Ruth Anne Collins Michels

Shareholder || Atlanta

Ms. Michels practices exclusively in the area of employee benefits law. She represents clients in the areas of qualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, fiduciary compliance best practices, nonqualified deferred compensation plans, ERISA compliance, COBRA administration, HIPAA privacy regulations, and compliance with other federal laws relating to employee benefits matters, including the Affordable Care Act.

Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Ms. Michels worked at Air Quality Sciences, Inc. in employee benefits and as a manager of their reporting department and quality system. She served as the documentation coordinator and internal auditor trainer with respect to AQS’s ISO9002 certification. This real-world experience has been invaluable in understanding clients’ need for legally-compliant yet practical solutions to issues with retirement and health/welfare plan design and interpretation.

Ms. Michels regularly speaks on employee benefits topics, including new guidance regarding wellness programs, the Affordable Care Act, and fiduciary best practices.

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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.

Representative engagements:

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.

Representative engagements:


Admittance to Practice

Professional Activities

  • Atlanta Bar Association
  • State Bar of Georgia
  • Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB) (Secretary of Atlanta Chapter, 2005-2006)
  • Women in Pensions


Insights by Ruth Anne Collins Michels