Posts Tagged '401k'

Important Benefits Announcement 10/29/08

This was posted on the Heller Ehrman external website.  Can someone clarify whether this means those of us terminated on 10/10/2008 and 10/17/2008 are covered through November?

Update: I wanted to excerpt this from the comments since it seems to be spot on in terms of whether or not you are covered, and in what manner, if you were terminated on 10/10 or 10/17:

1) Health insurance coverage from Heller is provided on a monthly basis, and when employment is terminated (voluntarily or otherwise) you continued to be covered through the end of that calendar month.

Corollary a: Anyone terminated 10/10 or 10/17 would be covered and paid through for 10/31.

(2) For coverage to extend after the calendar month of termination, you must elect for coverage through COBRA. The firm must offer you the option of remaining covered under your current plan, so long as that plan exists.

Corollary b: Any terminated employee, to be covered from 11/1 through 11/30, must elect COBRA. In any event the cost must be borne by the employee.

Corollary c: COBRA coverage through Cigna will no longer be available after 11/30, since the plan won’t exist anymore.

Corollary d: COBRA coverage through Kaiser may continue to be available after 11/30, but Heller might not know when it will expire until 30 days beforehand.

Health Insurance

Coverage provided under our group health insurance plans with Kaiser and CIGNA remains in effect, including COBRA coverage available through those plans. Over the past month we have engaged in extensive negotiations with CIGNA that were complicated by the fact that the firm owes CIGNA a substantial amount of money. Those negotiations resulted in an agreement — reached earlier this afternoon — whereby CIGNA consented to continue health insurance coverage in force for all plan participants but only through November 30, 2008. We do not expect CIGNA to agree to continued coverage on a group basis beyond that date. Termination of the CIGNA plan effective November 30, 2008 will result in termination of COBRA coverage for CIGNA plan participants effective on that date, as well as termination of coverage for the spouses/partners of retired shareholders insured through CIGNA effective on that date.

If you are insured under the CIGNA group health insurance plan you will receive a separate formal communication from the firm announcing the termination of the CIGNA coverage. That communication will also outline health insurance options available to you, including options potentially available to you for converting your CIGNA coverage to an individual policy, as well as options available to you under HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).

The Kaiser group health insurance plan remains in force. We are not able to predict at this time whether or when that plan might terminate, but under the plan Kaiser is obligated to provide the firm with at least 30 days notice of its intent to terminate coverage. We will promptly advise all Kaiser participants in the event we receive such termination notice.

Retirement Plans

We are pleased to report that the work required to “unfreeze” the Heller Ehrman LLP 401(k) Retirement Savings and Profit Sharing Plan has been completed. You will be able to take a distribution from the Plan beginning Friday, October 31. With the exception of a small Vanguard record-keeping fee ($3.75), no costs or fees associated with the Plan have been assessed against participant accounts.

All participants are required to take a distribution by November 30. If you wish to pay off all or part of a loan before taking a distribution, please visit for the loan payoff form and instructions. You will receive a more formal announcement of this information from the Plan Administrator.

401k Freeze – Important Information

This information is from the link on the Heller Ehrman external website which did not work for some readers.  Some very good news – there are no termination fees to be assessed to the account holders.

Action Required: 401(k) Retirement Savings and Profit Sharing Plan Closing

Dear Plan Participant:

We made you aware earlier this month that the Heller Ehrman LLP 401(k) Plan Retirement Savings & Profit Sharing Plan was frozen to distributions. We are happy to inform you by this letter that the freeze will lift effective October 31, 2008. See “Your Next Steps” section below for how to request a distribution. You should arrange to take a distribution from the plan immediately. You must take a distribution from the plan by November 30, 2008.

You must decide by November 30, 2008, what to do with savings you have accumulated in the plan. This letter outlines the actions you can now take on your account, and provides important information about your distributions options.

Please review your choices carefully. You should also review the enclosed Special Tax Notice to determine the tax impact of the distribution option you choose. Then follow “Your Next Steps” as described near the end of this letter to implement the option you choose. Remember: If you have an outstanding loan, you must repay it in full to avoid taxes on the balance due. See the section of this letter entitled “Your Plan Loan.”

Until you request a distribution, you can continue to direct your investments in the normal way.

Your Distribution Options

Directly roll over your money to:

  • Another employer’s eligible plan. If the plan permits, you can roll over your plan balance to another employer’s eligible plan. This option will enable you to keep your money tax-deferred.
  • A traditional IRA. You can roll over pretax assets to a traditional IRA. This option will enable you to keep your money tax-deferred.
  • Take your savings in cash as a lump sum. This choice has significant tax implications. Distributions from pre-tax accounts are generally subject to ordinary income taxes and usually a 10% federal penalty tax if you are under age 59½. If you terminated employment with Heller Ehrman in the year you were age 55 or more, the 10% federal penalty tax does not apply to you. The IRS requires that 20% of your distribution be withheld for taxes, though your actual tax liability on the distribution may be more or less than 20%. You should consult your tax advisor regarding the tax implications of electing a lump sum distribution and to determine if you qualify for any of the exemptions from the 10% penalty tax.
  • If you do not make an election by November 30, 2008, your balance will be automatically rolled over to a Vanguard IRA® and invested in Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund. (Please review the enclosed fund fact sheet for more details on this fund.) After your Vanguard IRA is established, you can transfer the assets to an IRA at another financial institution or roll them over to another employer’s eligible plan (if the plan permits).

Plan termination note: Please be aware that the Plan has determined that no plan termination fees will be assessed against participant accounts.

Your Plan Loan

You must repay any outstanding loan balance you have with the plan by the date of your distribution or November 30, 2008, whichever comes first.

If you do not repay the loan by 4 p.m., Eastern time, on November 30, 2008, the unpaid balance will be reported to the IRS as a distribution. Consequently, the taxable portion of this distribution, if any, will be subject to ordinary income taxes and, if you are under age 59½, usually a 10% federal penalty tax. You cannot directly roll over an outstanding loan balance.

To pay off your outstanding loan, download the Loan Payoff form from the 401(k) Plan website ( or the Heller Ehrman website ( Then call a Vanguard Participant Services associate at 800_523-1188 to determine the loan payoff amount and obtain further instructions. Vanguard will not accept personal checks for loan payoffs.

Additional Vanguard Services

Vanguard is much more than a retirement plan provider. We offer brokerage services, financial planning, and more. As you weigh your distribution options and investment decisions, you may want to consider using one or more of these services.

Your Next Steps

To request a direct rollover or a lump-sum distribution, simply log on to your account at or call a Vanguard Participant Services associate at 800-523-1188. To request a final distribution online, you must be a registered user of To register for immediate online account access, you’ll need your plan number (093738). Note: You will not be able to request a distribution for seven days after you register for online account access.


Call Vanguard Participant Services at 800-523-1188 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Eastern time.

Best wishes in your future endeavors.



Updated 401k Information

It appears that the Heller Ehrman external website has been updated with 401k information; however one of the more important documents, Action Required: 401k Retirement Savings and Profit Sharing Plan Distributions, is not working.  The document downloads but will not open.  If some is able to get the document to open, please copy and paste into a new Word document or into an email and send it to me at and I’ll post it.

401(k) Loan Payoff Instructions

401(k) Loan Payoff Form

401k Retirement Savings and Profit Sharing Plan Distributions

Official News on 401k Plan Freeze

[Note from H.D.: I am not gloating over this finally being issued – I am more concerned about the cryptic language such as “Once the Dissolution Committee is confident that all costs of plan administration paid, the freeze will end.”  So, there is some concern that they aren’t being paid? Haven’t been paid? Will not be paid in the future?  Is this because of the banks having control over the money and an upcoming payment is due?  I think we need more information.]

“As you know, the shareholders voted to dissolve the firm on September 26, 2008. Wind down operations continue under the Dissolution Committee with the employment of most employees ending on or before November 28. The firm’s dissolution on September 26 caused the Heller Ehrman LLP 401(k) Retirement Savings and Profit Sharing Plan to terminate.

In order to assure an orderly termination process and a fair and equitable allocation of costs associated with the plan termination, the Dissolution Committee has decided to temporarily freeze the Plan. During this temporary freeze period, you can continue to access your plan account and change investments through Vanguard. However, effective immediately, no new contributions or loans will be permitted and no withdrawals or distributions requests will be processed. If you have an outstanding loan, your loan payments will continue to be deducted from your paycheck and applied to the loan balance, while payrolls are processed. More details on loan repayments will be available shortly.

Once the Dissolution Committee is confident that all costs of plan administration paid, the freeze will end. You will then need to decide what to do with your plan savings. Additional instructions will be sent to you about your distribution options at the appropriate time.

Remember to visit the Plan’s website at:

Updates regarding the Plan will be posted here where they will be easily accessible to you after you leave the firm.


If you have any questions about this notice, please contact [redacted] or Vanguard Participant Services at 800-523-1188. Additional plan information is available on the Heller Ehrman LLP intranet site.

Vanguard 401k Accounts Frozen

This post is not to incite a panic but we have heard from several Hellerites and ex-Hellerites this evening that for some reason, there is a freeze on the Heller Ehrman 401k accounts as of 10/6/2008.  

One of our sources is an ex-Heller employee who decided finally to move their money over to their current firm’s plan.  They were told that the plan was “frozen” as of 10/6/2008 and that no date has been given for the plan to be unfrozen.

Vanguard can be reached by calling Daniel Blau,  +1 (888) 629-4920, Ext. 65327.  Offices for Vanguard are open 8:00 am EDT until 8:00 pm EDT.

After calling Vanguard, people have been told to contact Carol Budinger at Heller concerning the freeze.  

Hopefully we will get some more concise and definitive information tomorrow, hopefully from Heller management rather than our usual method of scrambling for such information.

Over and out.

Heller Drone
Cruise Director

401k Offer

We received a comment on one of the 401k postings over night from someone who has assisted various ex-Hellerites in the past with handling their 401k and other retirement accounts.

While, as with the recruiter listings, this is not an endorsement of any one company or person and the services they offer, it is a way of making the information available so that Heller support staff can make informed decisions.

That said, there is now a Benefits page which will list various links that might be helpful.

And here is the full context of Chris Hereford’s comment:

“Retirement accounts and benefits can seem intimidating, but in times of transition it is a great opportunity to evaluate your options. If anyone has questions about 401k plans, profit sharing plans, ect. please feel free to give me a call or send me an email. My partner and I are financial advisors for a major Wall Street firm and we specialize in helping individuals with their retirement accounts. We have worked with many people from Heller in the past and would be glad to answer any questions you may have.”

Update: 401k Advice

Your cruise director has received several e-mails concerning the 401k issue.  It really seems to be a “good news, and good news, but you might want to also consider . . .” situation:

– several people have asked and received confirmation that Heller is paid up on all its administrative fees for the 401k accounts;

– the vibe is that those emailing believe what they are hearing from our benefits people (who are Heller support staff too) and are confident that they will have access to their retirement funds; but

– some have suggested lowering your contribution to 0% for the time being.

There of course are advantages and disadvantages to not putting money into your 401k: you have a higher taxable amount in your paycheck but, what you do get to keep is instantly accessible and not tied up in a 401k account.  Good advice from several people.  Yours truly took the “plunge” as it were and set the contribution level to 0%.

This may not kick in on the upcoming pay date (Friday, September 25) but it will kick in for pay dates thereafter.

Remember, you can also makes changes to your contribution level later.  Perhaps later in the year when bonus checks come out.  LOL.

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Remember the words of Rev. Frank Scott (Gene Hackman in The Poseidon Adventure):

". . . sitting on our butts is not going to help us either. Maybe by climbing out of here, we can save ourselves. If you've got any sense, you'll come along with us."

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