May 1, 2010

Legislation 1980–2004 | ERISA

During the years since ERISA, there have been a series of legislative measures with common themes enacted into law. The laws include the:

§  Add a Note HereEconomic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA).
§  Add a Note HereTax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA).
§  Add a Note HereRetirement Equity Act of 1984 (REA).
§  Add a Note HereDeficit Reduction Act of 1984 (DEFRA).
§  Add a Note HereConsolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA).
§  Add a Note HereTax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA '86).
§  Add a Note HereOmnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA '87).
§  Add a Note HereOmnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 (OBRA '89).
§  Add a Note HereBudget Act of 1990.
§  Add a Note HereOmnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA '93).
§  Add a Note HereFamily and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).
§  Add a Note HereUniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1993 (USERRA).
§  Add a Note HerePension Annuitants Protection Act of 1993.
§  Add a Note HereUruguay Round Agreements Act (Retirement Protection Act) of 1994.
§  Add a Note HereBankruptcy Reform Act of 1994.
§  Add a Note HereDeduction for Health Insurance Costs of Self-Employed Individuals (1995).
§  Add a Note HereSmall Business Job Protection Act of 1996 (SBJA).
§  Add a Note HereHealth Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
§  Add a Note HereTaxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (TRA '97).
§  Add a Note HereSavings Are Vital to Everyone's Retirement Act of 1997.
§  Add a Note HereTransportation Equity Act for the 21st Century of 1998.
§  Add a Note HereOmnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1998.
§  Add a Note HereTicket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999.
§  Add a Note HereMedicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999.
§  Add a Note HereMental Health Parity Act of 2001 (MHPA).
§  Add a Note HereEconomic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA).
§  Add a Note HereSarbanes Oxley Act of 2002.
§  Add a Note HereEconomic Security and Worker Assistance Act of 2002.
§  Add a Note HereJobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.
§  Add a Note HereMedicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.
Add a Note HereCOBRA established rules to ensure that individuals and their dependents would have access to continued group health insurance upon job termination and certain other qualifying events, and Congress can be expected to expand this concept to one of assured access for all Americans.
Add a Note HereOBRA '87 significantly tightened funding standards for defined benefit plans, further restricted plan terminations, and moved the PBGC to a much higher and variable premium. Legislation consistent with these themes will continue to be considered and enacted, with emphasis on the larger theme that employers should be responsible for keeping promises once made regardless of the financial implications for the business.
Add a Note HereIn 1989, Congress again consolidated employee benefits changes into the budget, restricting tax incentives for employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), reforming the method of physician payment in the Medicare program, expanding COBRA protections, and repealing the 1988 Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act and Section 89 (nondiscrimination tests for welfare plans) of TRA '86.
Add a Note HereThe year 1990 saw the enactment of childcare legislation, expansion of Medicaid, further restrictions on asset reversions, allowance for some pension asset transfers for retiree medical expenses, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) amendments to expand protections in early retirement programs, and passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Add a Note HereIn 1991, Congress limited the employee deduction of employer-provided parking benefits, increased the tax-exempt employer-provided transit benefit, passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, eliminated pass-through coverage for benefit responsive bank investment contracts (BICs), and limited federal deposit insurance.
Add a Note HereIn 1992, Congress imposed a 20 percent withholding tax on lump-sum distributions that are not rolled over into qualified retirement accounts and required pension plan sponsors to transfer eligible distributions directly to an eligible plan at the participant's request.
Add a Note HereCongress modified ERISA in 1993 as it relates to group health plan coverage of pediatric vaccines, compliance with medical child-support orders, and coverage of adoptive children as dependents. In addition, Congress reduced the compensation limit for qualified pension plans and placed a cap on the deduction of executive compensation not tied to performance. The legislation also included a veterans' rights bill guaranteeing veterans' rights to pension benefits that would have accrued during military service and clarifying the right for military personnel to continue receiving employer-sponsored health insurance for up to 18 months if they are absent due to military service. Finally, it provided, through the Family and Medical Leave Act, that firms with more than 50 workers provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave with continued health coverage to employees for the birth or adoption of a child or for serious illness of the employee or the employee's child, parent, or spouse.
Add a Note HereIn 1994, Congress passed a trade bill that included pension provisions that required greater contributions to underfunded plans, limited the range of interest rate and mortality assumptions used to establish funding targets, phased out the variable rate premium cap, modified certain rules relating to participant protection, and required private companies with underfunded pension plans to notify the PBGC before engaging in large corporate transactions. The law also slowed pension cost-of-living adjustments and extended a provision to allow excess pension assets in certain pension plans to be transferred into a retiree health benefits account. Congress also passed legislation to give the PBGC and state and local government pension plans seats on creditors' committees in corporate bankruptcies. The Social Security Administration also became an independent federal agency in 1995, with the passage of Social Security Administration Reform legislation in 1994.
Add a Note HereIn 1995, Congress made no permanent legislative changes for benefits. However, in 1996, Congress made changes to COBRA, established a tax exclusion for adoption assistance, and repealed the $5,000 death benefit exclusion. Congress also simplified many pension rules, restricted the ability of states to tax nonresidents' pension incomes earned while working in another state, added length-of-stay requirements for health plans, added mental health parity provisions, established new requirements for health plans and insurers and HMOs (including limiting preexisting-condition exclusions), established limited medical savings accounts, and provided favorable tax treatment for long-term care insurance.
Add a Note HereIn 1997, Congress was very active. TRA '97 included numerous simplification provisions while increasing the full funding limit, repealing the 15 percent tax on excess distributions, expanded deductible individual retirement accounts (IRAs), created non-deductible "Roth" IRAs, enacted the SAVER Act which led to the 1998 National Summit on Retirement Savings, and enacted a budget that included many Medicare and health coverage expansion provisions.
Add a Note HereIn 1998, Congress added new tax incentives for transportation benefits, restructured the IRS, and enacted a number of mandatory coverage provisions for health plans.
Add a Note HereIn 1999 and 2000, Congress enacted changes for Medicare and Medicaid, but passed no ERISA benefits provisions that were signed into law.
Add a Note HereIn 2001, Congress enacted Mental Health Parity Legislation and a major tax change program in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. EGTRRA allowed new types of plans, larger contributions to plans, and special catch-up contributions for those over the age of 50.
Add a Note HereIn 2002, Congress enacted the Economic Security and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 in response to the 2001 terrorism, containing provisions related to reserve military and employee benefit plans, and other provisions. Also, following accounting scandals, Congress enacted the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 which contains extensive provisions on corporate governance and plan fiduciary behavior.
Add a Note HereIn 2003, Congress enacted the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. The major expansion of Medicare included provisions intended to encourage employers to continue the provision of retiree medical benefits.


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