Tag: qualified beneficiary

Verbal COBRA Notice Is Sufficient, Says Court in Ruling for Employer

In a decision that overlooked key COBRA guidance, a federal district court ruled that an employer/plan administrator fulfilled its notice obligation by verbally providing a notice of COBRA rights and accepting premium payments — which apparently the qualified beneficiary had to pay a few days after her employment termination. In dismissing a COBRA notice claim, […]

Plan Sponsors Must Require More from Managed Account Providers, GAO

More needs to be known about managed account services for retirement plan participants and the role employer plan sponsors play in offering them, according to a report released on July 29 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Because these services differ from investment options provided within 401(k) plans, yet can serve as a qualified default […]

Employer Faces More Fees as 11th Circuit Affirms $126K COBRA Penalty Award

A federal appeals court not only affirmed a ruling that an employer/plan administrator must pay more than $126,000 in penalties and legal costs for intentionally violating COBRA notice requirements, it also held that about $2,460 in expenses excluded from the legal award should be revisited by the lower court. The case is Evans v. Books-A-Million, […]

Employers in Tax-break Pilot May Offer myRA Accounts by Late 2014

Employers may not feel much of an administrative burden from the new “starter” retirement savings accounts announced Jan. 28 in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, but those opting to participate should be prepared for employees’ questions about the My Retirement Account or “myRA” program ahead of its launch late this year. While […]

Free Coverage for 11 Months Eliminates Need for COBRA Notice Penalties, Court Rules

Due to an administrative error, an employer clearly did not provide a qualified beneficiary with a COBRA election notice. However, the qualified beneficiary also benefited from that mistake by receiving 11 months of free health coverage. For that reason, a federal district court in Iowa rejected claims that the employer should be subject to COBRA […]

TPA Faces ERISA Benefits Denial Claim for Improperly Raising COBRA Premium

A third-party administrator that poorly communicated a COBRA premium rate increase ­— which in any case was likely prohibited under COBRA’s rules — is being sued for ERISA benefits denial and state-law promissory estoppel claims. The TPA instituted the premium change but did not provide clear written notice of it as required under plan terms. […]

Taking COBRA or Exchange Coverage: Impact on the Health Care Reform Subsidy

Earlier this month, health insurance exchanges (also known as marketplaces) under the Affordable Care Act were launched, giving consumers — including COBRA qualified beneficiaries — new coverage options. Because qualified beneficiaries may come to employers with questions about enrolling in COBRA versus exchange coverage, here are some key issues to keep in mind. The key […]

How Sponsors Can Change Retirement Plans in Wake of DOMA Decision

By Austen K. Townsend The Supreme Court’s decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor No. 12-307 (June 26, 2013) raises many issues for employers and other plan sponsors to consider about their qualified retirement plans. Section 3 of DOMA provided that the term “marriage” meant only a legal […]

Health Reform Action to Correct 30-hour week Unlikely Before 2015

Congressional aides from both chambers of Congress and both parties said they do not expect immediate action on changing health care reform’s 30-hour a week definition of a full-time workers, or on banning “skinny” health plans that do not cover major categories of health benefits. The staffers predicted that even if enrollment is lower than […]

Bad Press for Ending COBRA Due to 26 Cents Premium Shortfall Shows Need to Know the Rules

COBRA’s premium payment rules took center stage Aug. 12, when the “Bamboozled” column in the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that a qualified beneficiary with leukemia had his coverage terminated early because his premium payment was 26 cents short. The story had a happy ending, but employers and their service providers can avoid being the villains […]