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December 10, 2008

Final FMLA Regulations

Last month, the Department of Labor issued final regulations relating to the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Not only do these regulations clarify FMLA issues that have arisen since the law’s enactment in 1993, but they also address the two new forms of FMLA leave signed into law last January, specifically, relating to military families (see FMLA Brings Benefits to Military Families). These regulations become applicable January 16, 2009, and therefore, command immediate attention.

November 6, 2008

Agencies Finalize Rules on Maternity Hospital Length of Stay

The IRS, DOL and HHS have issued final rules relating to the federal Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act of 1996 (“Newborns’ Act”).  These rules are substantially the same as the interim regulations issued several years ago.  Nevertheless, it is a good time to review plans to ensure compliance. 

November 6, 2008

2009 Retirement Plan COLAS

Following are highlights of the 2009 cost-of-living adjustments issued by the IRS, applicable to defined benefit and defined contribution plans.

November 6, 2008

Qualifying Child Redefined… Again!

A few weeks ago, President Bush signed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (“Adoptions Act”, Pub. L. No. 110-351), which, among other things, amends the definition of qualifying child found in IRC Section 152(c) yet again.  This definition, along with the definition of qualifying relative (which remains unchanged), is important for determining who can receive tax-advantaged benefits, such as benefits from a:

November 6, 2008

Notice Reminders: Medicare Part D

  • Annual Medicare Part D Notices. The annual notices of creditable and noncreditable coverage to Medicare-eligibles must be provided no later than November 14, 2008.  Notices to be used on or after June 15, 2008, as well as Creditable Coverage Guidance, are all available on-line from the CMS website, or can be viewed from these links:
    • Model Individual Creditable Coverage Disclosure Notice (English or Spanish)
    • Model Individual Non-Creditable Coverage Disclosure Notice (English or Spanish)
    • Model Personalized Individual Disclosure Notice (English or Spanish)
  • Disclosure Notice to CMS.  An annual report,Creditable Coverage Disclosure Form, must also be submitted to CMS describing whether the prescription drug coverage is creditable or not creditable.  This filing must be accomplished electronically, and is due within 60 days of the commencement of the plan year.  For details about this notice, see CMS guidance and/or Form Instructions and Screen Shots.

 

November 6, 2008

2009 Cost of Living Adjustments Applicable to Various IRS Benefits, Social Security, and Medicare

In Revenue Procedure 2008-66, the IRS released several cost of living adjustments for various benefits.  Following are amounts applicable to tax years beginning in 2009.

November 6, 2008

San Francisco’s Health Care Ordinance Challenged Again

As a follow-up to last month’s Benefit Beat article, San Francisco’s Health Care Ordinance Stands, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel decision was not good enough for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA).  The GGRA has requested a rehearing of this matter before the whole (en banc) 9th Circuit Panel.  In the meantime, employers still have to grapple with satisfying San Francisco’s HCSO mandate.

October 12, 2008

ADA Amended

On September 25, 2008, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 into law. This law amends certain aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act enacted in 1990, which prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of disability. Specifically, the ADA Amendments Act, which becomes effective January 1, 2009, modifies the definition of “disability”, as well as broadens the classifications and categories of “major life activities” for purposes of determining the effects of a disability.

October 12, 2008

HEART Act FSA Cash-out Explained

In June, 2008, a law was passed (Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008, “Heroes Act” or “HEART Act”, Public Law 110-245; see the June 2008 edition of Benefit Beat), addressing several employment and benefit-related matters specifically applicable to employees called to active service. One of these provisions allow a distribution for non-medical reasons from a health flexible spending account (health FSA). The IRS has issued Notice 2008-82 flushing out this provision.

October 12, 2008

San Francisco’s Health Care Ordinance Stands

On September 30, 2008, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rendered its Opinion relating to ERISA preemption of the City of San Francisco’s Health Care Security Ordinance (Golden Gate Restaurant Assn. vs. City and County of San Francisco; Case No: 07-17370, 9/30/08). The 9th Circuit Court has upheld the Ordinance, which went into effect 1/9/08 for employers with 50+ employees; 4/1/08 for employers with 20+ employees.

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