There has been a flurry of news in recent days on health and benefit issues. The State of New York has released on its paid family leave website the official forms that employees use to request paid family leave as well as a form for health providers to complete about the health status of a person being cared for.
The forms are to be found at https://www.ny.gov/new-york-state-paid-family-leave/paid-family-leave-employer-and-employee-forms
The New York State Paid Family Leave program begins on January 1, 2018 for employees in private companies. Workers can receive up to 8 weeks of paid family leave starting at 50% of their salary though it is capped at the average state weekly wage. Full benefits of 12 paid weeks at 2/3 of salary will be gradually phased through 2021.
This is a new state benefit program and employees who have been with an employer for six months working at least 20 hours per week will be eligible immediately to apply. A small deduction is being taken out of each employee’s paycheck and the employer’s personnel or human resources department should have already communicated with workers about the benefit and payroll deduction.
A federal judge has invalidated Allergan’s patents for Restates which we reported on a few weeks ago. The company had sold the patents to the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Nation on the New York – Quebec border near Massena, New York since the tribe is a sovereign entity. Many members of Congress were alarmed about this loophole or end around maneuver by a drug company to maintain its patent profits and shield them from lower price competition. US Circuit Judge William Bryson rejected that maneuver also writing, “Sovereign immunity should not be treated as a monetizable commodity that can be purchased by private entities as part of a scheme to evade their legal responsibilities.”
Allergan is planning to appeal and no cheaper generic drugs have yet been approved to compete with Restatis.
Social Security benefits will rise by 2% in 2018 it was announced last week for the more than 70 million current beneficiaries. An average $25 monthly increase in the cost of living adjustment will be negated in part by the expected increase in Medicare Part B premiums which are deducted from the Social Security check. Senior organizations say that the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers formula understates inflation and costs for older persons.
This is the largest COLA raise since 2011 when the COLA increase was 3.6%. Increases in the past two years were 0% in 2016 and 0.3% this year. The Social Security Administration also announced that the income subject to the Social Security tax of 6.2% will rise to $128,700 from $127,200 this year. No Social Security taxes are paid on annual income above the earnings cap so persons at salaries higher than the earnings cap see a sizable “tax cut” in their paychecks after they have exceeded the annual earnings cap.