Posted by: danielrashke | September 4, 2014

ERISA Turns 40

This week our nation reached a milestone, as it was on Labor Day in 1974 that President Gerald Ford signed into law the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Not many people know what ERISA stands for, and few can explain its significance. Still, millions of Americans have benefited in the forty years since ERISA first set safeguards for pension plans and first sanctioned the creation of individual retirement accounts and 401(k)-style workplace plans.

In the years leading up to ERISA, the concept of “insuring” employee benefits accounts gained momentum, due to events like the 1963 closing of a Studebaker-Packard plant in South Bend, Indiana. Because the company had an underfunded pension plan, 4,000 employees received lump sum payments valued roughly at only 15% of the actuarial value of their pension benefits. These individuals—ages 40-59, and with ten years at the plant—did better than the remaining 2,900 workers, who received no pensions at all.

Numerous events like this spurred the enactment of ERISA. To protect the interests of employee benefits plan participants and their beneficiaries, the Act:

  • Requires the disclosure of financial and other plan information to beneficiaries.
  • Establishes standards of conduct for plan fiduciaries.
  • Provides for appropriate remedies and access to the federal courts.

While ERISA safeguards traditional pensions, 401(k)-style and other defined contribution programs started to gain in popularity in the early 1980s. Today, more workers are covered by defined contribution plans than by traditional pensions. Many see 401(k) plans as better suited for our mobile labor force, because workers switching jobs can transfer these “portable” funds to IRAs.

ERISA has expanded to also regulate health-insurance benefits for employers who offer these programs. Besides requiring the provision of specific plan features and funding information, the law mandates strict deadlines for disclosing plan information to eligible employees.

Unfortunately, most employers do not realize just how ERISA empowers their employees. For example, employees and their beneficiaries can initiate civil and criminal actions in federal court to enforce the requirements of ERISA or to enforce the terms of a benefits plan. Failure to comply with ERISA can be costly to employers. Daily and cumulative penalties are possible. Any business that offers one or more employee welfare benefits plan must comply with ERISA.

Of course my advice to employers, as always, is that they retain a qualified, trusted, and vigilant third-party administrator to handle these burdens for them. The right vendor will manage all necessary communications, forms, and record keeping. As with so many federal programs and mandates, a teaspoon of prevention is far better than a tablespoon of medicine.

Posted by: brucestein | August 15, 2014

A Day of Caring

United Way of Dane County CEO Leslie Ann Howard and TASC CEO Dan Rashke.

United Way of Dane County CEO Leslie Ann Howard and TASC CEO Dan Rashke.

On August 14th, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Days of Caring Celebration hosted by United Way of Dane County. It is always an honor to work in support of this wonderful organization, and I was happy to fill in for Campaign Chair Jack Salzwedel of American Family Insurance.

This year, the United Way of Dane County has established an aggressive campaign goal…  At $19,000,000, this goal is definitely optimistic.  It’s also vital that we get there. After all, last year 946 children slept in Dane County shelters. And last year, the United Way helped stabilized 2,200 families through their Housing First Program. Eighty percent of those families were able to maintain their housing. This makes United Way’s Housing First Program two times more effective than an emergency shelter, at half the cost.

I recently learned about a local success story.  A young mother Takisha and her daughter Ayanna knew all too well what it was like not to know where they would sleep at night. Where would homework get done?  What could Takisha write on a job application as her address? That was then. These days, thanks to Housing First, they now have a place to call home. Takisha is employed in helping other families find stable housing, and she’s planning to get a master’s degree in social work! And, Takisha’s success has inspired Ayanna to aim for college as well.

How many others like Takisha and Ayanna are in your community? When we work together we make stories like these become a reality for hundreds of families. Here are three easy ways to lead by example and inspire more people to get involved.

  1. Give! And ask your friends to give.
  2. Volunteer! Get out in the community and make a direct impact!
  3. Tell people how your giving and volunteering is making a difference!

Through the United Way we can make a difference every day! For those of you who participate in your local United Way, I thank you for volunteering. Thank you for giving. And thank you for getting others involved.

Posted by: danielrashke | July 10, 2014

TASC Supports Guard and Reserve

As we celebrate America, I want to stress how much we honor those who have fought for our freedom and independence. Recently, I was honored to sign an “Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Statement of Support.”  Mr. Jeff Unger from the ESGR visited TASC to speak at our quarterly employee meeting and presented us with an award of distinction.  We are proud to display this plaque as a sign of our commitment to TASC’s military employees.

The Statement of Support Program is the cornerstone of ESGR’s effort to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve.  The program aims to increase employer support by encouraging employers to act as advocates for employee participation in the military.  Supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units.

By signing the ESGR Statement of Support, TASC recognizes our Guard and Reserve employees as crucial members of the U.S. Military who can be called to duty in times of need.  We fully support our military employees at TASC!  Our Military Pay Differential Policy guarantees that if an employee’s military pay is less than his/her salary, TASC will make up the difference while they are deployed.  It’s another way we take care of our employees and their families!  We recognize the sacrifice and commitment necessary to serve in the military and thank ALL who provide this invaluable, selfless service to our country.

To learn more about what this Statement of Support means for our military service men and women at TASC, visit the ESGR website at www.esgr.mil.

Posted by: danielrashke | June 17, 2014

Riding the Storm Out

Data Center Diagram2Last night the Madison, Wisconsin area (where the corporate headquarters of TASC are located) experienced several severe thunderstorms, straight-line winds, and at least one tornado. I’m relieved this morning to discover that nobody was seriously injured during the storms. Our thoughts are with those who experienced damage to their homes or property. Our connection to the community through the United Way will enable us to assist and support our home office employees and community neighbors who experienced damage, power outages, or injuries.

From a work perspective, this powerful storm caused a power outage in Building 2 of the TASC campus. Building 2 contains two main access points for our customers: the internet and the phone. Our state-of-the-art proprietary data center and customer care department are housed in this building, where we made significant investment to ensure Client and Participant data remains secure, and to guarantee that we can continue to serve customers at all times. When the power outage occurred at approximately 1:00 a.m. Central Standard Time, our diesel generator kicked in and kept the data center fully functional and running without a hiccup until power was restored.

In addition to the data center on the TASC campus, we also maintain a redundant data center in a suburb of Madison. Investing in and maintaining these security measures ensure that our Clients and Participants have access to their funds and Plan information at all times.

The forecast for this week predicts more severe storms all over the country. Please take caution and stay safe.

Posted by: danielrashke | May 29, 2014

The Value of Partnership

 

ImageIt’s been an exciting month for TASC! We gathered together to recognize the importance of our partners, and were recognized as a great partner ourselves.

We reward our top Providers all year long with our innovative Provider Incentive Program (PIP). We know these individuals are a big part of our success, and their hard work is integral to TASC becoming the number one privately-held TPA in the country. By acknowledging and taking care of the people who help you succeed, you build relationships that will stand the test of time.

The highlight of the program is our annual PIP Trip and Convention, held each spring in beautiful locations around the world. This May we hosted more than 50 Providers in beautiful, sunny Puerto Rico. What a great escape after our record cold Madison winter! As usual, the convention was a great getaway, with plenty of opportunity to network, learn about new TASC service offerings, and, of course, have some fun and relax.

The best part of this program? For me, it’s knowing that this isn’t a new initiative for us; it’s part of our DNA. We have been recognizing Provider efforts for more than 35 years, with robust commissions, incentives, gifts, exclusive membership in our Blue Circle program, and an annual trip. These rewards salute Provider efforts, and I think that’s something to celebrate.

We are also celebrating being recognized as a great partner ourselves. At the annual Alegeus Technologies’ Client Conference, TASC was recognized as the Partner of the Year. This award is earned by the Alegeus partner who best demonstrates outstanding leadership and vision through using technology for simplifying business operations, enabling product innovation, and driving transformational change in the business and the market.

It’s great when the companies you work with see you living and breathing your mission and values. You see, part of TASC’s mission is to efficiently deliver innovative services, and part of our vision is to develop solutions that streamline processes and produce more efficient, effective outcomes for our Clients and ourselves. This award is a high compliment because it means we’re “walking the walk” and not just creating nice sound bytes.

We’re not resting on our laurels or relaxing too much from that trip. We have a great responsibility to take care of our Clients, Participants, and Providers. We continue to push ourselves to be the best, to create value for our partnerships—now and in the future.

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