A recent Sixth Circuit decision emphasizes the importance of maintaining correct benefit plan delegations to avoid tussles over the correct standard of review for benefit claims.  In this case, the Sixth Circuit concluded that no deference was owed to a claim decision made by a company’s benefits department because the plan document neither named the benefits department as the entity with discretionary authority to decide claims nor permitted the benefits committee to delegate its discretionary authority to the benefits department.  The case is Laake v. Benefits Committee, Western & Southern Financial Group Co. Flexible Benefits Plan et al., 68 F.4th 984 (6th Cir. 2023).

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.

The problem of “missing” participants and beneficiaries (individuals for whom the plan administrator does not have adequate contact information) is an ongoing issue for retirement plan administrators.  It is also an area to which the DOL has dedicated significant attention in recent years, particularly in its enforcement actions, which has been a challenge for administrators.

We conclude our blog series on best practices in administering benefit claims with the three C’s:  be clear, be consistent, and communicate.  The key to effective benefit claim administration ultimately boils down to drafting and maintaining clear plan documents, implementing and enforcing plan terms consistently, and communicating clearly with plan participants and beneficiaries.

First,

As we shifted focus last week from a plan’s administrative claims procedures to defending against a claim for benefits in court, we explained how a well-documented administrative record can enhance the chances of getting a case dismissed at the outset without the need for protracted litigation.  This week, we offer three opportunities to further manage

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

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

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

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

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