Need to Know: October 1 and Obamacare

Robin Weingast and her team will keep you compliant with the Obamacare regulations.
The Affordable Care Act’s “healthcare marketplace” officially opens for business on October 1. Small companies with less than 50 employees will not need to offer insurance, while any company with more than 50 employees will have a one-year grace period from any penalties if they fail to offer insurance. ‘
One thing is absolutely required by October 1: companies must inform their employees about the healthcare exchange available as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

What is the healthcare exchange?


On the new healthcare exchange websites, individuals and small companies can select and purchase health plans.
Most companies are not prepared to inform their employees about these websites, and could face potential fines of up to $100 per worker per day.

Online Resources

The U.S. Department of Labor’s website has guidelines on what is required under the Affordable Care Act. In addition, they have resources for companies that currently offer insurance and those that currently do not.
These resources can be used or modified to serve as compliant notification to employees.

Want to make sure you’re prepared?

The Affordable Care Act will impact business owners across the nation. The Robin Weingast team is ready to assist you and to make sure your healthcare plan is compliant, up-to-date, and still a powerful tool for attracting the most talented staff. Contact us today and we can help you navigate Obamacare.

Need To Know: DOMA and retirement plan benefits

Robin Weingast DOMA

The Supreme Court declares DOMA unconstitutional

In June, the Supreme Court’s decision on Windsor v. United States found the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Under DOMA, a federally recognized spouse could only be of the opposite sex. The federal government did not recognize state-based legal, same-sex marriages. As such, same-sex spouses were not recognized for such laws as 1974’s Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code. With the decision on Windsor, the federal government has expanded the definition of “spouse” to include state-recognized same-sex spouses.

Background on Windsor v. United States

When Edith Windsor’s same-sex spouse Thea Spyer died, Ms. Windsor paid more than $363,000 in federal estate tax as a result of inheriting Ms. Spyer’s estate. Ms. Windsor and Ms. Spyer were legally married in their state of residence, New York. If Ms. Windsor had been in an opposite-sex marriage, she would not have paid federal estate taxes. Ms. Windsor subsequently sued the United States on the basis of being unconstitutionally discriminated against based on her sexual orientation. Her case won at both the District and Appeal Court levels, and ultimately at the Supreme Court level, leading to the declaration that DOMA unconstitutionally prohibits a state’s right to legislate marriage.

What does this mean?

If you provide a benefit plan to your employees, you will need to:
• Assess your retirement plan to ensure that it provides federally protected rights and benefits to both same- and opposite-sex marriages.
• Evaluate your plan documents to ensure they are adequately addressing both same-sex and opposite-sex married couples
• Review your payroll system, tax reporting, and compliance practices

This decision may also impact the administration of:
• Qualified Joint and Survivor Annuities
• Qualified Pre-Retirement Survivor Annuities
• Default beneficiary designations
• Eligible rollover distributions
Minimum required distributions
• Distributions of account balances to a beneficiary from a defined contribution plan
• Hardship withdrawals and loans
• Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

There are still several outstanding issues in light of this decision, including dates to which the ruling applies, and what will happen in states that allow civil unions/domestic partnerships but not same-sex marriages. The expectation is that federal agencies will provide regulatory guidance on these matters.

Robin Weingast can help

Our team specializes in staying current on changing regulations and on evaluating and analyzing employee benefit plans to make sure they are compliant. If you have questions about your plan and whether or not it is compliant in light of the Supreme Court’s decision, contact us today.