Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

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

Tag Archives: ERISA

SECURE Act: Considering Implications of Changes to Required Minimum Distribution Rules

As previewed in our prior blog post, the recently enacted SECURE Act includes many changes that affect employer-sponsored benefit plans and require the attention of plan administrators.  Among these changes, effective for distributions made after December 31, 2019 (for individuals who reach age 70½ after that date), is the delay of the “required beginning date” … Continue Reading

ERISA Preemption Makes A Return To The Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No. 18-540, a case that asks the Court to decide whether ERISA preempts an Arkansas state law that regulates rates at which pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) reimburse pharmacies. PBMs are entities that verify benefits and manage financial transactions among pharmacies, healthcare … Continue Reading

No Class Arbitration Available in PBM Case

The Eighth Circuit recently concluded that there was no contractual basis to conclude that a pharmacy benefit manager agreed to class arbitration with four pharmacies because the agreement did not use the word “class” or refer to class arbitration in any way.  The Court also rejected the pharmacies’ argument that there was “implicit authorization” for … Continue Reading

Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #10 – The Three C’s

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, all … Continue Reading

Best Practices in Administering Benefit Claims #9 – Managing Litigation

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 … Continue Reading

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

Arbitrator To Decide Whether ERISA Fiduciary Claims Should Be Arbitrated

A federal district court in Texas referred to arbitration a 401(k) plan participant’s ERISA breach of fiduciary duty action based on allegations that certain plan investment options charged excessive fees.  In a two-page order, the court instructed the arbitrator to determine whether the arbitrator or a court should determine whether the class action waiver provision … 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

Guide to DOL’s New “Notice and Access” Proposal for Electronic Delivery

On October 23, 2019, the Department of Labor published a new proposed regulation that paves the way for “notice and access” electronic delivery of certain disclosures for retirement plans.  The proposal is welcome news for plan sponsors and administrators who have been frustrated by the existing “opt-in” regime for electronic disclosure.  But the proposal is … 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

Ninth Circuit Enforces Hawaii Anti-Reimbursement Statutes Against Insured Plan

ERISA health care plans typically include reimbursement and subrogation clauses, which give plans a right to reimbursement of medical expenses paid on behalf of a beneficiary where the injury is caused by a third party.  While such provisions are common in ERISA health care plans, they sometimes conflict with state laws that prohibit plans and … Continue Reading

Digging into the New HRA Regulations, Part 2 – ERISA Implications

New regulations issued by the Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services have expanded the use of health reimbursement accounts (“HRAs”) by allowing reimbursements for individual market insurance premiums. As noted in the final regulations, Individual Coverage HRAs and Excepted Benefit HRAs are group health plans subject to ERISA. However, individual health insurance … Continue Reading

Foreign Nationals Don’t Have ERISA Claims

A federal district court in Pennsylvania held that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear a claim for disability benefits under an ERISA plan brought by foreign nationals working in the Republic of Kosovo.  The court explained that absent an “affirmative intention” of Congress that is “clearly expressed” to give a statute extraterritorial … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear IBM’s Challenge to Second Circuit Ruling in ERISA Stock-Drop Suit

In December 2018, we reported here that the Second Circuit became the first court at any level to allow an ERISA stock-drop claim to survive a motion to dismiss since the Supreme Court revamped the pleading standard for such claims several years ago.  The Second Circuit reinstated a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Resuscitates Claims Against University 403(b) Plan Fiduciaries

Over the past several years, the ERISA plaintiffs’ bar has targeted university-sponsored 403(b) plans, arguing that the plan fiduciaries breached their fiduciary duties and engaged in prohibited transactions in connection with offering certain investment options and the administrative fees associated with such plans. Among other things, they have argued that the plan fiduciaries offered too … Continue Reading

Plaintiffs Not Entitled to Jury Trial for ERISA Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims

Massachusetts Institute of Technology persuaded a federal district court to toss a jury demand in a case alleging that the MIT 401(k) plan fiduciaries breached their duties by charging unreasonable administrative and management fees, engaging in prohibited transactions and failing to monitor those to whom the fiduciaries delegated their responsibilities.  In so ruling, the court … Continue Reading

Categorical Conflict of Interest Does Not Alter Standard of Review of Benefit Denials

The Second Circuit held that plaintiffs’ allegations that the defendant suffered from a “categorical potential conflict of interest”—because it both funded the plan and was the claim’s decision-maker—did not affect the application of the arbitrary and capricious standard of review in the absence of a showing by the plaintiffs that the conflict actually affected the … Continue Reading
LexBlog