Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

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

Photo of Roberta Chevlowe

Roberta Chevlowe

Roberta K. Chevlowe provides advice to employers and boards of trustees of multiemployer benefit plans on a broad range of issues relating to their retirement, health and other employee benefit plans. With nearly three decades of experience practicing in this area, Roberta employs a practical, business minded approach to helping her clients comply with the various requirements imposed by ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, COBRA, the Affordable Care Act and other federal and state laws affecting employee benefit programs. Roberta’s practice also includes advising clients in connection with benefit claim appeals, lawsuits and government audits; drafting plan documents, policies and employee communications materials; and negotiating with plan service providers.

Roberta is best known for her work in the area of COBRA compliance and for advising employers in connection with the benefits they provide to employees’ domestic partners and same-sex spouses. She is a co-author of The COBRA Handbook and lectures and publishes articles on a variety of employee benefits topics. In addition, Ms. Chevlowe is a member of Proskauer’s Health Care Reform Task Force, and she led the Firm’s Domestic Partner Benefits Task Force.

Subscribe to all posts by Roberta Chevlowe

DOL Releases COBRA Premium Subsidy Model Notices – With a Few Surprises

Immediate Action Required As discussed in our prior posts, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARP”) requires that plan administrators distribute new COBRA notices advising individuals of their possible rights to a COBRA premium subsidy.  Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor released new COBRA premium subsidy model notices and FAQs explaining how that is … Continue Reading

Some Family Members May Not Be Eligible for the ARPA COBRA Premium Subsidy

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”) includes a 100% COBRA premium subsidy for “assistance eligible individuals,” for periods of coverage occurring between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021, as described in earlier blog posts.  An “assistance eligible individual” is any COBRA “qualified beneficiary” who loses group health coverage on account of a … Continue Reading

ARPA COBRA Subsidy – When is a Termination of Employment Involuntary?

As we previously explained in our prior blogs, both here and here, on the new COBRA subsidy rules, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”), includes a 100% COBRA premium subsidy for periods of coverage occurring between April 1 and September 30, 2021.  The subsidy is available to qualified beneficiaries who are eligible for … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Includes Six Months of Free COBRA Health Coverage

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”), which was just passed by Congress and will be sent to President Biden for signature, includes an opportunity for free COBRA coverage for a six-month period from April through September 2021 for employees (and their family members) who experience a loss of group health coverage due to … Continue Reading

For Whom the Statute Tolls

As discussed in an earlier blog post on the DOL/Treasury relief extending benefit plan deadlines due to the pandemic, plans have to disregard an “outbreak period” when determining deadlines for COBRA elections and premiums payments, special enrollment in health plans, and the filing of claims and appeals. The DOL/Treasury guidance defined the “outbreak period” as … Continue Reading

Additional Relief for FSA Benefits

As part of the COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress earlier this week, the federal government expands on earlier relief issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for health and dependent care flexible spending account benefits (FSAs). Under these temporary rules, plan sponsors may give their employees additional time to use their FSA account balances … Continue Reading

Is a Qualified Retirement Plan Required to Apply Windsor Retroactively?

Following the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in U.S. v. Windsor (in which the Court held that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) was unconstitutional), one of the questions facing sponsors of tax-qualified retirement plans was whether the plans were required to recognize same-sex spouses on a retroactive basis for purposes of … Continue Reading

IRS Notice 2015-86 — The Limited Effect of Obergefell

Last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2015-86, providing guidance on the application of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges to qualified retirement plans and health and welfare plans, including cafeteria plans.  Importantly, and as expected, the IRS comments in the Notice that it does not anticipate that Obergefell will … Continue Reading

IRS Issues Proposed Regulations to Accommodate Obergefell

On October 21, 2015, the IRS issued proposed regulations to clarify the treatment of same-sex spouses for federal tax purposes. By way of background, in 2013, the United States Supreme Court held in United States v. Windsor that the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as being between opposite-sex partners was unconstitutional.  … Continue Reading

The U.S. Supreme Court Finds a Constitutional Right to Same-Sex Marriage: Implications for Employee Benefit Plan Sponsors

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses require states to allow same-sex marriage and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.  The decision comes exactly two years to the day from the Court’s decision … Continue Reading

Changes to the IRS Determination Letter Program

The IRS has informally stated that it is intending to make some significant changes to the Determination Letter program, and is even considering eliminating the program for individually designed retirement plans (other than perhaps initial and final determination letters).  The agency apparently is looking to streamline its operations and focus its resources on other areas. … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Same-Sex Marriage Laws

It was announced today that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider two important questions relating to same-sex marriage–whether states are required to allow same-sex marriages within their jurisdictions, and whether states are required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.  The decisions are expected to be issued in June of this year.… Continue Reading

HIPAA Certificates Are No Longer Required As of January 1, 2015

Effective January 1, 2015, group health plans and insurers are no longer required to issue a certificate of creditable coverage (“HIPAA Certificate”) to individuals who lost group health plan coverage.  (See final regulations here). As a reminder, HIPAA Certificates were used by individuals to prove that they had continuous health coverage under a prior health … Continue Reading

More Post-Windsor Tax Guidance: IRS Issues Letter Outlining Steps for Individuals to Obtain Tax Refunds for Same-Sex Spousal Health Coverage

July 21, 2014 On June 27, 2014, the IRS published a letter outlining the steps taxpayers should take in order to obtain a refund for taxes paid on the value of employer-sponsored health coverage provided to an employee’s same-sex spouse.  The letter, originally dated February 24, 2014, is in response to an inquiry from Rep. … Continue Reading

DOL Proposes Change to FMLA Definition of Spouse to Accommodate Same-Sex Marriage

As was expected, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued a proposed regulation changing the definition of “spouse” for FMLA purposes in order to protect the FMLA rights of employees with same-sex spouses. The proposed regulation adopts a “place of celebration” rule, consistent with the current DOL interpretation in the context of other federal laws. … Continue Reading

Despite Windsor, Federal Court Rejects Challenge to a Self-Insured ERISA Health Plan’s Denial of Coverage for Same-Sex Spouses

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in US v. Windsor, the requirement that an ERISA health plan provide health coverage for same-sex spouses has often hinged on whether an employee benefit plan was insured or self-insured and, in the case of insured plans, the requirements of state insurance law. In states where same-sex marriage is … Continue Reading

New IRS Guidance Relating to Same-Sex Spouses and Qualified Retirement Plan Benefits

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (in U.S. v. Windsor) that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, the IRS announced that same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes and provided guidance relating to the impact of Windsor on certain types of employee benefits.  At the same … Continue Reading

More Post-Windsor Guidance from the IRS Relating to Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses: Cafeteria Plan Changes, Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor decision that repealed Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex spouses were not recognized as spouses for federal tax and benefits purposes.  In the immediate aftermath of Windsor, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17, which stated the IRS position that, for … Continue Reading

Federal District Court (In Its Capacity As An Employer) Must Reimburse Employee for the Cost of Health Benefits for her Same-Sex Domestic Partner

The Ninth Circuit Judicial Council, an administrative body that reviews decisions of the court’s chief judge, recently weighed in on an issue involving same-sex domestic partner health benefits in the post-Windsor world.  The decision is interesting insofar as it relies at least partially on the Windsor decision in awarding “spousal” benefits to an unmarried same-sex … Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Labor Announces a “Place of Celebration” Rule in Implementing the U.S. Supreme Court’s DOMA Decision With Regard to Employee Benefit Plans

A few weeks after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stated that it will apply a “place of celebration” rule in recognizing same-sex spouses for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code (including with respect to employee benefit plans), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced today that it too will interpret the term “spouse” as including … Continue Reading
LexBlog