Steven D. Weinstein is a partner in the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group and co-head of the Strategic Corporate Planning Group. He has been practicing in the employee benefits field since 1984, representing clients sponsoring single employer and Taft-Hartley pension and welfare plans.
Steven advises clients in all aspects of pension plan tax qualification and plan administration, including drafting of plan documents and employee communications; providing advice relating to corporate acquisitions and mergers; and negotiating investment management agreements, trust agreements, recordkeeping and custodial contracts, and other plan-related contracts.
In the tax-qualified plan area, Steven assists clients concerning the rules relating to discrimination testing, participation, vesting, cash or deferred arrangements, plan limitations and plan distributions. He also counsels clients regarding voluntary correction programs offered by the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor.
In addition, he counsels a wide array of clients on issues relating to fiduciary responsibility in connection with the administration and operation of employee benefit programs, particularly with respect to advice relating to the investment of plan assets. The latter advice includes the rules governing investment diversification, determination of plan assets, foreign indicia of ownership, prohibited transactions, and exclusive benefit and prudence. He also advises employers in connection with the implementation of all phases of reduction-in-force programs, including the drafting of severance plans and related documents, as well as employee communications required to effect these programs.
Steven has wide-ranging experience with health and welfare plans, particularly regarding the new rules issued under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a member of Proskauer’s interdisciplinary Health Care Reform Task Force, he assists clients and other Firm lawyers in preparing for the numerous changes resulting from ACA.
His experience is extensive in advising Fortune 500 companies with respect to the structure of their benefit plans and how such plans may be affected by corporate transactions. He also regularly counsels plan fiduciary committees as to best procedural practices to reduce potential exposure to fiduciary breach claims. His clients are most frequently in the manufacturing, financial services and entertainment sectors.
Steven has significant experience in assisting clients with the implementation and ongoing operation of non-qualified retirement plans and other types of executive compensation, including issues relating to ERISA coverage, and Section 409A and Section 457A compliance. He also advises clients in connection with executive employment agreements and change-in-control or severance arrangements.
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On July 27, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued notice of a proposed amendment (the “Proposed Amendment”) to Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption 84-14 (which is commonly referred to as the “QPAM Exemption”) that would (as described in more detail below) significantly amend certain of the exemption’s conditions, including: increasing the equity/net worth … Continue Reading
The IRS recently updated its “Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System” (EPCRS). By way of background, EPCRS is a correction program administered by the IRS for plan sponsors to correct certain retirement plan errors. EPCRS is comprised of three different components: the Self-Correction Program, the Voluntary Correction Program, and the Audit Closing Agreement Program. The updated … Continue Reading
Formally wading into the cybersecurity discussion for the first time, on April 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) posted on its website a suite of new guidance, including Tips for Hiring a Service Provider with Strong Cybersecurity Practices, Cybersecurity Program Best Practices, and Online Security Tips for Participants and Beneficiaries. By way of … Continue Reading
On November 3, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor of Labor (the “DOL”) issued an opinion letter (the “2020 Letter”) to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (“SIFMA”) stating that it would not view a conviction under foreign law as a disqualifying event under Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption 84-14 (the … Continue Reading
On October 30, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued a final rule on factors for selecting plan investments, which restricts “do-good” or “ESG” investing. In response to public comments, the final rule rolls back some of the restrictions and burdens from its proposed rule issued in June (summarized here), but it reaffirms … Continue Reading
On September 4, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a proposed rule (the “Proposed Rule”) that would confirm its position that ERISA’s fiduciary duties of prudence and loyalty apply to an ERISA plan fiduciary’s exercise of shareholder rights, including proxy voting, proxy voting policies and guidelines, and the selection and monitoring of proxy advisory … Continue Reading
On June 29, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) issued Notice 2020-52 that provides temporarily relief to plan sponsors that amend their safe harbor Section 401(k) or 401(m) plans (“Safe Harbor Plans”) mid-year to reduce or suspend employer safe harbor matching or nonelective contributions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To qualify for the relief, … Continue Reading
On June 23, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued a proposed rule (which was published in the Federal Register on June 30, 2020) that would amend its “investment duties” regulation set forth at 29 C.F.R. § 2550.404a-1. The DOL states that the proposed rule is intended to “eliminate confusion” and limit when and … Continue Reading
On May 21, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) finalized its proposed regulation expanding electronic delivery for retirement plan disclosures. On balance, the final regulation is generally consistent with the proposed regulation, although there are a number of key differences, including the addition of a new “direct email” delivery option not included in … Continue Reading
The SECURE Act, included as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, was signed into law on December 20, 2019. This post highlights changes that are exclusive to 401(k) plans. For a chronological guide to key retirement plan issues raised by the new law, please click here. Increase to Maximum Default Deferral Rate for … Continue Reading
The SECURE Act, included as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, was signed into law on December 20, 2019. This new law contains many significant changes that may impact employer-sponsored benefit plans. Given the scope of the law and the number of changes, we will release a series of blog posts exploring the … Continue Reading
Section 403(b) plans must be maintained pursuant to a written plan document that meets detailed requirements set forth in IRS regulations. If a plan contains a defect as to form (e.g., a provision does not comply with the regulations or a required provision is missing), the plan can be at risk for losing its qualification … Continue Reading
As discussed here, the IRS’s initial interpretation of a new excise tax under Section 4960 of the Internal Revenue Code could catch for-profit employers who set up foundations, trusts, PACs, and other tax-exempt entities off guard. The tax is 21% of certain compensation paid to the top five highest paid employees of the tax-exempt entity. … Continue Reading
In Notice 2008-59, the IRS provided certain limited exceptions to its previously stated general position that employers may not recoup any portion of the employer’s contribution to an HSA. Specifically, Notice 2008-59 provided that an employer may recover amounts that it contributes to an HSA account if: (i) the employee for whom the contribution was … Continue Reading
On June 22, 2017, the Senate released its much anticipated health care reform legislation – the Better Care Reconciliation Act (“BCRA”) (linked to amended version released June 26, 2017). In many respects the BCRA is similar to the House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act (which was described in our March 9, 2017 and May … Continue Reading
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
Over the past five years or so, Republican Congressmen have repeatedly taken steps to repeal President Obama’s landmark legislative effort – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”). However, those efforts either failed to advance in Congress or were vetoed by President Obama. Tuesday’s Presidential and Congressional election, in which Donald Trump was … Continue Reading
On January 29, 2016, the IRS issued Notice 2016-16 that provides guidance on mid-year changes to a safe harbor plan under sections 401(k) and 401(m) of the Internal Revenue Code. The guidance provides that a mid-year change either to a safe harbor plan or to a plan’s safe harbor notice does not violate the safe … Continue Reading
On January 2, 2013, President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (“ATRA”) into law. ATRA, adopted as an alternative to stepping over the “fiscal cliff,” preserves most of the Bush-era tax cuts and reinstates several other lapsed tax provisions. Several provisions of ATRA are of particular interest to employers, employees, and employee benefit … Continue Reading