American Bar Association
Employee Benefit Plans and Other Compensation Arrangements Group

Employee Benefit Plans and Other Compensation Arrangements Group

Who We Are

Employee benefits and compensation are critical components of the economic wealth, well-being and welfare of employees and their families. Concurrently, compensation and benefit matters also play a vital role in the ability of businesses to recruit, retain and motivate employees, to structure and execute real estate and other common business transactions and create legal risks for businesses and others involved in employee benefit plan sponsorship and administration. This group focuses on all aspects of employee benefit plans and other compensation arrangements, including issues relating to qualified plans, medical and other welfare plans and nonqualified deferred compensation plans, the fiduciary responsibilities of plan trustees, plan administrators and other plan fiduciaries, plan administration, plan transactions, plan terminations, and litigation involving this area of practice. The Group is a past Diversity Award Recipient from RPTE and has a strong committment to diversity.

The Committees in this Group are as follows:

Subcommittees  (click [+] for listing)

 Sub Committees

Programs, Meetings and Events

Committee Events

Group Conference Calls

July 1, 2014 - August 31, 2015
Our group holds bi-monthly conference calls open to all interested members of the RPTE section, as well as special "Study Group" calls to discuss current/breaking issues of interest. The calls generally are held at 1:00 pm ET on the first Friday of every other odd month. The schedule for 2014-2015 is below. Please join us!


Please join the RPTE Employee Benefit Plans and Other Compensation Arrangements Group for a conference call led by the Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Committee on Friday May 8 at 1 PM (Eastern), Noon (Central), 11 AM (Mountain), and 10 AM (Pacific) for a discussion of Section 409A defects and possible corrections.

The final regulations under Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code (“Section 409A”) were effective January 1, 2009. More than five years later, practitioners continue to struggle with differing interpretations of the regulations, finding Section 409A violations in many different places, and determining the most appropriate method to correct these violations. This teleconference is designed to be a group discussion of common and notable Section 409A violations that practitioners encounter. We will request opinions from the group on best practices to correct Section 409A violations. This teleconference may include a discussion of the following issues.

●          Common Section 409A pitfalls based on our collective experiences in the trenches
●          How Section 409A errors come to light, including self-reporting obligations
●             Addressing Section 409A errors in corporate transactions
●          Advantages and disadvantages of possible strategies for responding to common Section 409A errors, including:
            ○          The Internal Revenue Service Section 409A correction program
                ○             The proposed Section 409A income inclusion regulations for amounts that are subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture
            ○          Taking the position that Section 409A does not apply because there is no “legally binding right” or the “short term deferral exemption” applies or prior to the occurrence of a “substantial risk of forfeiture”
            ○          Use of common law theories, including the rescission doctrine or the “Couch-Russel” doctrine
●          Experiences with Internal Revenue Service audits

Our call will be led by Stephanie Schroepfer, Doreen Lilienfield and Courtney M. Vomund; Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Committee Chair and Co-Vice Chairs.

The bulk of this call will be “open mike” so please come prepared to share your views, experiences and questions.   If you plan to attend, we’d appreciate receiving an RSVP, but that is not required.

The RPTE Employee Benefit Plans and Other Compensation Arrangements Group held a conference call led by Fiduciary Responsibility, Administration and Litigation Committee on Wednesday, April 29, for a discussion of the recently released DOL’s proposed conflict-of-interest regulations, including the expanded definition of “investment advice,” the prohibited transaction exemption for “best interest contracts.”

The proposed rule expands the areas of advice that are rendered by ERISA fiduciaries and covers most significantly investment recommendations, investment management recommendations and recommendations of parties who provide advice for a fee or manage plan assets.

There are a number of specific and important carve-outs to the new rule generally intended to address the concerns expressed by the business and financial communities as well as those expressed by a number of members of Congress. The call was led by Chuck Thulin, Lisa Van Fleet & Lori Oliphant of that committee.

A short bullet-point topics paper will be circulated shortly before the call, and posted to the Committee’s website.

The RPTE Employee Benefit Plans and Other Compensation Arrangements Group held a conference call led by Fiduciary Responsibility, Administration, and Litigation Committee on Thursday, April 2, at 1 PM (Eastern), Noon (Central), 11 AM (Mountain), and 10 AM (Pacific) for a discussion of fiduciary issues related to breaches of health information.
The recent data breach announcements by high profile health plan vendors and insurers present a quagmire of legal and operational challenges for health plan fiduciaries and health plans. This discussion will explore challenges for plan fiduciaries, administrators and sponsors and will include a discussion of the following issues.
•       Who is the fiduciary with responsibility over these matters
•       ERISA fiduciary duties to investigate and respond to breaches
•       Fiduciary obligations in connection with selection of vendors
•       Curtailing data leakage and breach exposure by addressing delegation rights of vendors
•       Interaction with HIPAA, IRC, and other laws
•       Breach notification and ERISA communication duties
•       Operational challenges
Our call was led by Lisa Van Fleet and Chuck Thulin, Fiduciary Responsibility, Administration, and Litigation Committee Co- Chairs, along with Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.

The RPTE Employee Benefit Plans and Other Compensation Arrangements Group held a call led by the Welfare Benefit Plans Committee on Friday, March 6, 2015 for a discussion of “Hot Topics.”

Our discussion included:

•        What is on your short list of "Hot Topics"?
•         ACA litigation, including King v Burwell
•        Self-reporting ACA violations
•        Other topics, including cafeteria plan elections, etc.
•        "Employer "play-or-pay" mandate
•        Employer reporting on the B and C Forms
•        Employee/Independent Contractor Classification Issues
Discussion leaders: Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, LLC and Elizabeth Ysla Leight, SPBA, Welfare Benefits Committee Co-Chairs

The RPTE Employee Benefit Plans and Other Compensation Arrangements Group held a conference call led by the Plan Transactions and Terminations Committee on Friday, January 16, 2015 for a discussion of U.S. Pension Plan liabilities of foreign entities: extraterritoriality, jurisdiction and enforcement.

Harold Ashner of Keightley & Ashner LLP provided a PBGC update. Stanley Hecht of Keightley & Ashner discussed recent litigation involving jurisdiction and application of the controlled group rules to a non-U.S. based company that purchased a U.S. company with a defined benefit plan, where the U.S. company later went into bankruptcy and the plan was terminated and trusteed by the PBGC.

ERISA and the IRC provide for joint and several liability of a contributing sponsor and the members of its controlled group with respect to various defined benefit pension plan liabilities, including those relating to plan termination. The amounts of these liabilities may be significant. There has been recent litigation in U.S. district court involving a non-U.S. based purchaser of a U.S. based company that sponsored a defined benefit plan, where the U.S. based company later went into bankruptcy and the plan was terminated and trusteed by the PBGC. Issues that were litigated include whether jurisdiction existed for a PBGC action for joint and several pension termination liabilities against the foreign parent, and whether as a matter of substance the controlled group rules and attendant statutory pension liability provisions applied to the actions of the purchaser, which was located outside of the United States. The case, captioned PBGC v. Asahi Tec Corp., recently settled, but generated two published pre-trial district court decisions that address these issues. The law in this area is developing and there appears to be a conflict in the case law, with resultant uncertainty. A significant unresolved issue is the collectability of a judgment for pension liabilities against a foreign member of a controlled group that does not have assets in the United States.

The RPTE Employee Benefit Plans and Other Compensation Arrangements Group for a conference call led by the IRA Accounts and Plan Distributions Committee on Wednesday, November 19, 2014.

IRAs continue to grow in size as employees receive distributions from qualified retirement plans. Due to the importance of IRAs, the following topics, among possible others, will be addressed during the Group Conference call:

Are individuals receiving proper investment advice for IRA accounts?

The call was led by Frank Palmieri and Bernard Kearse.      

- The decision making process of determining whether a retiring participant is better served by keeping his 401(k) plan account balance at the company or rolling it over into an IRA.

- Proper disclosure and documentation when a participant takes a distribution from a 401(k) plan to a IRA Rollover account.

- When do Roth Conversions make sense.

Inherited IRAs are not protected in bankruptcy, as a result of the recent Supreme Court decision. (A brief discussion of new issues that have arisen since our last conference calls.)

Continued discussion of issues related to stretch IRAs in estate planning – discussion of challenges.

The RPTE Employee Benefit Plans and Other Compensation Arrangements Group held a conference call led by the Fiduciary Committee on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 1 PM (Eastern), Noon (Central), 11 AM (Mountain), and 10 AM (Pacific) for a discussion of the company stock funds and related fiduciary duties and issues in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer. Our discussion was led by Lisa Van Fleet, Partner with Bryan Cave LLP. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer that the Moench presumption of prudence is dead and that fiduciary decisions relating to company stock funds will be subject to the same standard of review as all other fiduciary decisions. Their decision calls for review and revision of fiduciary procedures relating to company stock funds. A recording of this call was not made available this month.

Section Events

    Same-Sex Marriage and Estate Planning: Nope, It’s Not Over Yet!


    On June 26th, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the right of same-sex couples to marry is constitutionally protected and thus available on a nationwide basis. While the ruling provides some clarity, it also raises new questions. It brings new state property rights and ...

    2015 Skills Training for Estate Planners - Advanced Topics

    New York Law School
    New York

    Thank you for your interest in the ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Skills Training for Estate Planners CLE Course. This email confirms your acceptance into the class and acknowledges receipt of your registration.The program will be held July 15-17, 2015 at the New York Law School, ...

    Live From Skill Training: Planning for the Probate Contest


    Although many estate planning arrangements are implemented without controversy, given family dynamics involved in such planning, drafting attorneys should be mindful of the possibility that family members will disagree. Those who are dissatisfied with an estate plan may resort to court proceedings. ...

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Talavera, Henry

Council Representative:

Spratt, James


Silver-Malyska, Tara

Committee Roster  

Modified by Henry Talavera on April 29, 2015

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