Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

Posted On: April 29, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

PPP blocks

Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement ActIn response to the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PPPHCEA) into law on April 24, 2020. The PPPHCEA is phase 3.5 in Congress' response to the COVID-19 pandemic following the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The PPPHCEA is a $484 billion package that increases amounts authorized and appropriated for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) discussed in our April 2, 2020, and April 13, 2020, Advisors for emergency economic injury disaster loans (EIDL) and for emergency grants under the CARES Act. The PPPHCEA also provides additional funding for health care providers.PPP FundingThe PPP was established under the CARES Act to provide small employers with an incentive to keep workers on their…


4 Tips for a Volatile Market

Posted On: April 29, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

The COVID-19 National Emergency has impacted nearly every part of our daily lives and the investment market is no exception. When account balances fluctuate, it is tempting to make quick investment decisions. Before you do, consider a few investing tips to guide your investments through volatile markets. Remain Calm Many investors will hear bad news about the stock market performance and get nervous. Their instinct might be to sell stocks and move to bonds or cash, essentially trying to time the market to avoid losses. A word of caution: trying to time the market is very challenging in that you have to be right twice – when to get out (before the drop, which you likely missed) and when to get back in. Trying to time the market can cause investors to miss the highest- performing days, which can have a significant impact on growth. You should focus on your…


Relaxed Life, Disability and Long-Term Care Insurance Underwriting

Posted On: April 28, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

As a result of the COVID-19 National Emergency, insurance companies have adapted to help individuals easily secure protection and obtain insurance without a medical exam that requires a nurse to visit your home or office. This is a TEMPORARY change that will likely end when social distancing can stop. How This Can help You:  You may get approved for the insurance products listed below without having to complete a medical exam or provide fluids during the underwriting process: Term and & Permanent Insurance Age 18-65: Up to $5,000,000 of death benefit Age 66-70: Up to $3,000,000 of death benefit Long-Term Care Insurance No limit on monthly LTC benefit Disability Insurance Age 18-45: No limit on monthly benefit Simplified Application Process Go to the insurance carrier’s online submission tool with Innovative to complete the electronic application. Electronically sign any necessary forms for your application. The insurance carrier will schedule and conduct…


Creating a Financial Wellness Program

Posted On: April 28, 2020 | Categorized as: Events

The case for financial wellness from an employee and employer perspective Many employers incorporate a health wellness program into their organization, but financial wellness is just as important. Studies show that 47% of all employees are stressed about finances and 54% of those employees say they will likely use their retirement funds for expenses other than retirement.1 Employees who are stressed about money or debt often bring that stress into the workplace, causing lower productivity, higher absentee rates and neglect or postponing of personal healthcare. In addition, employees that cannot retire may have a negative impact on employer profitability (higher healthcare/workman’s compensation costs) and impede the development of the next generation of leaders. 5 Steps for Creating a Financial Wellness Program Discovery Understand your organizational goals and objectives. Review current demographic and participation information of existing benefit programs. Survey employees to determine their financial literacy level and pain points. Analyze…


Healthier Mac and Cheese Recipe

Posted On: April 15, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

mac and cheese in a bowl

Healthier Mac and Cheese Recipe Ingredients: 2 Cups Elbow Macaroni, Fusilli or Cavatappi Pasta 2 Tbsp Butter 2 Tbsp Flour 2 Cups 2% Milk 1-1/2 Cups Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese 1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt 1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions until just al dente. Drain and reserve. While pasta cooks, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Slowly add milk, whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Simmer for 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken to the consistency of heavy cream. Stir in the Cheddar and a ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese, cook until completely melted. Cut the heat and stir in the yogurt. Add the pasta and toss evenly to coat. Preheat the broiler. Pour the macaroni and cheese into an 8” x 8”…



Gov. Murphy Signs Executive Order Granting Grace Periods for Insurance Premium Payments

Posted On: April 14, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

Gov. Murphy Signs Executive Order Granting Grace Periods for Insurance Premium Payments On April 9, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 123, extending grace periods during which certain insurance companies, including health and dental insurers, life insurers, and property and casualty insurers, will not be able to cancel policies for nonpayment of premiums. Grace Periods for Small Group Employer (0-50 EE’s) Grace period may be initially applied to April or May premium as the policyholder determines and will continue for 60 days from that date. Coverage MUST remain in force and claims must be paid not pended. If a carrier has already provided a grace period for April premium, the time period for which a grace period has already been granted shall be applied toward the emergency grace period. Grace period only applies to policyholders that were in good standing with their insurance carrier on March 1,…


March Compliance Recap

Posted On: April 14, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

March was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law. The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a bulletin regarding enforcement of the FFCRA. The President also signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law. The DOL issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) on providing leave under the FFCRA that have been updated multiple times since first being issued. The DOL also issued an employee's rights notice that employers subject to the FFCRA are required to post and issued employee and employer fact sheets on the FFCRA. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notice regarding health savings account (HSA) qualified HDHP coverage of testing and treatment related to COVID-19 without meeting a minimum deductible. The IRS also issued a notice providing taxpayers with various filing and payment deadline extensions, including an extension for HSA…


Stress Management Tips

Posted On: April 8, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Stress Management Tips Maintaining your mental and emotional health is essential, and it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself and embrace activities that will help bring you a sense of calm and well-being. Here’s some practical tips which will help: Sleep. Make sure you are getting enough rest each day. Go to bed at a regular time each night and aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep to help boost your mental well-being. Eat healthy. It’s easy to grab a snack or two more frequently when you’re working in your own home and the kitchen is just steps away. Though it’s difficult to go out to the supermarket as often as you did before, keep fresh fruits and vegetables handy. Prep them early in the week and set up snack-size portions that you can grab whenever you are feeling the need to snack. Exercise. Get up…


CARES Act: Impact on Employee Benefits

Posted On: April 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

CARES Act: Impact on Employee Benefits On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed, an unprecedented 2 trillion-dollar stimulus and relief package into law, named the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act. This act provides direct stimulus relief to corporations and individuals. While there are many facets to this act, this brief serves to highlight the changes to employee benefits due to the CARES Act. Expanded COVID-19 Testing The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) required group health plans and insurers to provide coverage of certain diagnostic COVID-19 testing and related services without cost-sharing and without preauthorization. The CARES Act expands on these provisions: All testing for COVID-19 must be covered without cost-sharing for fully insured and self-funded plans. In addition to tests approved by the FDA, this includes tests for which: the developer has requested, or intends to request, an emergency use…


COVID-19 Employer Considerations Regarding Employment Decisions and Plan Coverage Changes

Posted On: April 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits, HR Consulting

Due to the recent national health crisis in our country, many employers are considering the best way to handle a temporary economic turndown to best position themselves for recovery once the pandemic ceases and businesses can begin to return to some sense of normalcy. In addition, many employers are also navigating the benefit coverage changes being made by their insurance carrier(s) or by state and/or federal mandates which may include cost considerations, plan document revisions and employee notifications. Below are some explanations regarding various workplace employment options and health plan considerations. Employer/Employee Relationship One of the decisions employers are faced with is how to handle their workforce. Employers and insurance companies are using many terms to describe employer/employee relationships such as reduction in hours. furlough, temporary layoff, and permanent layoff. Many employers desire to keep employee benefits intact during this period. It is important to understand the differences and how…


CARES Act: Impact on your Retirement Plans

Posted On: April 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Retirement Plans

CARES Act: Impact on your Retirement Plans The CARES Act is the stimulus package the government recently enacted to support the country and economy during and after the coronavirus pandemic. The 880-page Act has many programs and features that affect a wide range of the economy. The points below are some of the highlights and potentially overlooked aspects of how the Act deals with retirement plans. One item to note at the beginning, is that adding these programs or features will require a plan amendment. The deadline for creating this amendment is not until 2022 as the government does not want paperwork slowing down these changes. For more information on all aspects of the CARES Act or any bills we are watching, please consult Innovative Benefit Planning. This is an evolving situation that we will continue to closing monitoring and keep you updated as events happen. Coronavirus Related Distribution (CRD)…


CARES Act: Loans & Tax Credit Provisions

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

CARES Act: Loans & Tax Credit Provisions On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed, an unprecedented 2 trillion-dollar stimulus and relief package into law, named the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act. This act provides direct stimulus relief to corporations and individuals. A large piece of this Act is its loan provisions (which in some cases are forgivable) and tax credit provisions. Below are the details of these provisions: Paycheck Protection Program Overview The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorizes up to $349 Billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone under this program. What is Available? Small Businesses are eligible for forgivable loans up to the lesser of 10 million dollars or 2.5 times the average total monthly payroll costs incurred in the one-year period prior…


Student Loan Relief Due to COVID-19

Posted On: April 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Retirement Plans

Overview On March 13, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would waive interest charges, allow for suspended payments and provide assistance to borrowers of defaulted loans for 6 months. All information can be found at StudentAid.gov. Who Is Affected? All borrowers who have an outstanding federal student loan, including defaulted and non-defaulted Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans and defaulted and non-defaulted Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) owned by the U.S. Department of Education can receive relief. What Type of Relief is Available? Interest Waiver All interest charges on loans are automatically waived starting on March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020 (relief period). The U.S. Department of Education could extend this period depending on the status of the COVID-19 national emergency. Administrative Forbearance Monthly payments on all applicable loans will be automatically suspended from March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020. Any automatic payments processed in the…


Telemedicine Wait Times

Posted On: April 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

In light of the recent COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. The CDC recommends leveraging telemedicine for your unique medical needs to help limit the spread of the virus by eliminating the risk of exposure to the ER, urgent care, and primary care offices. They are recommending members schedule their virtual visits rather than remain in the virtual waiting room for an unknown period of time. For more information, download PDF here.  Please contact the Innovative Benefit Planning team if you have any further questions.


Market Performance: Tips for Addressing Employee Concerns and Prudent Plan Management

Posted On: March 31, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and recent market volatility have undoubtedly presented you with new challenges as you care for your employees, families and community. We encourage you to lean on Innovative Investment Fiduciaries as a source for stability during these times. Below is our recent plan sponsor brief with some best practices for addressing the current market situation. This piece includes information on how to handle employee concerns and plan provisions to consider for review. Download PDF here To review your options, feel free to contact Innovative Investment Fiduciaries. We have extensive experience guiding plan sponsors through these decisions. As a CEFEX certified advisor, our fiduciary processes have been vetted and confirmed as following the best industry practices.


CARES Act Provisions

Posted On: March 27, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed, an unprecedented 2 trillion dollar stimulus and relief package into law. The law’s nearly 900 pages provide relief for specific industries, including hospitals, airlines, and railroads, as well as cash payments to individuals of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. The bill also contains a number of provisions of direct interest to employers. Small Employers Small businesses (including all businesses under 500 employees and other businesses as defined in section 3 of the Small Business Act and implementing regulations) can qualify for up to $10 million in forgivable loans to be used to cover: Payroll costs (including payments made to independent contractors) during the coronavirus crisis (if employers maintain pre-crisis levels of payroll); Group health benefits, including group health premiums Mortgage interest payments or rent payments Utilities Interest on qualifying debt obligations incurred before the covered period…


DOL Issues Families First Coronavirus Response Act Model Notice

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

DOL Issues Families First Coronavirus Response Act Model Notice As required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Department of Labor has issued a model notice to be posted by employers. The notice is attached here, and should be posted or distributed to employees in its entirety. To assist employers in complying with their posting obligations, the Department of Labor has issued the following FAQs regarding the posting requirement: Where do I post this notice? Since most of my workforce is teleworking, where do I electronically “post” this notice? Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website. Do I have to post this notice in other languages…


COVID-19: Leave Donation Program

Posted On: March 19, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, HR Consulting

Leave donation programs have been considered and implemented by employers for years to allow employees to donate accrued paid time (PTO), vacation or sick leave to a general pool. The time available in this pool serves to be used by fellow employees who have medical emergencies or who are affected by major disasters and have exhausted all paid leave available to them. These programs can provide good-will for employees while serving to fill a need due to unfortunate circumstances. With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, many employers are considering a Leave Donation Program to lessen the burden of limited Paid Time Off (PTO) available to employees who become ill and to increase camaraderie amongst their employees in the time of a crisis. The rules surrounding a program like this are onerous and can have major tax and compliance implications if not implemented correctly. Here is a summary of rules…


Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Posted On: March 19, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. While largely the same as the House bill passed on March 13, the final version of the legislation differs in several material respects from the original legislation, including permitting exemptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees, and providing some limits on the expansion of paid FMLA benefits. In its final form, the act goes into effect starting 4/1/20 and applies to leave taken between 4/1/20 and 12/31/20. See all provisions here. Please contact us with any questions.


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