The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to the compensation and contribution limits affecting individual retirement account, qualified defined benefit plan, qualified 401(k) and other defined contribution and defined benefit plan contributions under the Internal Revenue Code (Code) for 2015. Meanwhile, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) also released updated guaranteed benefit amounts that will apply under the pension benefit guarantee programs it administers for 2015.
Code COLAs for 2015
The 2015 COLA limits under the Code among other things determine what individuals are considered highly compensated and key employees for purposes of the Code’s rules for qualified retirement plans, health plans, cafeteria plans, and certain other employee benefit plans, the amounts that employers and employee can contribute on a tax preferred basis a qualified retirement plan, and various other issues relating to the tax treatment of employee benefit plans. The 2015 COLA amounts under the Code compared to those for 2014 and 2013 are as follows:
|IRA Contribution Limit||$5,500||$5,500||$5,500|
|IRA Catch-Up Contributions||1,000||1,000||1,000|
IRA AGI Deduction Phase-out Starting at
|Single or Head of Household||61,000||60,000||59,000|
|SEP Minimum Compensation||600||550||550|
|SEP Maximum Contribution||53,000||52,000||51,000|
|SEP Maximum Compensation||265,000||260,000||255,000|
|SIMPLE Maximum Contributions||12,500||12,000||12,000|
401(k), 403(b), Profit-Sharing Plans, etc.
|Defined Contribution Limits||53,000||52,000||51,000|
|Defined Benefit Limits||210,000||210,000||205,000|
|457 Elective Deferrals||18,000||17,500||17,500|
|Control Employee (board member or officer)||105,000||105,000||100,000|
|Control Employee (compensation-based)||215,000||210,000||205,000|
|Taxable Wage Base||118,500||117,000||113,700|
Employer and other employee benefit plan sponsors, fiduciaries and administrators should update their plan documentation, enrollment and other communications, protocols for identifying and managing contributions for highly compensated and key employees, contribution and discrimination testing and other related programs and practices as well as notify employees and encourage them to take into account these adjusted limitations when making their upcoming benefit enrollment choices for the upcoming year.
2015 PBGC Maximum Insurance Benefit Level
The PBGC also updated its limits for 2015 today. It employer plan has increased to $60,136 for 2015, up from $59,318 for 2014. The increase is not retroactive. Payments to retirees whose plans terminated before 2015 will not change. The guarantee for multiemployer plans has not changed.
Single-Employer Plan Guarantee The PBGC maximum guarantee for participants in single-employer plans is determined using a formula prescribed by federal law that calls for annual increases. The formula provides lower amounts for people who begin getting benefits from PBGC before age 65, reflecting the fact that they will receive more monthly pension checks over their expected lifetime. Conversely, amounts are higher for benefits starting at ages above 65. The formula also calls for reducing the amount for retirees who choose a payment form that continues benefits to a beneficiary after the retiree’s death. The following table shows the maximum annual guarantee limits for 2015 for sample ages and payment forms. Amounts for other ages are posted on the Maximum Monthly Guarantees table on PBGC’s website.
|Age||Annual Maximum Single Life Annuity||Annual Maximum Joint & 50% Survivor Annuity*|
|*Assumes both spouses are the same age. Different amounts apply if that is not the case|
The limits shown above generally apply for participants whose plan terminates in 2015. However, if a plan terminates in 2015 as a result of a bankruptcy that began in an earlier year, the limits in effect for that earlier year apply. In most cases, the single-employer PBGC guarantee is larger than the pension earned by people in such plans. In fact, according to a 2006 study, almost 85% of retirees receiving PBGC benefits at that time received the full amount of their earned benefit.(For more information, see the entry “Making Sense of the Maximum Insurance Benefit” in PBGC blog, Retirement Matters.) The limits shown above represent the cap on what PBGC guarantees, not on what PBGC pays. In some cases, PBGC pays benefits above the guaranteed amount. Whether that happens depends on the retiree’s age and how much money was in the plan when it terminated. For more information about how the single-employer guarantee works, see Pension Guarantees on PBGC.gov.
Multiemployer Plan Guarantee Limit The PBGC maximum guarantee for participants in multiemployer plans is also based on a formula prescribed by federal law. Unlike the single-employer formula, the multiemployer guarantee is not indexed (i.e., it remains the same from year to year) and does not vary based on the retiree’s age or payment form. Unlike the single-employer formula, it varies based on the retiree’s length of service. In addition, the multiemployer guarantee structure has two tiers, providing 100% coverage up to a certain level and 75% coverage above that level. For a retiree with 30 years of service, the current annual limit is 100% of the first $3,960 and 75% of the next $11,760 for a total guarantee of $12,870. This limit has been in place since 2001.
About Author Cynthia Marcotte Stamer
If you need help reviewing or updating your health benefit program for compliance or with any other employment, employee benefit, compensation or internal controls matter, please contact the author of this article, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.
A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefits Council, immediate past-Chair and current Welfare Benefit Committee Co-Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPPT Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Arrangements, an ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Council Representative, the ABA TIPS Employee Benefit Plan Committee Vice Chair, former ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group Chair, past Southwest Benefits Association Board Member, Employee Benefit News Editorial Advisory Board Member, and a widely published speaker and author, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising businesses, plans, fiduciaries, insurers. plan administrators and other services providers, and governments on health care, retirement, employment, insurance, and tax program design, administration, defense and policy. Nationally and internationally known for her creative and highly pragmatic knowledge and work on health benefit and insurance programs, Ms. Stamer’s experience includes extensive involvement in advising and representing these and other clients on ACA and other health care legislation, regulation, enforcement and administration.
Widely published on health benefit and other related matters, Ms. Stamer’s insights and articles have been published by the HealthLeaders, Modern Health Care, Managed Care Executive, the Bureau of National Affairs, Aspen Publishers, Business Insurance, Employee Benefit News, the Wall Street Journal, the American Bar Association, Aspen Publishers, World At Work, Spencer Publications, SHRM, the International Foundation, Solutions Law Press and many others.
For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience, see www.CynthiaStamer.com.
About Project COPE: The Coalition On Patient Empowerment & Its Coalition on Responsible Health Policy
Sharing and promoting the use of practical practices, tools, information and ideas that patients and their families, health care providers, employers, health plans, communities and policymakers can share and offer to help patients, their families and others in their care communities to understand and work together to better help the patients, their family and their professional and private care community plan for and manage these needs is the purpose of Project COPE.
The best opportunity to improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is for every American, and every employer, insurer, and community organization to seize the opportunity to be good Samaritans. The government, health care providers, insurers and community organizations can help by providing education and resources to make understanding and dealing with the realities of illness, disability or aging easier for a patient and their family, the affected employers and others. At the end of the day, however, caring for people requires the human touch. Americans can best improve health care by not waiting for someone else to step up: Speak up, step up and help bridge the gap when you or your organization can do so by extending yourself a little bit. Speak up to help communicate and facilitate when you can. Building health care neighborhoods filled with good neighbors throughout the community is the key.
The outcome of this latest health care reform push is only a small part of a continuing process. Whether or not the Affordable Care Act makes financing care better or worse, the same challenges exist. The real meaning of the enacted reforms will be determined largely by the shaping and implementation of regulations and enforcement actions which generally are conducted outside the public eye. Americans individually and collectively clearly should monitor and continue to provide input through this critical time to help shape constructive rather than obstructive policy. Regardless of how the policy ultimately evolves, however, Americans, American businesses, and American communities still will need to roll up their sleeves and work to deal with the realities of dealing with ill, aging and disabled people and their families. While the reimbursement and coverage map will change and new government mandates will confine providers, payers and patients, the practical needs and challenges of patients and families will be the same and confusion about the new configuration will create new challenges as patients, providers and payers work through the changes.
For Added Information and Other Resources
If you found this update of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the other updates and publications authored by Ms. Stamer available including:
- New EEOC Lawsuit Challenges Orion Energy Systems Employee Benefit Program Under ADA
- Shell Oil/Motiva Enterprises $4.5M FLSA Overtime Backpay Settlement Reminder To Pay Workers Properly
- OFCCP Proposes Compensation Transparency Mandates For Government Contractors
- Labor Department Adds State Unemployment Insurance To War Against Worker Misclassification
- EBSA Invites Input By November 19 On Need for More Regulation Of Investment Windows
- HHS Warns Insurers, TPAS Complete ACA Reinsurance & Risk Adjustment Edge Server Pre-Registration Steps By 9/27
- House Hearings Consider Authorizing House Lawsuit Challenging Consitutionality of Obama’s Health Care Reform Actions
- Review & Update HR & Benefit Practices For DOL Proposed Change In FMLA Regs, Other Rules Treating Some Same-Sex Couples As Spouses
- Employee & Other Whistleblower Complaints Common Source of HIPAA Privacy & Other Complaints
- Consider Fiduciary & Other Risk Management When Planning For ACA Transitional Reinsurance Costs, Other Plan Design Changes
- HHS Claims Average $69/Month Cost for Subsidized Coverage Shows ACA Success Challenged
- HIPAA Compliance & Breach Data Shares Helpful Lessons For Health Plans, Providers and Business Associates
- Review & Update Health Plan Notices, Language & Process For New Guidance On COBRA, Other Key Health Plan Rules
- EEOC Suit Against Pipe Fitting Business Shows Disability Discrimination Risks For Employers Hiring Vets With PTSD
- Businesses Face Rising Disability Discrimination Enforcement Risks
- EEOC Finalizes Updates To Disability Regulations In Response to ADA Amendments Act: Employers Should Manage Risks
- NLRB Settlement Shows Care Necessary When Employers Use Social Networking & Other Policies Restricting Employee Communications
- Wage & Hour Law Settlements Highlight Rising Wage & Hour Risks of U.S. Employers
- OCR Requires Rhode Island DHS To Provide Translation, Other Services For Limited English, Other Language Impaired Accommodations
For Help Or More Information
If you need assistance in auditing or assessing, updating or defending your organization’s compliance, risk manage or other internal controls practices or actions, please contact the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.
Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, management attorney and consultant Ms. Stamer is nationally and internationally recognized for more than 24 years of work helping employers and other management; employee benefit plans and their sponsors, administrators, fiduciaries; employee leasing, recruiting, staffing and other professional employment organizations; and others design, administer and defend innovative workforce, compensation, employee benefit and management policies and practices. Her experience includes extensive work helping employers implement, audit, manage and defend union-management relations, wage and hour, discrimination and other labor and employment laws, privacy and data security, internal investigation and discipline and other workforce and internal controls policies, procedures and actions. The Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Committee, a Council Representative on the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Government Affairs Committee Legislative Chair for the Dallas Human Resources Management Association, and past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Ms. Stamer works, publishes and speaks extensively on management, reengineering, investigations, human resources and workforce, employee benefits, compensation, internal controls and risk management, federal sentencing guideline and other enforcement resolution actions, and related matters. She also is recognized for her publications, industry leadership, workshops and presentations on these and other human resources concerns and regularly speaks and conducts training on these matters.Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see hereor contact Ms. Stamer directly.
About Solutions Law Press
Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources at www.solutionslawpress.com.
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©2014 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press. All other rights reserved.