Allen Steinberg

Allen Steinberg : Perspectives

Employee benefit plans—especially retirement and health care—have become an increasingly important part of the employment relationship. For employers, these plans represent an important part of the total compensation package, a tool for retention and recruitment, and a growing financial and compliance burden. For employees, these plans represent a key part of their overall financial security and wellbeing, a financial burden, and a source of complexity and frustration. In effect, it’s complicated. Our firm is dedicated to helping employers manage these complexities and focus on the important things.

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08.05.2018 07.03 CDT

The latest court decision invalidating the DOL’s proposed rewrite of the fiduciary rules adds more uncertainty for plan fiduciaries. How do fiduciaries get past the “noise” of conflicting courts and regulators and go about the business of protect plan interests?

Nature Abhors a Vacuum – and So Should Fiduciaries

Nature Abhors a Vacuum – and So Should Fiduciaries

Conflicting court opinions, dueling regulators and uncertain direction from the executive branch are making it harder for plan fiduciaries to do their jobs.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision to invalidate the DOL’s new fiduciary rule is the latest in a string of confusing (and often conflicting) messages to plan fiduciaries. However, fiduciary duties under ERISA are grounded in some core principles that have not changed. The legal confusion surrounding certain fiduciary issues cannot obstruct fiduciaries’ execution of those duties.

19.03.2018 04.01 CDT

A new court decision could give the Administration an opportunity to completely withdraw the regulations expanding ERISA’s definition of fiduciary and limit the ability to expand the scope of ERISA’s fiduciary protections in the future.

Court of Appeals Strikes Down Fiduciary Rule

Court of Appeals Strikes Down Fiduciary Rule

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has issued an opinion striking down the DOL’s new fiduciary rule. The decision will add more (unwelcome) uncertainty.

On March 15 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck down the DOL’s new fiduciary rule. The decision, in very sweeping terms, concluded that the DOL did not have the regulatory authority to expand the previous definition of “fiduciary” contained in 1975 regulations. The breadth of the Court’s ruling, if upheld, makes it virtually impossible for the DOL to somehow modify the fiduciary proposal or to issue new fiduciary rules.

12.03.2018 05.31 CDT

The past year has seen a number of new state and local laws covering a range of benefits-related areas. However, this legislative and regulatory patchwork has a down side for employers, who may find it increasingly difficult to deal with complying with the requirements of multiple jurisdictions.

The New Federalism: Employee Benefits in the Laboratory

The New Federalism: Employee Benefits in the Laboratory

In the federal system, states can serve as “laboratories” for different policies. It appears that the benefits and HR community have become the guinea pigs of choice as the state “laboratories” have attempted to push back at the policies (or lack thereof) emanating from Washington, D.C.

The past few years has seen a number of new state and local laws covering a range of benefits-related areas. In part, this activity can be attributed to pushback at the policies (or lack thereof) emanating from Washington, D.C. And, we can anticipate an increase in such activity in the coming years. However, state and local activism can have some unintended (and undesirable) consequences.

07.02.2018 07.00 CST

A new chapter may be opening in the ongoing saga of litigation against plan fiduciaries. A new target in this sage - plan vendors’ use of participant confidential financial to facilitate the cross-sales of non-plan financial products.

Fiduciary Lawsuits: A New Chapter Opening?

Fiduciary Lawsuits: A New Chapter Opening?

Latest Complaint Against NYU Raises New Challenges

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the NYU retirement plans have filed an amended complaint. This new complaint challenges the use, by the plans’ recordkeeper, of participant confidential financial data and the recordkeeper’s cross-selling of non-plan financial products to plan participants.

30.01.2018 08.53 CST

Recently discovered computer bugs – Spectre and Meltdown – pose security threats to a large number of computers. As the result of employer responsibilities under HIPAA, employers should consider both their own systems and also the systems of health care vendors.

Spectre, Meltdown and HIPAA: An Unpleasant Trio

Spectre, Meltdown and HIPAA: An Unpleasant Trio

Both employers and James Bond must fight Spectre. Employers must also fight Meltdown – and fight these threats in a way that meets the requirements of HIPAA.

The tech world has been abuzz since the beginning of 2018 over two computer bugs – Spectre and Meltdown. These bugs pose a unique challenge – they occur as the result of the architecture of the computer’s central processing unit (CPU) and the development and implementation of patches will be more difficult than usual. These bugs also raise additional questions about employers’ responsibilities under HIPAA to “reasonably” protect health information.