June 7, 2004 – The U.S. Supreme Court released their decision in Central Laborers’ Pension Fund v. Heinz, 541 U.S. 739 (2004). The opinion by Justice Souter begins with:
“With few exceptions, the “anti-cutback” rule of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) prohibits any amendment of a pension plan that would reduce a participant’s “accrued benefit”. (citation omitted) The question is whether the rule prohibits an amendment expanding the categories of post-retirement employment that triggers suspension of payment of early retirement benefits already accrued. We hold such an amendment prohibited.”
On May 2, 2005, the IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2005-23 addressing the retroactive application of this decision.
On Aug. 9, 2006, the IRS issues Final Regulations on Section 411(d)(6) Protected Benefits. Within those regulations, they state that these regulations are intended to reflect Central Laborers’ Pension Fund v. Heinz, 541 U.S. 739 (2004).
Thomas C. Goldstein argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Central Laborers’ Pension Fund with Jeffrey M. Wilday, Patrick J. O’Hara and Amy Howe joining him on the brief. Patrick J. O’Hara and Jeffrey M. Wilday represented the Central Laborers Pension Fund before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
David M. Gossett argued the case on behalf of Thomas Heinz and Richard Schmitt, Jr. with Charles A. Rothfeld and Gery R. Gasick joining him on the brief. Gery R. Gasick also represented Thomas Heinz and Richard Schmitt, Jr. before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
John P. Elwood argued on behalf of the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal with Assistant Attorney General O’Connor, Deputy Solicitor Genera Keedler, Kenneth L. Greene, and John A Dudeck, Jr. joining him on the brief.