Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

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Justin Alex

Partner

Justin S. Alex is a partner and a member of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group.

Justin advises private and public companies on all aspects of their employee benefits and executive compensation arrangements and plans, including the treatment of such arrangements and plans in corporate financings and transactions.

In addition to Justin's general benefits and compensation practice, he spends a significant portion of his time advising employers and financial sponsors with respect to underfunded single-employer and multiemployer pension plans. As part of this practice, Justin often works hand-in-hand with Proskauer's labor and restructuring lawyers to find innovative and practical methods for clients to manage pension liabilities.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Justin was a lawyer in the Office of Chief Counsel at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), where he gained significant experience with pension termination and underfunding issues. He also represented the PBGC in corporate bankruptcies and federal court litigation.

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IRS Announces 2023 Increases to Qualified Retirement Plan Limits

On October 21st, the IRS released a number of additional inflation adjustments for 2023, including to certain limits for qualified retirement plans.  Perhaps most notably, the annual limit for pre-tax and Roth contributions by employees to 401(k) plans has jumped from $20,500 to $22,500, and the annual limit for “catch-up” contributions to such plans by … Continue Reading

IRS Announces 2023 Increases to Health FSA and Transportation Fringe Benefit Limits

On October 18th, the IRS announced a slew of inflation adjustments for 2023, including to the annual contribution and carryover limits for healthcare flexible spending accounts and the monthly limit for qualified transportation fringe benefits.  The IRS did not increase the annual contribution limit for dependent care flexible spending accounts because that limit is not … Continue Reading

“Clawback Comeback”: DOJ’s New Focus on Clawbacks to Prevent Corporate Crime

In September 2022, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco delivered remarks unveiling the Department of Justice’s revised corporate crime guidance to “prioritize and prosecute corporate crime.” She reiterated that the number one priority for the DOJ is “individual accountability.” To that end, Monaco emphasized that the DOJ will “reward” companies that claw back compensation from executives … Continue Reading

42 Years in the Making: PBGC Proposes Regulation on Interest Rate for Withdrawal Liability Calculations

A hotly debated (and litigated) issue for multiemployer pension plans in recent years has been the appropriate interest rate to determine a multiemployer pension plan’s liabilities when calculating the plan’s underfunding for withdrawal liability purposes.  The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “PBGC”) is now poised to end the debate.  The PBGC proposes to allow multiemployer … Continue Reading

Clarification on Extension of Amendment Deadlines for CARES Act Provisions

On September 26, 2022, the IRS released IRS Notice 2022-45, which corrected a potential oversight in IRS Notice 2022-33, discussed in detail here.  Notice 2022-33 had extended the deadline to adopt certain retirement and savings plan amendments required by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (“SECURE Act”) and the Coronavirus … Continue Reading

PBGC Issues Final Rule on Special Financial Assistance Program for Troubled Multiemployer Pension Plans

On July 8, 2022, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) published its much anticipated final rule on the special financial assistance (“SFA”) available to certain troubled multiemployer plans under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”). As we previously described in our client alert, ARPA provided for cash payments from the PBGC to eligible … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Agrees with Third Circuit that “Highest Contribution Rate” for Withdrawal Liability Payment Calculations Excludes PPA Surcharges

On January 31, 2022, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s finding that surcharges imposed by the Pension Protection Act (“PPA”) are excluded from the determination of an employer’s “highest contribution rate” for withdrawal liability payment calculations. While the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (“MPRA”) explicitly excluded surcharges that accrued after 2014 from such calculations, this … Continue Reading

[Podcast]: Special Financial Assistance for Multiemployer Pension Plans (Part 3)

This episode is the final installment of our three-part series on a new special financial assistance program created by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for troubled multiemployer plans and the interim guidance issued by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation regarding the program. Be sure to listen as Rob Projansky and Justin Alex cover the special rules … Continue Reading

[Podcast]: Special Financial Assistance for Multi-employer Pension Plans (Part 2)

This episode of The Proskauer Benefits Brief is the second of our three-part series analyzing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) guidance on the new special financial assistance program for troubled multiemployer pension plans that was created by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  Tune in as Rob Projansky and Justin Alex dig into more details on the guidance … Continue Reading

[Podcast]: Special Financial Assistance for Multiemployer Pension Plans (Part 1)

This episode of The Proskauer Benefits Brief is the first of our three-part series analyzing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) guidance on the new special financial assistance program for troubled multiemployer pension plans that was created by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  In this initial episode, partner Rob Projansky and senior counsel Justin Alex cover the … Continue Reading

PBGC Releases Guidance on New Special Financial Assistance Program for Troubled Multiemployer Plans

As a follow up to our previous alert on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, we have summarized the key aspects of the recently released PBGC and IRS guidance on the new Special Financial Assistance Program for troubled multiemployer pension plans in our latest client alert, which can be found here.… Continue Reading

COVID-19 Stimulus Bill to Include Significant Pension Reforms and Expand Scope of 162(m) Compensation Deduction Limit

Today, the House of Representatives passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “ARPA”). The ARPA has already been approved by the Senate and is expected to be quickly signed into law by President Biden. We recently published a client alert addressing Title IX, Subtitle H of the new legislation, which includes … Continue Reading

PBGC Issues Final Rule with Simplified Methods for Withdrawal Liability Calculations

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) issued a final rule on January 7, 2021 that impacts the calculation of withdrawal liability by multiemployer pension plans in endangered or critical status. The final rule applies to withdrawals from multiemployer plans that occur in plan years beginning on or after February 8, 2021. The final rule contains … Continue Reading

PBGC Provides Temporary Flexibility for Variable-Rate Premium Calculations

In late September, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “PBGC”) published Press Release 20-04 and issued Technical Update 20-2 providing flexibility in the calculation of variable-rate premiums for plan sponsors who take advantage of extended pension contribution deadlines for 2020—even in certain circumstances where the plan sponsor has already completed its PBGC premium filing. The … Continue Reading

PBGC Announces COVID-19 Extensions for Premium Payments and Other Filing Deadlines

On April 10, 2020, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “PBGC”) announced that deadlines for upcoming premium payments and certain other required filings due from April 1, 2020 through July 14, 2020 will be extended to July 15, 2020 as further described below. The PBGC’s announcement came a day after the Internal Revenue Service (the … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Prohibits Retroactive Changes to Withdrawal Liability Interest Rate Assumptions

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a withdrawal liability decision of which both multiemployer pension plans and their contributing employers should be aware.  Specifically, in National Retirement Fund v. Metz Culinary Management, Inc., No. 17-1211, 2020 WL 20524 (Jan. 2, 2020), the Second Circuit held that the interest rate used to calculate an … Continue Reading

PBGC Adopts AAA’s Amended Withdrawal Liability Arbitration Rules

Beginning January 1, 2020, the American Arbitration Association (AAA) will: (i) reduce filing fees charged to parties initiating arbitrations of withdrawal liability disputes; (ii) change how costs of arbitrations are allocated among the parties to the disputes; and (iii) amend the process for resolving arbitrator selection disputes. The new filing fees are modest in comparison … Continue Reading

Sun Capital Update: First Circuit Reverses District Court’s “Partnership-in-Fact” Holding and Finds Private Equity Funds Not Part of Controlled Group and Not Liable for Portfolio Company’s Pension Liabilities

Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that two co-investing Sun Capital private equity funds (the Sun Funds)[1] had not created an implied “partnership-in-fact” for purposes of determining whether the Sun Funds were under “common control” with their portfolio company, Scott Brass, Inc. (SBI) – resulting in a ruling that … Continue Reading

Let’s Talk – PBGC Pilot Mediation Project is Now Permanent

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “PBGC”) launched a Pilot Mediation Project in October 2017 to provide plan sponsors an opportunity to negotiate resolutions in Early Warning Program cases and in termination liability cases (see our prior post). Following its trial run, the PBGC announced last month that it would make the Mediation Program permanent, … Continue Reading

Tax Reform Contemplates Changes to Employee Benefits

The House Committee on Ways and Means publicly released a working draft of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for the first time on Thursday. In the weeks leading up to the release of the draft, speculation has swirled as to whether it would eliminate or otherwise limit the ability to make pre-tax employee deferrals … Continue Reading

New PBGC-Plan Sponsor Pilot Mediation Project for Early Warning Program and Termination Liability Cases

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “PBGC”) launched a new Pilot Mediation Project to facilitate negotiations with (i) plan sponsors involved in corporate transactions under the purview of the PBGC’s Early Warning Program and (ii) the former plan sponsors of terminated pension plans that are subject to termination liability for the plans’ unfunded benefit liabilities.… Continue Reading

Senator Warren Leads Coalition to Expand Scope of Limitations on Executive Compensation Tax Deductions

As we have previously reported (see here and here), bills to expand the scope of Section 162(m) and/or to narrow or eliminate the exceptions under Section 162(m) have been proposed in recent years, but have not become law. Recently, a new coalition named “Take On Wall Street” that is comprised of lawmakers (including Senator Elizabeth … Continue Reading

Sun Capital Court Finds Co-Investing Funds Part of Controlled Group and Liable for Portfolio Company’s Pension Liabilities

As we previously reported, in Sun Capital, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held in 2013 that a private investment fund, pursuant to the so-called “investment plus” test first articulated by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the PBGC), was engaged in a “trade or business” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act … Continue Reading

Trade Act Reinstates Expired Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC)

As of December 22, 2015, IRS Notice 2016-02 supersedes certain information in this blog entry. On July 6, 2015, President Obama signed the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015.  Among other things, the Trade Act retroactively reinstated the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), which had previously expired on January 1, 2014, and extended its availability … Continue Reading
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