Attorneys in our Employee Benefits Practice provide a comprehensive array of counseling and advocacy services to assist clients in designing, establishing, maintaining, and operating a wide range of retirement, welfare, executive compensation, and fringe benefit plans. We represent a diverse group of clients, from public to private sector, and include for-profit, not-for-profit, closely held, and public entities. Hodgson Russ employee benefits attorneys have exceptional experience and depth in all aspects of ERISA. Hodgson Russ has been awarded a prestigious "Best Law Firms" Metropolitan Tier 1 ranking by Best Lawyers/U.S. News & World Report in the Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law category.

Our attorneys have substantial experience with tax-qualified retirement plans, supplemental retirement benefits and other non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements, stock-based compensation programs, and specialized compensation programs for executives.

We routinely advise clients regarding all aspects of welfare benefit plan design and compliance, including addressing complex issues related to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA).

Retirement Plans

Our attorneys assist with 401(k), 403(b), profit sharing, defined benefit, cash balance, employee stock option plans (ESOP), and stock bonus plans including drafting and reviewing plan and trust documents, and advising clients regarding compliance issues. We review and negotiate complex service agreements with plan professionals, including recordkeepers, trustees, investment advisors, investment managers, and consultants. We devote significant attention to the correction of qualification errors under the Internal Revenue Service's Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) and have successfully resolved defects in the design and operation of retirement plans through carefully crafted submissions and negotiations. In addition, we have substantial experience correcting late remittances of participant contributions and other prohibited transactions through the Department of Labor’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program, and avoiding penalties for untimely annual report Form 5500 filings through the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program.

  • Retirement Plans Tax Compliance
  • IRS and DOL Voluntary Correction Programs

Welfare and Fringe Benefit Plans

Hodgson Russ attorneys provide comprehensive legal counsel with respect to our clients’ welfare and fringe benefit plans, including group health and group insurance plans. Our attorneys help our clients to draft and maintain compliant welfare plan documents, plan descriptions, and negotiate the terms of complex service agreements with claims administrators and other welfare plan professionals. We are familiar with the new reporting and transparency requirements affecting group health plans under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Our employee benefits attorneys comprise the Affordable Care Act practice group and work with clients to achieve compliance and to assist those facing penalties related to information reporting or the employer mandate.

  • Group Health and Welfare Plan Compliance
  • Cafeteria Plans 
  • Consolidated Appropriations Act Reporting and Transparency
  • ACA Compliance and Penalty/Assessment Defense

Non-Qualified Plans & Executive Compensation Programs

We design and implement a variety of stock-based compensation programs for both publicly traded and privately held businesses, including the use of stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock, restricted stock units, and phantom equity. We develop other specialized compensation programs for executives and senior staff. In addition to deferred and stock-based compensation programs, our attorneys are experienced with the tax and other legal issues involved in employment, severance and change-in-control agreements (such as 409A and 280G golden parachute taxation), performance-based or incentive compensation arrangements, and compliance with the 162(m) deduction limit and 4960 compensation limits for executives of tax-exempt organizations.

  • Deferred Compensation Arrangements 
  • Stock-based Compensation Programs
  • 409A and 280G Golden Parachute Taxation
  • Severance and Change-In-Control Agreements

ERISA and Fiduciary Compliance

Our attorneys counsel retirement and welfare plan committees and other plan fiduciaries regarding plan governance, fiduciary processes, and have developed a proactive approach to addressing fiduciary compliance issues. In addition, we advise clients regarding developing and administering compliant claims procedures, and satisfying ERISA’s reporting and disclosure requirements.

  • Fiduciary Governance, Process and Compliance 
  • Claims Procedures
  • Reporting and Disclosure Requirements

Employee Benefits Disputes

Our employee benefits attorneys help clients respond to IRS or DOL examinations or audits related to their employee benefit plans. Our attorneys also handle benefits claims, claims for breach of fiduciary duty, and provide subject matter expertise in partnership with our experienced litigators should a conflict arise.

  • IRS and DOL Examinations and Audits
  • Benefits-related Litigation and Conflicts


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Employee Benefits / News & Insights