Ms. Michels’ practice focuses on assisting clients in ensuring their retirement and health/welfare plans remain compliant with the myriad tax laws and new health care reform requirements.
Ms. Michels’ experience includes, but is not limited to:
Retirement Plans – Qualified and Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans
Ms. Michels provides guidance regarding the corrections of errors in retirement plan administration through submissions under the IRS correction program for tax-qualified retirement plans. These submissions have included corrections relating to failed discrimination tests, failures to timely amend retirement plans for changes in the law, and conforming plan terms to plan operations.
Ms. Michels routinely advises employer on matters concerning the design, implementation, and operation of 401(k), 403(b), defined benefit pension plans, and executive deferred compensation plans. Her representation includes plan document and amendment drafting, self-correction advice, working with employers to correct significant plan failures including submissions to the IRS under the Voluntary Compliance Program, IRS determination letter filings, submissions to correct delinquent Form 5500 filings through the DOL Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program, and, advising clients on fiduciary best practices in relation to their retirement plans.
- Worked with an employer to correct various failures under its 401(k) plan (including a failure to offer the plan to new employees, failure to properly administer the plan’s entry date rules) reaching back over 10 years (to the date the plan was initially put into place), including calculations of corrective contributions to be made to the plan, and drafting amendments to bring the plan into compliance not only with applicable laws but also to conform the terms of the plan to the operations of the plan.
- Guided an employer in establishing its employee benefits committee, including advising on fiduciary best practices and assisting in the drafting of the committee’s governing charter.
- Advised an employer regarding the correction of non-discrimination testing failures under its 401(k) plan that reached back over ten years and obtained IRS approval of the corrections through a submission under the IRS’ Voluntary Correction Program.
- Assisted an employer in offering a lump sum window opportunity under its defined benefit plans, including drafting plan amendments and participant communications.
Health and Welfare Plans
Ms. Michels regularly works with employers in resolving issues related to their health and welfare benefits plans. Her experience includes advising employers on cafeteria plans under Code Section 125 (including issues related to participant elections and handling leaves of absence), drafting flexible spending account plans, compliance with COBRA (including failures to timely provide COBRA election notices), and providing advice on compliance with the ever-changing regulatory guidance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Ruth also has assisted numerous clients with compliance with the HIPAA privacy regulations — including the new requirements related to data breaches -- and has a recognized expertise in the application of this complex area of the law to employers and health plans.
- Guided an employer through the move from a fully-insured health plan to a self-insured health plan, including the establishment of a Voluntary Employee Benefits Association (or “VEBA”).
- Assisted an employer in preparing and filing delinquent Forms 5500 for its health and welfare plans – reaching back six years.
- Worked with an employer to correct COBRA failures related to its on-site clinic.