-percent threshold of people who are literate only in the same non-English language.

What's New in Employee Benefits Management:
Preventive services — Final regulations, which contain an exemption for contraceptive coverage for religious employers, are discussed at ¶10,140.

ACA reporting requirements  — The IRS has provided transition relief for 2014 from: (1) the information reporting requirements applicable to insurers, self-insuring employers, and certain other providers of minimum essential coverage under Code Sec. 6055; (2) the information reporting requirements applicable to large employers under Code Sec. 6056; and (3) the employer shared responsibility provisions under Code Sec. 4980H. For more information, see ¶10,240.

Reimbursed expenses — The IRS has issued final regulations with respect to the exception to the deduction limitations on certain expenditures paid or incurred under a reimbursement or other expense allowance arrangement. The regulations are discussed at ¶152,137.

FMLA for same-sex spouses — The Department of Labor recently revised guidance on its website that clarifies that same-sex spouses may be eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for a seriously ill spouse or for activities related to a spouse’s military deployment. The discussion at ¶68,054 has been updated to reflect this development.

Denial of FMLA leave — An employer could legally terminate an employee for unexcused absences when the employee failed to follow the employer's call-in procedure for attendance, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in White v. Dana Light Axle Manufacturing, LLC. The case is discussed at ¶68,056.

SIFL rates — The Department of Transportation has released the applicable terminal charge and standard industry fare level (SIFL) mileage rates  for July 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013. For the rates, see ¶150,086.

What's New in Benefits Answers Now (BAN):
DOL allows 401(k) plans to re-set deadline for providing comparative chart of investment information. The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) 2013-02 announcing a temporary enforcement policy that will afford 401(k) plans a one-time option to re-set the time by which they must distribute to plan participants the comparative chart of investment information (i.e., fee and expense information) required for 2013 or 2014 under the participant level fee disclosure rules. The re-set is intended to enable plan administrators to align the furnishing of the comparative chart with the provision of other required disclosures to participants in a cost-effective manner. To find out more about FAB 2013-02, see ¶10,935.

HHS issues final rule on determination of individuals' eligibility for exemption from ACA's shared responsibility payment. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a final rule that determines eligibility for and granting certificates of exemption from the individual shared responsibility payment. The regulations are effective on August 26, 2013. See the discussion at ¶20,010 for more information about the individual shared responsibility payment.

Voluntary benefits help simplify employees’ lives. Workers juggling both career and family may feel like their “to do” list is out of control. Work that extra hour, hit the gym, pick up kids and see to dinner, chores and homework all before bedtime. In this whirl of activity, it’s no wonder that working Americans expect their employers to help them simplify their lives by offering voluntary benefits as part of an overall employee benefits program. According to a new survey from WellPoint, nine in 10 Americans believe companies that offer a full range of benefits help them simplify and secure their lives. More information about voluntary benefits can be found at ¶20,080 and ¶61,090.

Survey finds both genders saving more for retirement, but men are “paying more attention.” Results of a nationwide survey of American workers who are eligible to participate in an employer-sponsored defined contribution retirement plan, show both men and women cite "saving enough for retirement" as their greatest financial concern—but men are paying more attention and taking more positive action. They are also relying more on financial professionals. Find out more about the retirement readiness of both men and women at ¶10,035.

What's New in Spencer’s Benefits Reports:
Reporting and disclosure. The ACA subjects employers to a variety of reporting and disclosure requirements. This report details those reporting and disclosure requirements (Report 522.-1).

Shared responsibility payment. The ACA assesses payments on large employers with 50 or more employees. This requirement was originally scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2014, but it has been postponed until Jan. 1, 2015 (Report 550.-1).

DOMA ruling. In June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. This report discusses the court’s ruling and examines some of the employee benefits and tax issues that the rulings will affect (Report 327.4.-21).

HSA questions. This report provides answers to specific, real-world problems dealing with HSAs (Report 356.-65).

IRS Voluntary Correction Program. Plan sponsors can correct errors in their retirement plans by using the IRS’s Voluntary Correction Program (VCP). This report reviews tips from the IRS on common mistakes with VCP submissions (Report 179.-35).

New Pension/Benefits Titles Added:
401(k) Advisor (September 2013)
457 Answer Book (6th Edition)
Employee Benefit Plan Review (September 2013)
Employee Benefits in Mergers & Acquisitions (2013-2014 Edition)
Employer’s Guide to Health Care Reform (2014 Edition)
ERISA Law Answer Book (7th Edition, 2014 Cumulative Supplement)
Journal of Deferred Compensation (Fall 2013)
Journal of Pension Benefits (Autumn 2013)
Pension Benefits (September 2013)
Multistate Guide to Benefits Law (2014 Edition)