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EMPLOYEE BENEFIT LAW (ERISA) (LAW4 618), Mr. T.R. White, Credits: 3

Federal Income Tax I is recommended.

A substantial portion of compensation in employment is provided in the form of
benefits (medical benefits in particular) and deferred compensation (pensions and
savings). This aspect of the employment relationship has grown significantly more
important as medical costs rise and the population ages, so that government policy
toward the protection and regulation of this aspect of employee compensation has
become a critical area of inquiry. In addition, private and governmental pension plans
now own nearly 8 trillion dollars and represent a major part of the U.S. economy.

This course will examine the regulatory policies and statutory rules which govern
employee pensions and welfare benefits, now covered by a comprehensive statute,
ERISA, and correlative tax provisions. Because the engine which drives the private
pension system is found in the favorable tax provisions, substantial attention will be
paid to the federal tax rules which apply to accumulations in private (and
governmental) plans, including various types of tax favored savings accounts,
contributions and payment of benefits. The course is not predominantly a tax course,
however, and emphasis will be placed on the labor provisions of ERISA in relation
to the growing amount of litigation involving employee benefits. The Social Security
system will be examined for comparative purposes, and proposals to "privatize"
Social Security by requiring contributions to individual savings accounts will be
analyzed. The recent trend toward the use of certain defined contribution plans
(401(k) plans or CODAs) and pension simplification and retirement plan design for
current issues in funding retirement benefits will be discussed. Subjects covered in
the course include protection of employee rights to benefits; tax restrictions on
qualification of pension plans, amounts which may be contributed to such plans, and
distributions to participants and their beneficiaries; preemption of other federal or
state law; spousal and the interests of third parties, particularly spouses, in funded
pensions; fiduciary rules; and judicial review of the scope of fiduciary
decision-making.

Materials include Langbein & Wolk, Pension and Employee Benefit Law, 2d edition
(Foundation Press), statutory and regulatory prints, and extensive xeroxed
supplements. There will be an examination.


Copyright 2001 by J. H. Verkerke.
For problems or questions contact [Rip Verkerke].
Last updated:  Tuesday, January 11, 2005