Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

CARES ACT & FFCRA Tax Credits for Eligible Employers

Posted On: October 26, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

CARES ACT & FFCRA Tax Credits for Eligible Employers Eligible employers are entitled to receive a credit in the full amount of the required sick leave and family leave, plus related health plan expenses and the employer’s share of Medicare tax on the leave, for the period of April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.  The refundable credit is applied against certain employment taxes on wages paid to all employees. Eligible employers can reduce federal employment tax deposits in anticipation of the credit.  They can also request an advance of the paid sick and family leave credits for any amounts not covered by the reduction in deposits. The advanced payments will be issued by paper check to employers. To learn more about these tax credits, click here.


3 ACA Reporting Errors and The Pandemic’s Impact

Posted On: October 22, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

3 ACA Reporting Errors and The Pandemic’s Impact As we approach the end of 2020, we must consider how the various enrollment fluctuations due to the COVID-19 Pandemic will impact the ACA Employer Mandate and the already tedious 1095/1094 ACA Reporting. The IRS recently granted a March 2nd deadline extension for the 1095 reporting and this extra time will likely be needed for employers to accurately audit their data as we are expecting to see additional errors due to furloughs, layoffs and coverage extensions. Prior to filing, employers should audit their reporting for the following common errors to avoid an unnecessary penalty letter. Enrollment Changes and Code Errors For each month an employee is offered coverage and one of codes 1B through 1E is entered in line 14, an employee should have a dollar amount indicated in line 15. If there are blank entries this could trigger a penalty for…


September Compliance Recap

Posted On: October 15, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

September Compliance Recap September was a relatively quiet month in the employee benefits world. President Trump issued an executive order on An America-First Healthcare Plan, noting the Administration’s actions on healthcare and planned actions going forward. A federal district court halted the repeal of certain provisions of the prior final rule on Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Department of Labor (DOL) released additional temporary regulations on the leave laws under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in response to a federal district court’s invalidation of certain provisions under the original temporary regulations issued by the DOL. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Security Risk Assessment Tool Version 3.2. The DOL released a final rule on Promoting Regulatory Openness Through Good Guidance…


Vegetable Chili Recipe

Posted On: October 14, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Vegetable Chili Recipe As the weather starts to turn, there’s nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of chili.  This recipe is loaded with lots of vegetables but it’s tasty too! You can certainly add to it if you’d like such as rice, quinoa, barley, small pasta or even shredded chicken.  You can swap in your favorite vegetables and beans as well. INGREDIENTS ¼  cup olive oil 2 zucchini, cut into ½-inch dice 2 onions, cut into ½-inch dice 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 large red bell peppers, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice 1 can (35 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, with their juice 1½ pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1 inch dice 2 tablespoons good-quality chili powder 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon dried basil 1 tablespoon dried oregano 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon fennel seeds ½ cup Chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley 1 cup canned dark red kidney beans, drained 1 cup canned chick-peas (garbanzos), drained ½ cup chopped fresh dill 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 cup sour cream 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese 4 scallions (green onions), white bulb and 3 inches green, sliced…


Have You Received an MLR Rebate Check? What To Do Next?

Posted On: October 9, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

Have You Received an MLR Rebate Check? What To Do Next? The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance carriers to spend at least 80-85 percent of premium dollars on medical care and healthcare quality improvement. If the carrier does not meet this medical loss ratio (MLR) obligation, it must give affected customers a rebate.  Rebates must be distributed by the carriers each year by September 30. Any employer that receives a refund then needs process and distribute within 90 days to avoid triggering ERISA trust requirements. For your convenience we have included more information regarding this topic in our compliance bulletin, including: How should the rebate be divided? Are former plan participants entitled to a share in the rebate? How may the employer use the rebate? How should the rebate be provided? Additional Q&As on how the rebate should be used If you have any questions about distribution or how…


Dust Off That Old Policy: Why Now is a Good Time to Review Your Life Insurance Policies

Posted On: October 8, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Dust Off That Old Policy: Why Now is a Good Time to Review Your Life Insurance Policies As a result of the COVID-19 National Emergency, insurance companies have modified their underwriting requirements to help individuals secure additional life insurance protection. Through new “relaxed” underwriting guidelines, insurers are offering coverage without an exam that requires a nurse to visit your home or office. These relaxed guidelines offer a convenient way to increase insurance amounts, with death benefits up to $3,000,000 available for most age groups.  Due to these relaxed guidelines, now is a good time for employers and individuals to review their existing in force policies for key person, buy/sell or estate planning purposes. Innovative recommends the following when reviewing your life insurance programs: Term Insurance Understand your conversion options, particularly the date at which the conversion period ends. Does the period end at a specific age, a specific number of…


IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline for Furnishing Statements for 2020 from February 1 to March 2, 2021

Posted On: October 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline for Furnishing Statements for 2020 from February 1 to March 2, 2021 As the deadline for reporting of group health coverage offered in 2020 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) approaches, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) has issued IRS Notice 2020-76 (Notice) regarding deadline extensions and requirements as it has done in prior years. In past years, the IRS provided relief to employers who made a good faith effort to comply with the information reporting requirements and determined that they would not be subject to penalties for failure to correctly or completely file. This did not apply to employers that failed to timely file or furnish a statement. Under the Notice, this relief has been extended for group health coverage offered in 2020. As in prior years, the relief is applied only to incorrect or incomplete information reported on the statement or…


How Employers Can Show Support on World Mental Health Awareness Day

Posted On: October 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

How Employers Can Show Support on World Mental Health Awareness Day World Mental Health Day is recognized annually to promote education for global mental health, as well as create awareness and advocacy against social stigma.   This yearly observance has occurred since 1992 and carries with it a yearly theme.  It falls on October 10th, and the goal of this year’s theme is increased investment in mental health, with a focus on expanding the availability of mental health resources for all. Statistically, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. have a mental health disorder, while 1 in 22 adults live with a serious mental illness such as bipolar, depression, or schizophrenia. This COVID-19 pandemic has only led to increased mental health problems due to isolation, fear, and social distancing.  With that being said, it is imperative that we support the World Federation for Mental Heath’s view that, “ there is no…


Participant Risk Assessment

Posted On: September 28, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Participant Risk Assessment As we work our way through a market recovery and closer to what could be a greater period of uncertainty around the upcoming election, now may be a good time for participants to review the equity risk associated with their retirement account and understand if their current investments are properly aligned with their objectives or if adjustments are necessary. The first step would be to review their investor profile/strategy, then assess if their current investments are properly aligned with their objectives, and last decide if adjustments are necessary. The retirement team here at Innovative is here to help our client’s employees with this review process by completing our simple asset allocation questionnaire. Once completed, we will review their current plan investments and discuss potential changes in their allocation. To review your options or if you feel this service would be beneficial to your employees, please feel free…


New FAQs Address Questions Employers May Ask to Screen Employees for COVID-19 and ADA Requirements for Handling Employees’ Medical Information 

Posted On: September 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

New FAQs Address Questions Employers May Ask to Screen Employees for COVID-19 and ADA Requirements for Handling Employees' Medical Information  On Sept. 8, 2020, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued additional answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how employers should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. The additional FAQs, which address the types of information employers may or may not require from employees, how employers must handle employees' medical information and other ADA issues, were added to guidance that the EEOC originally issued on March 18 and updated in April, May and June 2020. The existing guidance also addresses workplace accommodations, medical exams and other ADA-related issues. Please contact us with any questions!  


Zucchini Bread Recipe

Posted On: September 22, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Zucchini Bread Recipe Ingredients: 1 ½ cup shredded zucchini ½ cup honey 2 eggs ⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp nutmeg ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted Optional: ½ cup walnuts or ½ cup chocolate chips Instructions: Preheat oven to 325°. Grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, honey, eggs, almond milk, vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. Next, add in coconut oil and mix. Fold in walnuts or chocolate chips if desired. Pour in to prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 slice Calories 202 Total Fat 8.9g Saturated Fat 4.5g Protein…


Innovative’s 2nd Annual Well-Being @ Work Summit

Posted On: September 21, 2020 | Categorized as: Events, Workplace Wellness

Innovative's 2nd Annual Well-Being @ Work Summit On September 15th, 2020, Innovative Benefit Planning hosted the 2nd Annual Well-Being @ Work Summit, which is dedicated to making workplaces healthier (but with a twist)! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team had decided to create a virtual event in order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.  However, going virtual this year ended up opening up many doors, including the opportunity to welcome a total of 8 speakers! Attendees even received a “registration box” which included a shirt for the day of the summit, promotional items from sponsors such as cups, mints, tooth brushes, and hand sanitizer, as well as a drink kit and Innovative face mask.  The event had a wonderful turnout, including HR professionals, C-Suite decision-makers, health and well-being professionals and top well-being vendors in the industry. The morning started out on the right foot with a…


August Compliance Recap

Posted On: September 9, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

August 2020 Compliance Recap August was a relatively busy month in the employee benefits world. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released an updated report on health savings accounts (HSAs) that summarizes the principal rules governing HSAs and changes made to HSAs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued amended guidance allowing health plans to use protected health information (PHI) to contact individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 regarding donating blood plasma. A federal district court invalidated certain provisions of the regulations implementing the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The U.S. Supreme Court announced the date for oral arguments in the court case challenging the constitutionality of the ACA. The Small Business Administration (SBA) released frequently asked questions (FAQs) on…


What Steps Can Plan Sponsors and Retirement Plan Committee Members Take to Protect Themselves?

Posted On: August 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

What Steps Can Plan Sponsors and Retirement Plan Committee Members Take to Protect Themselves? When managing a qualified retirement plan, there are certain duties the plan sponsor and committee members have to the plan and participants as named fiduciaries. These duties create liability for the plan sponsor and committee members for decisions made regarding the plan. In recent years, retirement plan lawsuits relating to fees have become more prevalent. Additionally, these suits are beginning to impact smaller plans, such as the Greystar 401(k) plan in 2019 which had less than $250,000,000 in assets. How can plan sponsors and committee members ensure that they are taking all the necessary steps to protect themselves? Develop Well Documented and Structured Processes to Monitor Investments Investment selection goes beyond lowest cost or best performing investment. Instead, a holistic review of the fund’s fees, performance and other metrics leads to better investment options for the…


Fresh and Healthy Fajitas

Posted On: August 18, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Fresh and Healthy Fajitas Ingredients: 16oz boneless skinless chicken breasts 1red bell pepper, cut into strips 1green bell pepper, cut into strips 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips 1medium red onion, cut into strips 3tbsp lime juice salt and pepper to taste 3 TBSP of fajita seasoning 2tsp olive oil 8reduced-carb whole wheat flour tortillas, or corn tortillas for gluten free Fajita Seasoning: 1 TBSP cornstarch 2 tsp chili powder 1 tsp salt I tsp paprika ½ tsp onion powder ½ tsp garlic powder ¼ tsp cayenne powder ½ tsp ground cumin Instructions: Marinate the chicken with lime juice, and season with fajita seasoning. Season vegetables with salt and pepper and toss with olive oil. Use a large skillet on the stove over medium heat and saute veges, cover with a lid until they are soft, then remove from skillet. Cook chicken with a tablespoon of olive oil until cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board…


July Compliance Recap

Posted On: August 5, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

July was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The U.S. Supreme Court (Supreme Court) upheld the religious exemption and moral exemption final rules to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive mandate. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released the indexed 2021 ACA affordability percentage. The President signed a law extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application deadline. The IRS released draft ACA reporting forms for 2020. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) (collectively, the Departments) released proposed rules on grandfathered health plans. A U.S. court of appeals upheld the short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI) final rule. HHS published a revised confidentiality of substance use disorder patient records final rule. The IRS issued a private letter ruling on health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) and profit-sharing plan contributions. The IRS also issued an information letter…


Skinny Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Posted On: August 3, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Skinny Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Makes 12-15 cookies    Ingredients: 1 cup quick oats 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons butter, melted 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 large egg 1/2 cup honey 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In one bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Melt the butter in another bowl. Whisk in the vanilla, egg, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to stir. Save about half of the chocolate chips. Use a sharp knife to roughly chop the remaining chocolate, then fold it into the dough. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes, or freeze for 15 minutes. Use your hands to shape the dough into roughly 15 cookies…


Return to Work Training Kit

Posted On: July 29, 2020 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

Return to Work Training Kit Bring your employees back to work safely with our “Return to Work Training Kit.” Innovative has developed two training tools that you can use in conjunction with each other to educate your employees on what you are doing in response to COVID-19, understand what they can do, answer any frequently asked questions, and provide resources and who they should communicate with. In this kit, you will find: Training Video - We have developed an animated safety training video that outlines important behavior modifications such as hand washing, social distancing, symptoms, and more. "Welcome Back" PowerPoint Template - Use this 28-page template as a training guide to educate your employees on new policies and procedures. In this editable document, you can easily customize any copy in red to your specific organization. Innovative Benefit Planning is here to walk alongside you during this time. We hope you…


Important Plan Considerations Regarding FSA Mid-Year Changes

Posted On: July 29, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

Important Plan Considerations Regarding FSA Mid-Year Changes As you are aware, in order to provide additional relief to Americans during these challenging times, the IRS released Notice 2020-29 and 2020-33. These notices provided new relaxed rules for 2020 that affected Health Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). As a reminder if you have allowed employees to make changes mid year, please be aware of the following: Making Changes to Elections: Enrollees will be unable to elect less than what they have used or contributed, whatever amount is greater. Enrollees who stop their contributions will retain access to funds in their account via their debit card. If any funds are leftover at the end of the year these will be eligible for any applicable grace period or carry over. Important Plan Consideration: Please note reducing future deductions to $0 is different than terminating a member’s plan. An active employee who chooses to “terminate”…


Put Your Advisor to the Test

Posted On: July 27, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Put Your Advisor to the Test Ask these critical questions to test the knowledge of future plan advisors. A knowledgeable plan advisor is an important component in the successful operation of your qualified plan. However, selecting the right candidate requires more than simply reviewing typical Request for Proposal (RFP) responses. RFPs are an important part of the process, but boilerplate questions may draw generalized, high-level responses that reveal few details about a potential advisors’ knowledge. You should make sure the potential advisor possesses broad industry experience and expertise that applies to your unique situation. It only takes a few questions to put them to the test. So, as you consider prospective plan advisors, here are some non-boilerplate questions that you can ask to assess their knowledge. Under what scenario would my plan need a BRF test? Sometimes, plan designs create different benefits for different classes of participants. The BRF (Benefits,…


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