The IRS has recently announced the various qualified plan related limits for 2011. The most widely used limits have not changed from their 2010 amounts and are summarized below.

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QUALIFIED PLAN YEAR-END REMINDERS

There is an ever growing list of annual notices that must be distributed in connection with the routine operation of qualified plans. Some of the items include the following:

  • Employers using a “safe harbor” 401(k) plan design with a calendar year plan year will need to distribute the 2011 safe harbor notice by the end of November;
  • Employers using the provision that allows a participant’s first automatic contributions to be withdrawn within 90 days must provide an annual notice apprising employees of their rights and obligations within a period of at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the year, again by the end of November in the case of a calendar year plan; and
  • Employers taking advantage of a qualified default investment alternative (“QDIA”) arrangement must provide participants with information about the arrangement at least 30 days prior to the start of each plan year (the end of November in the case of a calendar year plan).

MEDICARE PART D NOTICE REMINDER

Employers sponsoring group health plans that include prescription drug coverage are reminded of an obligation to issue a Notice of Creditable Coverage relating to that coverage before November 15, 2010. (The Notice must be provided annually prior to November 15 and at other times, such as upon enrollment.) The Notice provides information for Medicare eligible individuals and is designed to help them understand their employer-based prescription drug coverage as they evaluate their options under the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. A sample Notice is available on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) website.

In addition, employers must also inform CMS about the prescription drug coverage provided. This is an annual disclosure obligation, generally made within 60 days of the beginning of the plan year and at various other times, such as after a change in creditable coverage status. The disclosure to CMS can only be submitted electronically via the CMS website.

An ever growing list of welfare benefit plan notices must also be provided (on an annual or other periodic basis). For the most part, we would expect insurers and third-party administrators to assist employers in meeting these obligations.