Is Your Business ERISA Compliant? How To Make Sure Your Small Business Is In Compliance

‘Compliance’ is a term that is commonly heard in the business world. Having a business that is in compliance is often a goal for many small businesses. However, if you are wondering is your business ERISA compliant, it cannot simply be a goal. In fact, ERISA non-compliance is the law, and stiff penalties await any business that fails to follow the law.

The ERISA, or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, is a Federal law that stipulates specific minimum standards for welfare plans, health plans and retirement plans that qualify. Although this sounds simple enough at first glance, right beneath the surface lies the confusion and complexity of the law that often stops small business owners in their tracks.

The complexity of the law is becoming even more evident, especially with the passing of certain legislation such as the PPACA, or Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act. This is also known as the Health Care Reform Act. The PPACA has a direct impact on health plans that are covered by ERISA.

The Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service are two Federal agencies that not only oversee these types of plans but also work to ensure the plans are enforced. These agencies are also paying very close attention to sponsors, those who are compliant and those who are not. Between 2008 and 2010, over 70 percent of these retirement plans were audited by the DoL (Department of Labor), and the penalties averaged over $400,000 per plan.

So, with all of this information, it can be nerve-wracking for business owners to know is your business ERISA compliant. Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to make sure businesses are indeed compliant.

Plan Documents

All plan documents have to be compliant with the regulations and laws. Any amendments made to the documents have to be signed by the appropriate parties wherever applicable. All plan operations are also required to be in compliance.

Having A Summary Plan Description And Summary Of Benefits In Place

A summary plan description, or SPD, is information that informs participants about all of the terms and conditions of the plan. Some of the information included is:

Obligations
Rights
Benefits

These SPDs are typically given to participants, and ERISA compliance requires that these documents are automatically sent to participants within a certain time frame.

On the other hand, an SBC (summary of benefits and coverage) provides participants with general information and they also allow participants the opportunity to compare different health plans before choosing one.

Employers can choose to integrate these two documents, but failure to provide one or the other is an ERISA violation that can result in hefty fines.

Health Plans Compliant With ERISA

Almost all group health plans should have SPD. These types of plans include all key medical benefits, but also include plans for dental, wellness, and vision. It is important to remember that the rules for ERISA apply to more than just the main health benefits, so be sure you account for all of them.

Responsibility Of Plan Administrator
ERISA compliance is the job of the plan administrator. This can be a designated person within the organization, or it can be the employer (sponsor of the plan). The plan administrator must be named in the SPD (summary plan description), and this person is not able to avoid liability for any SPDs by delegating tasks to other people in the organization.

Also, keep in mind that most TPAs (third-party administrators) are not usually designated to be plan administrators of ERISAs. However, they may assist with the distribution and drafting of a summary plan description if they are under contract.

Insurers are not responsible for creating SPDs for ERISAs either. They may decide to assist with benefit descriptions or certificates of coverage, but these items are not considered SPDs.

So, is your business ERISA compliant? These regulations can be difficult to understand, but by working with compliance professionals and resources, you will avoid making costly mistakes.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you or a business is in need of ERISA compliance services. We will provide best service for best price. Form 5500 Champions!

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The Idea and Process Behind Benefits Compliance

The benefits compliance process is well documented and is a much needed part of a US based business.

Before starting a business, you must know the government’s rules first. A company’s laws depend on a few things like its size, number of employees and property type.

Labor laws exist to ensure people’s satisfaction with their professional lives. An employer must always know how to form good relationships with their employees. To do so, they must understand the needs of their people, and cater to those specific needs.

In a work setting, employees often look for ways to improve their lives. One way they do this is by taking advantage of certain benefits. Benefit plans in business exist for this very purpose. A good employer must know the importance of following benefits compliance.

In general, employees usually avail of health plans, welfare plans, retirement arrangements, profit sharing plans, life insurance, disability insurance and medical coverage. Most of these benefit plans are under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as of 1974. ERISA’s main aim is to protect the employees’ rights to a good well-being.

Compliance of benefit plans follows a certain process. First, most companies must do the Form 5500 preparation. The Form 5500 is the annual report of employee information. It contains and collects the major details about a person’s benefit plans. Companies with 100 or more employees who have benefit plans must file the Form 5500 every year. Participants don’t cover dependents. They only include employees, retirees and primary COBRA beneficiaries. For companies with fewer than 100 participants, a different form is otherwise used.

Attached to the Form 5500 are schedules. The schedule attached depends on certain categories, like the type of filer. Usually considered when filling out the Form 5500 are financial transactions, retirement pension, insurance contracts, defined benefit plan information, and service providers. All requested information must be filled out as indicated in the Form 5500.

As of 2010, all variations of Form 5500, along with the schedules, must be submitted online. In this case, one uses the EFAST2 system. DOL allows the use of EFAST2-approved third-party software. Another alternative is its online filing system IFILE . The due date of filing the form is within seven months following the end of the plan year. Another option, though, is submitting a Form 5558 to extend the due date by two and a half months. The Form 5500 series is bound to all guidelines set by the DOL, IRS and PBGC. One receives penalties when they fail to submit the requirements on time. The Form 5500 is used to measure economic and psychological trends in industry. The form acts a disclosure tool and protects the rights of the participating people.

An employer is always encouraged to provide welfare benefit plans to their employees. For organization purposes, ERISA also mandates the use of wrap plan document. This document records the terms and conditions of each benefit plan. Its design makes it so that it includes all information required by ERISA. A well-drafted plan document consists of eligibility requirements, plan procedures, and coverage length. In short, it must provide an accurate summary of the plan’s information. It should encourage strict compliance to ERISA’s requirements. Its purpose also is to help the company easily keep track of many documents all at once. This assists in wide-scope auditing and decision-making.

Meeting the requirements for benefits compliance is a necessity in every company. It’s a task that requires an ability to keep up with new updates and changes in the industry. Hence, businesses usually hire experts to handle the processing of benefit plans. Additionally, there must be a smooth delivery of information between the people involved. In this case, it’s between the regulators and the clients. It’s important that everyone is aware of the different principles they should follow. On the other hand, a good management team must be capable of abiding by the rules. They must watch over the entire process of benefits compliance. This is so they can identify any possible issues as soon as they rise up. Making informed decisions is a must in business.


Benefits Compliance Consultants Inc.

Phone: (515) 244-2424

Our company specializes in benefits compliance services for delinquent filer voluntary compliance program, Form 5500, wrap plan document, 401k preparation filings and much more.

 

 

End of Year ERISA Benefits Compliance For Your Business

Is your business  prepared and setup properly for a prosperous and compliant new year?

Many of us tend to approach the start of a new year with a degree of optimism in mind. When we own a business, however, the new year can be something to look forward to but the end of the year can be a stressful time that is full of uncertainty. To be certain, taking care of things at the end of the year as far as benefits and compliance are concerned is vitally important. Not only does it help you to your wrap the previous year up nicely, it allows you look forward to the new year with a renewed sense of vigor.

One of the factors that need to be considered in this regard is to get your business compliance ready for the year’s end. At times, this may require that you get a workers compensation policy and if that is the case, you need to consider many different factors that are going to affect how that policy is handled in the coming year. For example, how often are you going to pay and what is the expiration date with your current carrier? You also need to consider the worker’s comp claims that may have happened in the recent past as well as some information about the business and the owner of the business as well. These are all factors that can make a difference and they are part of a simple checklist to get your company compliance ready.

Other factors that need to be considered very carefully are the benefits and these need to be compiled and put together by the end of the calendar year. In some cases, notices may need to be distributed to employees from the insurance health marketplace. This is something that needs to be done in order to keep you in compliance and to avoid any problems that could occur as a result of not sending out that notice. In addition, there may be health insurance benefits that are available for certain employees and notice may be given to them within a certain amount of time they become eligible.

There are many other factors that can help to get your benefits ready for the end of the year but they really depend on what type of benefits you are offering. If you have a retirement plan in place for your employees and perhaps you are vesting some of the money that they are donating, you may need to consider the eligibility for some of your employees for the retirement plan. They may want to get on board with the new year and they should be informed they are now eligible.

Health insurance is also a very big factor that needs to be considered, especially with some of the major changes that took place in recent years. Many employers are going to need to provide health insurance for their employees or at the very least, they are going to have to provide the opportunity for the insurance to be accepted under group rates. This may require that you crunch the numbers, including figuring out how many full-time employees you currently have because that can make a difference in your need to participate in the health insurance program.

When there are health insurance options available, it is necessary for you to notify any full-time employees that you have on staff that they may be eligible for insurance coverage. Included in that number is anyone who may have been hired in the past year as well as part-time employees who have come on board as a full-time employee. In some cases, you may even qualify for tax credits if you have enough full-time employees that are eligible and taking advantage of the health insurance program.

Does your company offer any benefits in the way of sick time, personal time or vacation time? These are also factors that should be reviewed at the end of the year and any necessary notification should be sent out. Deferred compensation may also be a factor that needs to be considered during this time.

Of course, each business is going to have different options when it comes to reviewing and compiling information for benefits compliance. Some businesses may be relatively small or they may not offer options that would really put them in the line of fire as far as this is concerned. Other businesses, however, hire a lot of employees and in doing so, it is necessary for them to do the paperwork at the end of the year.

Keeping up with paperwork can be difficult but it is a necessity if you want your business to operate smoothly. Take the time to do it now at the end of the year and you will find that the new year goes along much better as a result of your efforts.


Is Your Business ERISA Compliant And Legally Prepared for 2018?

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Summary Plan Description Translation

A plan summary is an important part of your company’s benefits documentation, telling your employees how their healthcare and retirement plans work. An inadequate or poorly communicated plan summary leaves your company and your sponsors open to liability. The plan summary and the communication of it should not be an afterthought, as it is very important to the functioning of the benefits plan. Make sure all of your employees have access to the rights and obligations of their benefits plan.

What about in cases where your employees don’t all speak English? Some employers have many employees across the country who speak a variety of languages; how do you communicate your summary plan description to them appropriately? What are your legal obligation to those employees with regards to their benefits plan.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer that applies in all cases. But luckily for the HR department, it’s not that hard to figure out what the answer should be for your company. There are some straightforward regulations that apply in this situation.

The wording in ERISA does not specifically require that SPDs are translated into other languages besides English. However, if your company’s 401(k) plan has more than a specified minimum number of employees on it who can only read a certain foreign language (and they all read the same foreign language), your company is required to give those employees language assistance in order to access their plan documentation.

For plans which have fewer than one hundred participants when the plan year begins, if 25% of those participating can read only the same foreign language, you must provide language assistance to those employees. For example, if your company has 75 employees participating in the benefits plan, and more than 19 of them can read only in Spanish, you will need to provide Spanish language assistance to those participants.

For those plans which have more than 100 participants when the plan year starts, your company is required to provide language assistance if either 10% of the participants or 500 participants all read only in the same foreign language. The requirement applies if your company meets the lesser of the two participant thresholds.

This does not mean that you must hand out translated copies of the summary plan documentation, however. Instead, your summary plan documents must feature a prominent notice somewhere on them, stating that your company is offering foreign language assistance and where that assistance can be obtained. If you need an example of this kind of notice, you can find one on the Department of Labor’s website. https://www.dol.gov

Language assistance doesn’t mean you have to provide written material in the foreign language even at the location where the assistance is offered. Regulations require that the employees are given a “reasonable opportunity” to understand the rights and obligation of the companies benefit plan. This will probably require a native speaker (or a fluent foreign speaker) of the relevant language who has time to work with the employees and understands the intricacies of the plan.

One way to find this person among your employees is to ask for volunteers who are fluent in both the foreign language in question and English. This person becomes the contact person for your company in dealing with plan issues for those employees not comfortable reading in English. This person should definitely be present at any presentations of the benefit plan and any question and answer sessions regarding the plan, since the rapid-fire format is likely to be difficult for non-native speakers.

Beyond the legal requirements, there is also a moral requirement to do right by your employees. The bar is very high for accessing plan documentation in a foreign language, considering how many employees need to be using the same non-English language before the legal requirements kick in. Offering services to employees who don’t speak or read English goes a long way to build morale and company loyalty, even if you aren’t legally required to do so.

Like anything else about benefit plan documentation, understanding translation requirements is important to making sure your company follows all relevant regulations. Luckily, in this case, the rules are relatively straightforward and simple to figure out.


 

What Our ERISA Compliance Business Will Do For Your Company

Bc2 specialize in ERISA compliance and Form 5500 preparation.

Many accounting and law firms claim to be able to support your company in its efforts to be compliant. And, then the surprise letter arrives in the mail citing non-compliance and assessing thousands of dollars in fines for every employee affected by such transgressions.

Our ERISA compliance business will save you from extremely costly business-breaking surprises. We not only build a relationship with your company, but we provide a sturdy knowledge base that demonstrates expertise in all things ERISA compliance.

We even have proven client experience to show that we put you in the position to truly be compliant. This is one time to be ahead of the eight ball. No one wants to raise eyebrows at the Federal level. It is just another hassle and would cost a lot in pulling paperwork out of storage, off of old drives, while detracting resources from your business’s bread and butter: daily operations.

It is best to have a process in place that ensures all paperwork to be in compliance is completed and stored for easy access by HR. Our ERISA compliance business will set up such a process with you to ensure that it works within the scope of how your business already functions.

Congratulations if you own a business that is successful enough to hire on employees. Now, get ready to invest in them, according to the Federal laws and regulations, and local state laws as well. The Federal government’s ERISA is the topic here.

What Is ERISA?
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 is also known as ERISA. It is actually a Federal law that on what types of information needs to be collected and filed away for employees who are going to receive benefits. It sets the bar for the minimum voluntarily pension, for instance, as well as for health plans for use within the private sector. In essence, ERISA provides protection for the individual employees who are parked in such plans.

Why Is ERISA Important?
While it is important to follow Federal laws to avoid costly fines, there are more compelling reasons to follow ERISA. For one, it is out of respect for the very people who contribute to your company, committing their time and lives to your success, essentially.

What Our ERISA Compliance Business Will Do For You
ERISA puts the obligation for administrative management of employee benefit plan paperwork on the employer who is providing such benefits. It includes plans such as retirement, health insurance, welfare and other benefits management. In other words, yes, ERISA makes requirements on employers about the way the benefits are managed.

As a compliance service provider, we ensure your company’s HR understand the legal requirements. This allows the HR team to adhere to ERISA properly. In addition, we recommend having HR management oversight to ensure that ERISA requirements are met.

What Does ERISA Cover?
As it turns out ERISA encompasses many different programs or welfare plans. In this case welfare plans refer to any funds, plans, or programs that give employees’s access to disability, death, and accident benefits, along with surgical, medical, surgical, and hospital access.

What many people forget is that unemployment insurance benefits are actually provided through contributions made by employers and administered through accurate payroll assignments by the employer on behalf of its individual employees. ERISA is very much connected to unemployment through new hire forms and taxation of the employer.

Other surprising areas touch by ERISA even include scholarships, days off, training plans, legal services, daycare, severance, and of course retirement programs.

ERISA Components
Reporting by administrators to the DOL and IRS simply means describing in summary how the employer’s coverage works.

ERISA Forms And Disclosure
Filing forms is a big part of the deal with ERISA. It requires annual reporting to the IRS on Form 5500/5500-SF. DOL welfare plan forms are required if there are more than 100 participants with full benefits. Other forms required by the IRS for retirement plans are not required to be filed at the same time as welfare plan forms.

Companies are under a lot of pressure to focus on their bottom line and in growing revenue. Turn to professionals like us to ensure ERISA compliance.


 

Our Compliance Consulting Firm Can Help You Get Your Business Organized

There are quite a few reasons why business owners of all types reach out to consultants like www.bc2co.com. Many aspects of running a business require additional outsourced help without necessarily adding people to the payroll. It certainly is beneficial when you have consultants on your side to act quickly, help you problem solve, figure out solutions and find avenues for growth. Compliance is also key, and our compliance consulting firm is ready to serve you.

What is compliance all about? Well, if you are reading this post you probably have some idea but let’s pretend you don’t because there are many compliance issues that can arise, but let’s first talk about taxes. How do you feel about your taxes? Business owners can feel great about keeping the books and day to day operations, but when it comes to tax time, each new year can be a major headache. Not to mention, it’s not just the end of the fiscal year when business owners have to concern themselves with taxes. After all, you are making quarterly tax payments, filing receipts and keeping up with taxes throughout the year, aren’t you?

Do you need any documents prepared? Maybe you have been finding yourself with ongoing tax questions, and our compliance consulting firm could make things easier on you. It would be easier on everyone if taxes weren’t so difficult, right? There are people talking about wanting to change the tax laws, but we will see. Until then, we are here to serve you anytime you need consulting on any matters related to compliance issues.

What do you know about ERISA compliance? This has everything to do with employee benefits. We can even help you provide the best solutions of course. We will evaluate your business based on compliance laws and regulations and will help you determine how you need to move forward. Of course we aren’t in the business of compliance to out you as the business owner through the ringer. We want to help you succeed, and we are here to show you our undivided attention and dedication to finding the best and most affordable solutions for your business.

It matters who the compliance firms are networked with when it comes to helping you get things done. With the right connections, and we do have them, we can help you with all kinds of situations. What is your biggest concern right now? Where would you like us to get started? The introduction to our services began with tax compliance because that is an area where many business owners feel they need help.

Properly orientating, training and providing benefits to employees is also key as mentioned. Is your facility meeting safety standards? You don’t have to be told that this is huge. If there is anything wrong, it needs to be fixed. Safety standards must be revisited all the time to be sure your business is handling everything appropriately. What other kinds of compliance issues can arise? Why else would you need the services of our compliance consulting firm?

You can be sure that you are even going to find out more about what we can do for you when you call us. We will handle all of your questions. If there is something we can’t do, we can tell you why and still help you try and figure out what to do. We want to see you succeed as a business owner and not have to worry about compliance issues anymore. You can continuously consult with us as you see fit or check in with us again when you need our services in the future.

Understanding compliance can even be a little difficult if you are new to the game. That is even more of a reason to reach out to us so that we can go over all the concerns you have. Maybe a recent event has you questioning whether or not you need consultants to run a compliance check on your business. Don’t leave anything undone, and let us tell you if there are changes that need to be made. Perhaps you are told changes are necessary, but you don’t know what to do next. We can help you figure that out, too. For everything concerning compliance, we can assess what is going on and what is needed.

We are here to serve and help your business succeed with benefits compliance needs.

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A Summary Plan Description Overview: Do You Need One?

A summary plan description is what your company will use to communicate the plans rights as well as the obligations of the beneficiaries as well as the participants.

It is a summary of all the materials that are found in the plan document, and it should be in such a way that it is completely understandable to the average participant or beneficiary of the said employer, that is you. It should have some particular requirements so that it can qualify to be described as a summary plan description for your company. Such things are such as the name of the plan which is imperative to clearly outline what it is all about.

The name of the sponsor or that is you as the employer. Another important aspect of all this is the brief description of the benefits that the employee will receive. This is extremely of high importance that this is made clear as it is what the plan is all about. This can be benefits such as life, medical disability as well as dental. Another vital part is the type of plan description which should define whether the plan is administered by you the employer, or the insurer or a contract. Another part is important to remember is that the eligibility terms need to be outlined too.

The employees’ eligible classes, waiting a period of the employment and effect date of participation and much more are presented clearly. The plan contributions sources need to be described too, whether they are employee or employer contributions as well as the calculation method. These and many more other things need to be part of the SPD so that your company can be in a position to operate efficiently.

Your company needs this plan to be able to make sure that the employees are well taken care of in case of anything that is related to their health, life, and so many other things. This is a complicated plan that needs the right kind of professionals so that it can be prepared by both the employer and the employee.

SPD summary plan description

To ensure that both the parties are satisfied, some guidelines need to be followed to the letter so that it will emerge as a great plan that both will be for. You can not run a company without this scheme for your employees, so you need it.

The government requires that you run your company with this plan in hand so that if anything should happen to your employees, they will already be covered. This is why the qualified professionals need to handle SPD Summary Plan Description, and this is where we come in. We will help you structure this plan in a meticulous way that will enhance the effectiveness of the employees in the company. The kind of way that we will be able to prepare this for you will be in such a way that it will be accepted by the employees as well.

Our vast experience will guarantee that you do get what you are looking for as we have worked with similar companies before.

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What is a Summary Plan Description And Do We Need One For Our Business?

The federal law that governs group life, private pension, and health plans which is also known as The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), requires that plan participants receive a document known as a summary plan description (“SPD”). Two departments of labor must draft SPD, and it doesn’t necessary has to be referred to as “The Summary Plan Description.”

Contents in the Summary Plan Description.
The Summary Plan Description is a detailed document that informs plan participants about how the plan is managed and how it operates. Among other things, the SPD must clearly identify in easily understood language the following items:
1-A description or summary of the benefits.
2-The plan name, sponsor, and administration.
3-Funding mechanisms.
4-Participation and qualification guidelines.
5-Calculation methods for service and benefits.
6-Benefit vesting schedules.
7-Benefit payment procedures and timing.
8-Claims submission process.
9-Claims appeal process.
10-Address for service of legal process.
11- Circumstances that may result in ineligibility or a denial of benefits.
12- Technical notices and a report of participants’ in the ERISA.
13- Any questions that any member may have after reading the SDP can only be only answered by contacting the plan manager.

SPD Summary Plan Description

Summary Plan Description will be provided when:
Every plan manager must provide a copy of the SPD to members in the following circumstances:
1-When a new plan takes effect.
2-When an employee becomes eligible to participate in a plan.
3-Upon written request of a plan participant or beneficiary.

Summary Plan Description Exceptions.
Employer-provided daycare, highly compensated employees and welfare plans for management are exempt from the Summary Plan Description requirement. There are no exemptions from the Summary Plan Description requirement for small plans covering fewer than 100 participants.

How Often Must a Summary Plan Description be updated?
1-If a plan is modified or amended within a five-year period, a new Summary Plan description must be distributed to the members. In case the plan has not be changed, the original SPD must be distributed to plan participants every ten years.
2-A “summary of material modifications” may also be used to notify plan participants of a significant plan change.

What Are Common Summary Plan Description Errors that Can Result in ERISA Litigation?
1-Administration disputes or errors that may come up in ERISA litigation include but are not limited to.
2-Failure to follow the procedures described in the SPD.
3-Conflicts between the SPD and any underlying plan document which it describes or summarizes.
4-Failure to clearly disclose situations that may result in forfeitures, benefits reduction, or exclusions.
5-Failure to provide plan documents promptly.

Despite the amount of information contained in your Summary Plan Description, it should be written in a format that is simple to read. Just like with any piece of business writing, it is important to craft your business plan with your expected readers in mind. This is because bankers, investors, and other busy professionals who will read your business plan will not have time to read a tedious document with long-winded paragraphs and large blocks of text.

Overall, Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) provides clearly proscribed procedures that must be closely followed by plan administrators and sponsors. Questions about ERISA compliance should be directed to an attorney experienced in ERISA matters.

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