The end of the year is when people make lists and check them twice. However, for managers of a company’s benefit plans, those are not shopping lists. To help you get through a busy time of year, here is a list of some things you want to do to keep your benefit plans running smoothly.

Retirement Plans

  • Provide your annual participant notices by December 31 (for calendar year plans): traditional safe harbor, Qualified Automatic Contribution Arrangement (QACA), Eligible Automatic Contribution Arrangement (EACA), non-safe harbor automatic contribution arrangement and Qualified Default Investment Alternative plan notices.

  • Distribute summary annual reports (SAR) to participants by December 15 if your 2015 form 5500 was filed on October 17 (the extended due date). SARs must be distributed within two months of filing.

  • Make required minimum distributions and corrective distributions (for failed ADP or ACP tests) from your qualified plans by December 31.

  • Sign any amendments making changes to the plan effective in 2016. Update your SPD or issue an SMM to reflect the change. If you are adding a safe harbor, QACA or EACA feature to the plan for the 2017 plan year, the company must adopt that amendment by December 31.

    Health and Welfare Plans

  • Comply with federal non-discrimination statutes. HHS requires plans of employers that receive assistance from or contract with the federal government to cover gender dysphoria and transition benefits and provide same-gender spouses or domestic partners with the identical benefits that opposite-gender spouses or partners have.

  • Determine if your company is an applicable large employer subject to the “pay or play” health insurance mandate; if it is, determine if you are offering qualified coverage to at least 95% of your full-time employees.

  • Determine if your health plan coverage is “affordable;” the percentage of pay threshold increases to 9.69% in 2017. Remember that HRA, flex plan and most opt-out payments are all included in the affordability determination.

  • Breathe easier about your form 1094 and 1095 reporting. Although the deadline was earlier for the 2016 forms (January 31, 2017 for participants; February 28 or March 31 for the IRS, depending on paper or electronic filing), the IRS just announced an extension until March 2 for participants. However, the IRS reporting deadline was NOT extended, and remains February 28 or March 31.

  • Get a business associate agreement (BAA) with your cloud service provider (CSP). HHS updated its guidance to classify cloud-based service providers as business associates, even if the data they handle is encrypted. If your business associates subcontract with a CSP, make sure your BAA with your associate requires them to have a BAA with the CSP.

  • Think about your wellness plan and how it complies with the ADA, GINA and the several other laws that apply. We summarized some of these issues in our article in the latest Utah Business magazine: signs-make-sure-work-wellness-program-healthy/.

  • Provide the annual notices applicable to your health and welfare plans: an updated CHIP notice, WHCRA notice, Medicare Part D, HIPAA privacy notice (every three years), the ADA wellness notice and the HHS non-discrimination notice.

    For more information contact John D. Walch at (801) 415-3000, or