Retirement, Health and Disability

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore provides representation, advice, and counsel to employers on public employee retirement plans, health and welfare benefits, and issues related to employee disabilities, including disability retirement, the interactive process and reasonable accommodations.

Retirement

We advise agencies on public employee retirement plans, including the California Public Employees' Retirement System ("CalPERS"), the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 ("37 Act"), the California State Teachers' Retirement System ("CalSTRS"), and local agency retirement systems.  Our firm offers retirement system audits to review compliance with public retirement statutes, regulations, and charter provisions, and regularly provides advice and opinions on retirement system obligations, including enrollment, independent contractor status, retirement formulas, CalPERS optional contract benefits, disability retirement eligibility and procedures, reportable compensation, unfunded liabilities, elected official benefits and post-retirement work restriction compliance.  We also provide training and defend public agencies in administrative and court proceedings brought by employees, retirees, and public agencies and retirement boards. 

The major areas of this practice are:

  • Negotiating Retirement Provisions;
  • Reviewing collective bargaining agreements for compliance issues and offering solutions;
  • Restructuring retirement benefits, including retiree medical benefits;
  • Responding to and defending agencies during CalPERS or other retirement board audits;
  • Defending retirement grievances and litigation;
  • Reviewing benefits to determine whether they are vested; and
  • Representing agencies in making disability retirement determinations and defending the agency in disability retirement proceedings.

Retirement Litigation

We successfully represent public agencies in administrative proceedings and in court on all issues involving retirement benefits, including:

  • Vested rights;
  • Compensation earnable;
  • PEPRA;
  • Retiree Medical;
  • CalPERS and '37 Act Retirement Board Administrative hearings; and
  • Disability Retirement administrative hearings and litigation.

Health Benefits

The firm advises employers on all aspects of employee health and welfare benefits, including the complex and evolving Affordable Care Act ("ACA") [hyperlink to page].  We also advise employers on compliance with the Public Employees' Medical and Hospital Care Act ("PEMHCA"), health reimbursement accounts, health and welfare benefits for elected officials, vesting of retiree health benefits, and structuring and modifying benefits for retirees, current employees, and future employees in order to manage the cost of benefits.

Our firm is at the forefront of advising employers on their duties under the ACA and related health care laws.  The firm routinely advises clients on the following issues:

  • Exposure to potential penalties under the employer shared responsibility provisions;
  • Determination of applicable large employer status;
  • Adoption & Implementation of the Look Back Measurement Method Safe Harbor;
  • Determination of employee/independent contractor status;
  • Determination of affordability of plans;
  • Required notices and opt out;
  • Applicable Large Employer and Self-Insured Reporting Requirements;
  • Form W-2 Reporting Requirements;
  • Interaction of the ACA with PEMHCA;
  • The 2018 excise tax (aka the "Cadillac Tax");
  • Collective bargaining issues raised by the ACA, including labor negotiations and drafting of language;
  • Anti-retaliation provisions;
  • Non-discrimination under the ACA;
  • ACA impacts unique to educational organizations, including community college districts, school districts, and independent schools;
  • HIPAA and excepted benefits; and
  • COBRA.

LCW regularly provides comprehensive training on the ACA including individualized training to the management team on the safe harbors and new operations an employer needs to comply with the ACA. 

Disability

Our firm works with local agencies on every facet of the disability accommodation process, including identifying disabilities, requesting medical documentation and evaluation, ensuring leave rights of disabled employees, engaging in the interactive process, identifying possible reasonable accommodations, complying with applicable disability laws, and, when necessary, medical separations or disability retirements.  We have also defended clients in state and federal court from disability discrimination suits brought by employees.  Our firm also guides public agencies through the entire disability retirement application process from filing the application to representing agencies in administrative and court proceedings.

Retirement and Health Aspects of Labor Relations

Retirement and employee health care issues have major impacts on agency labor relations, as well as on long-term financial stability.  The firm acts as chief negotiator for our clients, providing strategy and direction during labor negotiations on retirement and health benefits and all other matters subject to negotiations.  We review agency policies, collective bargaining agreements/memoranda of understanding to ensure that they comply with applicable law.  We also advise agencies on the issue of modifying vested and non-vested benefits.

Featured Presentations

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore Recording: Defending Your Agency in a CalPERS Audit
August 14, 2014
Is your agency prepared for a CalPERS Audit? In this workshop, a CalPERS expert from Liebert Cassidy Whitmore will provide tips to aid your agency in preparing for, engaging in, and defending against an audit.
LCW Webinar Recording: EPMC, Pick-Ups and Cost-Sharing
March 31, 2015
This webinar will discuss the common parameters, questions and pitfalls of employers paying the member contributions of employees, and employees paying the contributions of their employers, to CalPERS or a '37 Act retirement system. 
LCW Webinar Recording: The Rules and Limitations for Post-Retirement Work and Reinstatement for CalPERS Retirees
April 28, 2015  |  10:00 AM
This webinar will discuss the complex rules and limitations for rehiring CalPERS retirees and reinstatement from retirement.
LCW Webinar Recording: Preparing for AB 1522 – California's New Paid Sick Leave Law
May 05, 2015
On July 1, 2015, California's new Paid Sick Leave Law (AB 1522) will go into effect. With very few exceptions, this new law will apply to every employee at your agency, including temporary, seasonal, and extra help employees. This webinar will cover the basic requirements of AB 1522 – including the Paid Sick Leave Law's use, accrual, carryover, and notice requirements. In addition, we'll outline the "gray" areas that exist and provide our best understanding of how to apply and implement the law so your agency will be prepared when the law goes into effect.
LCW Webinar Recording: Ensuring Fitness for Duty Exams "Fit" With the Law
July 13, 2015
The fitness for duty exam concept is straightforward and fairly self-explanatory. But the ADA and FEHA have restrictions on when an employer can send an employee to a fitness for duty examination, what information can be obtained, and how the information can be used. This webinar will provide supervisors, managers, and HR professionals with practical information to understand the ins and outs of fitness for duty exams.
The ACA and PEMHCA - An Overview and Their Relationship
August 11, 2015  |  10 AM

This webinar will provide an overview of the Public Employees' Medical and Hospital Care Act and the Affordable Care Act employer mandate provisions. CalPERS agencies who offer CalPERS medical plans must comply with the PEMHCA's eligibility provisions and minimum contribution requirements, among other rules. We will discuss how these rules intersect with the ACA's employer mandate provisions applicable to large employers. These laws impact an agency's handling of retired annuitants, part-time, seasonal and temporary employees. We will cover affordability issues, the full-time employee determination, and when to use CalPERS' Employer Designation Template.

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To Contact Liebert Cassidy Whitmore:
Los Angeles 310.981.2000 | Fresno 559.256.7800 | San Francisco 415.512.3000 | San Diego 619.481.5900 info@lcwlegal.com
© 2015 Liebert Cassidy Whitmore