Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

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

Paul M. Hamburger

Paul M. Hamburger

Partner

Paul Hamburger is co-chair of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group and head of the Washington, DC office. Paul is also a leader of the Practice Center’s health and welfare subgroup and a member of Proskauer’s Health Care Reform Task Force.

Paul provides technical knowledge and advice to employers on all aspects of their employee benefit programs, and advises employee benefit plan trustees and service providers on ERISA and employee benefit plan-related matters. He has extensive experience in negotiating service provider and outsourcing agreements. Paul frequently represents clients before government regulatory agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Paul focuses on all matters affecting employee benefit plans, including:

  • 401(k) plans, ESOPs, and defined benefit plans, including cash balance pension plans
  • Executive compensation plans and agreements
  • Welfare benefit plans, including cafeteria plan, COBRA, and health care reform (PPACA) issues

Recognized by a number of publications for his exceptional work, Paul is described by The Legal 500 United States as "one of the best in his field; he inspires a high level of confidence and is a pleasure to work with." Chambers USA notes that Paul’s clients refer to him as "a creative, business-oriented and brilliant lawyer who educates and enlightens."

As a noted thought leader in his field, Paul frequently speaks on employee benefit matters. In addition, he served for several years as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center teaching the LL.M. tax course on ERISA Health and Welfare Benefit Plans.

An author of numerous articles on employee benefits matters, Paul has produced a number of nationally-circulated loose leaf publications, published by Thompson Information Services: Mandated Health Benefits – The COBRA Guide, The Guide to Assigning & Loaning Benefit Plan Money, and The Pension Plan Fix-It Handbook. Most recently, he was the managing author of the 6th edition of The New Health Care Reform Law – What Employers Need to Know (A Q&A Guide), published by Thompson HR.

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Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #8 – Facing Litigation of Benefit Claims

Up to now, our blog series has focused on best practices for implementing a plan’s claims and appeals procedure.  We shift gears this week to see how following these best practices pays dividends if a participant’s (or beneficiary’s) claim is denied and the participant decides to pursue the claim for benefits in court (or, if … Continue Reading

Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #7 – Understanding Attorney-Client Privilege in the Benefits Claims Process

When a plan administrator is attending to a benefit claim and thinks it is time to call in an attorney, are those discussions privileged and protected from disclosure to claimants?  In this week’s blog, we take a look at some of those communications between attorneys and plan administrators and examine whether or not they are … Continue Reading

Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #6 – Distinguishing an Inquiry from a Claim

It’s Week #6, and we have turned the corner in our Top 10 Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims.  In case you missed any (or all) of the first five best practices, links to each of them appear below.  This week we discuss how to distinguish an inquiry from a claim for benefits. The claims … Continue Reading

Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #5 – Establishing (and Following) a Good Claims Process

This week we discuss the importance of establishing good claims procedures and the benefits of following those procedures. A plan’s claims procedures should be spelled out clearly in both the plan document and the summary plan description (where the two documents are not one in the same).  In addition to setting all of the applicable … Continue Reading

Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #4 – Know (and Understand) the Law: Full and Fair Review

This week in our blog series on best practices in administering benefit claims, we discuss the importance of knowing and, importantly, understanding the laws governing benefit claim administration. Section 503 of ERISA sets forth the general guidelines for a plan’s claims and appeal procedures.  It requires that a plan provide adequate written notice of the … Continue Reading

Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #3 – Dealing with Benefit Assignments

Our blog series on best practices in administering benefit claims has thus far stressed the importance of knowing and reading the plan document and summary plan description.  This week, we take a look at a plan term that has been the subject of frequent dispute in health and welfare benefits claim litigation—interpretation of plan provisions … Continue Reading

Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #2 – Know (and Read) Your SPD

Last week, we kicked off our blog series on the fundamentals of benefit claim administration with an explanation of how important it is to know and read your plan document.  The plan document is the legally binding contract that describes each participant’s rights and benefits under the plan. It also guides the legal obligations and … Continue Reading

Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #1 – Know (and Read) Your Plan Document

Our ERISA Practice Center blog posts often discuss many complex, and sometimes esoteric, substantive and procedural ERISA issues, as well as related agency guidance and case law.  In this new ten-part blog series, however, we take a step away from the complex and esoteric in order to review some of the fundamentals of benefit claim … Continue Reading

Final Hardship Distribution Regulations, Part Three: New Disaster Relief and Expanded Sources Available for Hardship Distributions

The IRS recently released final regulations making a number of changes to the rules applicable to hardship distributions from 401(k) and 403(b) plans.  Concluding our three-part series on the final regulations, this blog entry will focus on the following changes to the hardship distribution rules: (1) modifications to the list of safe harbor expenses that … Continue Reading

Final Hardship Distribution Regulations, Part Two: Implementation Considerations

As discussed in our prior blog entry, the IRS recently released final regulations making a number of significant changes to the rules applicable to hardship distributions from 401(k) and 403(b) plans.  As part of our continuing series on these final regulations, this blog entry will focus on two specific issues: (1) the elimination of the … Continue Reading

Final Hardship Distribution Regulations, Part One: Key Changes and Deadlines for Plan Sponsors

Last week, the Department of Treasury and the IRS issued final regulations regarding hardship distributions from 401(k) and 403(b) plans.  The final regulations respond to comments based on earlier proposed regulations and make a number of significant changes to the existing IRS rules that apply to hardship distributions. Given the detailed material in the regulatory … Continue Reading

A Good 403(b) or a Bad 403(b)? A Question IRS Auditors Look to Answer

In each case, the answer depends on whether the document and operation are in compliance with the many technical requirements for section 403(b) plans. IRS officials have recently indicated that the IRS expects to launch audit initiatives this summer targeting section 403(b) plan compliance, so now is a good time for employers with section 403(b) … Continue Reading

[Podcast]: Suspension of Benefits Issues

In this episode of the Proskauer Benefits Brief, partner Paul Hamburger, and associate Katrina McCann discuss the suspension of benefits rules, and the unique and interesting issues that arise when defined benefit plan participants work beyond their normal retirement age.  Plan sponsors and administrators should tune in, as these rules are quite complicated and are often misunderstood.  Listen to the … Continue Reading

[Podcast]: Attorney-Client Privilege in the Employee Benefit Plan Context

In this episode of the Proskauer Benefits Brief, Paul Hamburger, co-chair of Proskauer’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group, and associate Joe Clark discuss how the attorney-client privilege rules apply in an employee benefit plan context. The attorney-client privilege allows for the free flow of information between an attorney and a client in order to insure that the client … Continue Reading

[Podcast]: Proposed IRS Regulations Affecting 401(k) and 403(b) Plans

In this episode of the Proskauer Benefits Brief, Paul Hamburger co-chair of Proskauer’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group, and associate Steven Einhorn discuss the recently proposed IRS regulations addressing the hardship withdrawal rules affecting 401(k) and 403(b) plans. We will discuss challenging questions employers and administrators face as they work through the new requirements, which … Continue Reading

District Court Declares Entire Affordable Care Act Unconstitutional – What It Means for Employers and Plan Sponsors

In a surprising turn of events, on Friday, December 14th, a district court judge in the Northern District of Texas declared that the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) individual mandate is unconstitutional and that, a result, the entire ACA is invalid. Although the ACA remains in effect for the time being and an immediate appeal to … Continue Reading

Treasury and IRS Issue Eagerly-Awaited Guidance on Hardship Distributions – with a Few Surprises

Last Friday, the IRS issued eagerly-awaited proposed regulations regarding hardship distributions under section 401(k) and 403(b) plans (the “Proposed Regulations”). The Proposed Regulations primarily address hardship distribution issues raised by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the “Budget Act”). (For our earlier blog entry summarizing these issues, click here.) At the same time, the Proposed … Continue Reading

[Podcast]: QDROs in 10 Easy Steps

In this episode of the Proskauer Benefits Brief, Paul Hamburger, co-chair of Proskauer’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group, and partner Robert Projansky discuss ten basic steps for how to manage qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs). A QDRO is a judgment, decree or order for a retirement plan to pay child support, alimony or marital property rights to … Continue Reading

[Podcast]: Fixing Retirement Plan Overpayments

In this episode of the Proskauer Benefits Brief, Paul Hamburger, co-chair of Proskauer’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group, and associate Katrina McCann discuss how to fix retirement plan overpayments, based on (1) the type of plan (i.e., defined contribution or defined benefit plan), (2) whether the overpayment was with respect to a lump sum or ongoing payments, … Continue Reading

The Bipartisan Budget Act’s Impact on Retirement Plans

On Friday, February 9, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the “Budget Act”). The Budget Act contains a number of provisions that affect qualified retirement plans.  Plan sponsors should consider the impact of the Budget Act on their retirement programs. Hardship Withdrawals. The Budget Act relaxes the rules … Continue Reading

Protecting Your Qualified Retirement Plan Now that the IRS Determination Program is (Mostly) Closed

A lot has been written over the last few months about what to do now that the IRS has closed its determination letter program for ongoing individually designed tax-qualified retirement plans. Some see this as cause for celebration because we no longer have to go through the trouble of collecting documents, filling out forms, and … Continue Reading

Big Employer Win in Wellness Program Case EEOC v. Flambeau

For the past couple of years, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been challenging employer wellness programs for their alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The most recent EEOC challenge was in EEOC v. Flambeau, Inc., (No. 14-cv-638-bbc (December 31, 2015)).  In this case, the U.S. District Court for the … Continue Reading
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