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DOL Focuses on 401(k) Plan Fees

The Philadelphia office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has made "excessive" plan fees a priority for investigation. There is no bright line to define "execessive fees" but if an investigation determines that 401(k) plan participants are paying higher fees than would otherwise be expected, EBSA will want to find out who is responsible.   The investigation will try to answer questions like: aWhat do the disclosures look like? What do the fiduciaries look at?Is there something that justifies the high fees?Is it the fault of the disclosures? Is it the fault of the service provider? Is it the fault of the named fiduciary plan sponsor? The document requests associated with these investigations can be quite burdensome. Rosenthal Lurie has a sample request that consists of 23 different categories of documents.  Send us an email and we will forward a copy to you.

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DOL Issues a Model Notice for the Affordable Care Act

Many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) become effective in 2014.  Others are effective this year.  Beginning October 1, 2013, most employers must notify employees of the coverage options available through the Health Insurance Marketplace established by the ACA. Employers are free to create their own notices, but the US Department of Labor has issued a Model Notice that employers can use to fulfill their obligations under the ACA. You may have heard that employers with fewer than fifty employees are not required to offer insurance coverage to their employees and that they are exempt from any penalties.  While that is true, the Notice requirement is technically part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, so many more employers are affected.  Any employer with at least one employee engaged in “interstate commerce” or which has more than $500,000 in sales is covered by the FLSA, so the vast majority of employers will be required to provide the Notice to their employees. The Notice must include the following information: The existence of a new Marketplace as well as contact information and description of the services provided by a Marketplace.The availability of a “premium tax credit” if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace.The Notice must inform employee that if she purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace, the employee she may lose the employer contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer and that all or a portion of such contribution may be excludable...

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New Evidence of Link Between Head Trauma and Brain Disease: NFL Players Should Take Notice

An article published in the scientific journal Brain reported on a study of brain samples taken from 85 people who had documented instances of repeated mild brain injury, including 33 who had played in the NFL. Eighty percent of brains studied showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative and incurable disease. Symptoms of C.T.E. are classified as Stages I-IV, with each stage representing progressively worse symptoms, ranging from headaches and difficulty in concentrating to dementia. According to the study: Data on athletic exposure were available for 34 American football players; the stage of chronic traumatic encephalopathy correlated with increased duration of football play, survival after football and age at death. Notably, the study focused on mild, repeated brain injuries, suggesting that the cumulative effects can have significant long-term consequences: The current results establish that a distinctive pattern of neuropathological changes, previously reported primarily in boxers, can also be found in other athletes and military veterans and provide a clear impetus for future studies. . . .[T]his study clearly shows that for some athletes and war fighters, there may be severe and devastating long-term consequences of repetitive brain trauma that has traditionally been considered only mild. The NFL Disability Plan now has a provision providing benefits to eligible players who have a permanent, neuro-cognitive impairment but are not receiving “Line of Duty” or T&P disability benefits or Pension Benefits under the Retirement Plan. It remains to be seen how the Plan will handle these claims and how many players...

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