Sarah advises plan sponsor boards and benefit plan committees on their fiduciary responsibilities and governance best practices. She routinely conducts fiduciary training and provides committees updates on regulatory and litigation developments and benefits industry trends.
Clients seek Sarah’s representation on a variety of matters regulated by the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services. She regularly advises clients whose retirement and/or welfare plans are under investigation or audit by these agencies. She also conducts internal audits to identify areas of potential liability and implement comprehensive risk mitigation plans.
Sarah also counsels clients on the evolving requirements related to wellness programs and consumer-driven health plans. She advises on the benefit plan implications of the HIPAA privacy and security rules, including the implementation of reasonable policies and procedures, and she regularly conducts training for HR managers and supervisors on privacy and security issues for benefit plans.
Health Care Reform
With a detailed understanding of health care reform, Sarah helps clients across industry sectors comply with the Affordable Care Act. She advises clients on administrative compliance, documentation and implementation, and the employer-shared responsibility requirements.
A significant portion of Sarah’s practice focuses on the unique needs of tax-exempt entities. Sarah has experience with church plans, 403(b) plans, 457 deferred compensation plans, and the 4960 excise tax.
- Counseled clients across industry sectors on strategic responses to the 2014 employer shared responsibility (“pay or play”) mandate, including application of the rules regarding offering coverage to “substantially all” (95 percent of) full-time employees; implementing recordkeeping systems for tracking hours of service under the new IRS rules; and evaluating employment classification and benefit eligibility options for part-time and non-traditional (e.g., temporary, intermittent, per diem) positions
- Conducted training sessions for HR managers and supervisors, as well as business associates, regarding the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules
- Counseled clients regarding the employee benefit implications of mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, and other corporate transactions and drafted related documentation, including corporate and committee resolutions, retirement and severance plans, and retention arrangements
- Assisted a variety of clients with benefit plan integration issues following corporate acquisitions, including assessment of strategic options, maintaining “protected” benefits, ensuring compliance with nondiscrimination rules and how/when to take advantage of controlled group transition rules, and streamlining benefit plan administration
- Assisted several Fortune 500 companies with responses to DOL audits of their retirement plans and health and tax-exempt health systems
- Assisted several Fortune 500 companies with preparations for IRS audit of their retirement plans
- Audited a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company’s classification of contingent workers and prepared related compliance and training materials for managers, supervisors and staff
- Conducted comprehensive benefit plan operational reviews for a health care system to identify areas of potential liability for noncompliance and implemented a comprehensive risk mitigation strategic plan
- Assisted faith-based organizations with evaluating how “church plan” status applies to their organizations, assessing the pros and cons of church plan status and implementing an effective governance process for those plains maintained as a church plan
- Obtained an individual prohibited transaction exemption on behalf of a retirement plan sponsor
- Reviewed retirement plan operational errors and assisted in their correction, including through the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS)
Sarah is a board member of the Notre Dame Club of Chicago Scholarship Foundation. She has been an active member of the Notre Dame Club of Chicago since 2002 and served on the Club’s board of directors from July 2004 to June 2014, including as Club President from July 2012 to June 2013. The ND Club of Chicago serves the 17,000+ alumni living in the Chicagoland area through a variety of community service, networking, continuing education and social events. The mission of the Club includes raising funds for the Foundation and for the sponsorship of Summer Service Learning Projects in Chicago. The Foundation currently provides need-based scholarship assistance to over 70 local students attending Notre Dame.
Sarah is a member of the Board of Specified Jurisdiction of Northside Catholic Academy, an elementary school in the Edgewater and Rogers Park neighborhoods of Chicago.