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August 7, 2009

Red Flags Rules: Delayed in Part, Explained in Part

In 2007, Congress enacted the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA), a part of which is a component known as the Federal “Red Flags Rule”.  These Rules apply to financial institutions and creditors, and requires such entities to establish a written identity theft prevention program.  This law is intended to reduce identity theft, and the damage caused thereby, by having affected institutions keep a close eye on such matters.  The identity theft program is intended to detect the warning signs of identity theft, and thereby, to prevent or reduce identity theft. 

July 8, 2009

401(k) Safe Harbor Plans: Limited Relief

Generally, 401(k) safe harbor plans that include a nonelective contribution provision cannot reduce or suspend the nonelective contributions mid-plan year.  In May, 2009, the IRS issued proposed regulations to allow nonelective contributions to be reduced or suspended mid-year, if certain conditions are met.  These regulations are in response the economic times in which we find ourselves. 

July 8, 2009

ARRA’s COBRA Subsidy: Further Guidance

On June 3, 2009, the IRS issued additional Q&As relating to the COBRA subsidy.     Following are hi-lights of these Q&As:

July 8, 2009

Qualified Plan Compliance Tools Available

If an effort to assist qualified plan sponsors in their compliance efforts, the IRS’s Employee Plan Team Audit (EPTA) division has several new tools on its website:

June 8, 2009

Health Risk Assessments: Where Do They Stand?

One of the tools commonly used in a wellness program is a health risk assessment.  A health risk assessment can take many forms.  Generally, it involves the collection of personal medical information, which may include family medical history and genetic information.  The purpose of the information collection is generally to target medical conditions that an individual may have, or may be predisposed to have; the goal being, of course, to address the condition before it gets out of hand. 

June 8, 2009

Investment Advice Regulations Postponed…Yet Again!

A few months ago, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would delay the effective date of the final investment advice regulations to allow additional time for legal and policy review of the rules (seeBenefit Beat, April 2009).   Although the final regulations were to become effective on May 22, 2009, the DOL has further delayed the effective and applicability date of these regulations until November 18, 2009.

June 8, 2009

California’s Same-sex Marriage Ban Upheld

In May, 2008, a California Supreme Court decision sanctioned same-sex marriages.  The Court’s decision was subsequently challenged on the grounds that it conflicted with the California Constitution that only permits a marriage between one man and one woman. 

June 8, 2009

COBRA Subsidy Appeals Process Established

If an individual’s request to be treated as a COBRA-subsidy eligible individual is denied (see prior Benefit Beat articles:  COBRA Subsidy Guidance from the IRS and COBRA  Subsidy - Information Support), then he/she may request a review of the denial from the Department of Labor.  One can obtain information and apply for the review of the denial via the DOL’s website.  If the continuation coverage is provided through a federal, state or local government plan, or provided in accordance with a state’s mini-COBRA law, then the individual should direct their request for review of the denial to the Department of Health and Human Services.

June 8, 2009

Health Savings Accounts: 2010 Cost of Living Adjustments

In Rev Proc 2009-29, the IRS released 2010 cost of living adjustments for health savings accounts. Following are annual deductible amounts for a high deductible health plan (HDHP) used in conjunction with a health savings account (HSA), and limits for out-of pocket expenses and contributions for both 2009 and 2010.

May 7, 2009

Pandemic Flu Basics

The swine flu (H1N1) appears to have the potential to create a significant health issue.  As of 4/30/09, the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5.   

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