Author Archive for Audrea Bauer

March 2018 DeChristopher Group Newsletter

How Employers Can Engage Millennials in Benefits

Who are the Millennials and why should employers engage them?

Millennials (born between 1980s to early 2000s) are now the single largest group within the work force, and will soon become the biggest consumer group.

Understanding and being able to engage with Millennials is going to help your company gain a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining a large and talented pool of resources.

10 Interesting Facts About Millennials

1. Millennials are carrying a total of $1 trillion in student debt.
2. Over 65% of Gen-Y workers have a bachelor’s degree.
3. 88% prefer a collaborative work culture than a competitive one.
4. 74% want flexible work schedules.
5. 92% believe that business success should be measured by more than just profit.
6. 56% won’t work at a company if they ban social media access.
7. 50% do not believe that Social Security will exist when they reach their retirement age.
8. Millennials are considered multitaskers extraordinaire.
9. Millennials are virtually connected via social networks; they value the role they play in these communities.
10. Millennials are the most racially diverse generation.

According to a study by a best practice insight and technology company, the average Millennial job candidate gets 12.5% more job offers than candidates from older generations.

As Millennials continue to dominate the working landscape, the importance of attracting millennials cannot be stressed enough. Organizations that understand how much Millennials matter are going to win.

Make Benefits Millennial-Friendly

Before the influx of millennials, workers valued transactional needs more than anything else. Today’s Millennials want benefits that are innovative, unique and fluid. Asking a millennial to complete a long and tedious benefit enrollment form is not going to win them over.

Millennials value training, development and flexibility at work more than financial rewards. Think yoga classes at lunch or bringing a dog to work. To win the loyalty of Millennials, employers should engage them around their unique set of priorities and continue to reach out to them throughout their tenure.

Employers should adapt their benefits strategies by offering tools that help Millennials make choices about their benefits. Given that Millennials value technology and privacy, offering telemedicine tools, wellness apps and online financial planning are just a few ways to engage Millennials.

March 2018 TDG Newsletter

Joe Spagnola, MA, J.D.

Joe Spagnola, MA, J.D.
Joe is HR Policy and Legal Consultant at The DeChristopher Group

Joe partners with our clients to promote and teach HR Professionals best practices in HR and employment practices. He has trained and counseled many clients to ensure appropriate and efficient administration of policies that have complex regulatory requirements such as FMLA, ADA, COBRA and more. He has also collaborated with Benefits Administrators to ensure effective administration of clients’ benefit plans.

Some of Joe’s areas of expertise include HR best practices, HR policy design, developing complaint employee handbooks, provide quality control measures, employee law, employee relations, leave administration and conflict resolution.

Joe received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from James Madison, his M.A. in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations from Saint Francis University. He received his J.D. from Charlotte School of Law.

Joe is fluent in Spanish and coaches soccer at every youth level including NCAA divisions I and III.

Mary B. Andersen, CEBS, ERPA, QPA

Mary B. Andersen, CEBS, ERPA, QPA
Mary is ERISA Compliance Consultant at The DeChristopher Group

Mary’s role is critical and vital in a highly regulated benefits environment. To quote Mary, “ERISA compliance is like a big jigsaw puzzle. You may have all the pieces but the challenge is putting the puzzle together correctly. I help clients put the puzzle together.” Mary’s career spans decades of experience as an employee benefits professional in the corporate world and as a consultant. She is the go-to person for Forms 5500 preparation and other ERISA requirements.

Mary was a Principal at the Vanguard Group where she built a department dedicated to providing ERISA consulting services. Mary also spent 12 years at Coopers & Lybrand, now known as PriceWaterhouseCoopers, where she was jointly responsible for developing and building a national compliance review practice. She has been a frequent speaker at employee benefit professional symposiums and has written numerous articles on compliance-related issues. Mary serves on the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) Reporting and Disclosure Committee, which keeps abreast of government employee benefit reporting and disclosure breaking news and technical releases in addition to closely monitoring legislative and regulatory actions.

Mary is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Math. She is a member of the CEBS charter class and holds ISCEBS fellowship designation. Mary also holds ERPA and QPA designations.

Margaret Redd, MPH, CHES

Margaret Redd, MPH, CHES
Margaret Client Services Manager at The DeChristopher Group

Margaret is the latest addition to our team. She oversees the eligibility and enrollment department where her primary goal is to ensure clients who utilize one of our proprietary benefits administration portals are receiving the highest level of service. Our eligibility and enrollment team is an integral part of our organization as clients often rely on us to assist with daily enrollment transactions.

Margaret has worked as both a Service Manager and an Account Manager within the firm. Because of her unique experience, she provides a high level of customer service to clients in all situations. Margaret received her Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Masters of Public Health from Lynchburg College and is also certified as a Health Education Specialist (CHES). She is passionate about social justice and has done extensive research into homelessness and its relationship with the environment. Margaret is also an avid reader and writer. She has extensive experience in program planning and implementation. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and cat, Millie, as well as baking, crafting, and shopping.

Brigitta Toruno

Brigitta Toruno
Brigitta is Bi-Lingual Communications Specialist at The DeChristopher Group

Brigitta delivers strategic, customized and effective benefits communication throughout the year. Her busiest time of year is during renewal season where many groups seek out her bi-lingual skills and knowledge in employee benefits. Brigitta is an engaging pubic speaker and delivers effective and practical communication. Brigitta is also the lead trainer on topics such as sexual harassment awareness, cultural diversity, workplace inclusion and other topics.

Brigitta is a bilingual native of the Washington, DC area. The daughter of an Argentine father and Ecuadorian mother, her native language is Spanish. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Business Administration from Averett College and successfully completed the Minority Business Executive Program from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

When not at work, Brigitta is on the board for numerous organizations such as the George Mason University Women in Business Initiative and Devotion to Children, a Northern Virginia-based organization dedicated to providing services to needy children under the age of six.

Brigitta and her daughter also offer mother/daughter entrepreneur workshops to organizations such as the Girl Scout’s Encuentro de Chicas Latinas.

Danielle Murray

Danielle Murray
Danielle Murray is Account Manager at The DeChristopher Group.

With more than eight years’ experience specializing in customer service, human resource management, benefits data management, benefits administration/payroll migration and builds, Danielle has become both a generalist and a specialist in her field. Much of her past experience involved serving as an HR Specialist/Project Manager for a variety of clients and Federal Government contracts. Benefit plan data is often managed manually from multiple sources and in multiple locations such as legacy system databases, excel spreadsheets and outdated HRIS software. Our clients have benefited from Danielle’s deep understanding of the myriads of payroll softwares, HRIS systems and databases. She has been instrumental in the set-up, migration, and installation of many benefit administration software solutions.

Danielle has a proven track record of dedicated service to numerous key accounts. She provides technical support and benefits data management oversight to clients throughout the year and at renewal time. Danielle has a wealth of knowledge with different HR Associations, specifically Professional Employment Organizations (PEO).

Danielle brings superior customer service as well as an excellent work ethic to the team. Having been a former Division I athlete she is a great team player and very loyal to the mission. Danielle graduated right down the street from George Mason University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Public Administration. She is a sports fanatic, loves her New York Yankees and is a huge college football fan. She and her lab mix, Bailey, never miss a Hokie football game.

Shannon Joy

Shannon Joy
Shannon is Senior Account Manager at The DeChristopher Group.

Shannon is Senior Account Manager at The DeChristopher Group.
As a licensed Health and Life broker and consultant, Shannon has over 10 years’ experience in the account management and employee benefits arena. Whether meeting with business owners or C-Suite executives to help create that perfect employee benefits package or educating employees on how to best choose and utilize their benefits, Shannon has seen and done most, if not all of it.

Shannon enjoys employee engagement and public speaking and therefore excels in partnering with large employers to assist in their open enrollment communication needs, conducting Lunch and Learns to educate employees and ensuring a positive employee experience. Shannon provides a decade of experience communicating employee benefits with a deep and broad knowledge of employee benefit plans and the corresponding regulations.

The best way to utilize Shannon’s skill set is to pair her with key accounts that often have complex needs as she is an effective problem solver and tackles any challenge with the right attitude. Her past sales, customer service, renewal and account management experience has helped accelerate The DeChristopher Group’s client retention rate. One thing that will become evident quickly when working with Shannon is she is a person that enjoys creating relationships and values the importance of a mutually respectful partnership.

Shannon is married has two teenage children. Depending on which day you talk to Shannon she may very well tell you that the true love of her life is her dog Gibby. Shannon loves sports, does extensive traveling with her daughter for softball and son for soccer. Shannon holds a degree from Radford University and is a lifelong Redskins fan. She also happens to love the Washington Capitals. Shannon grew up in Prince Georges County Maryland and currently resides in Virginia. Shannon says once she retires you will be able to find her sipping red wine by the ocean.

February 2018 DeChristopher Group Newsletter


The new federal tax law, signed by President Trump in December, contains a number of provisions that will impact the workplace and employers.

As many are aware, FMLA requires employers to provide certain employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave annually for specified family and medical reasons. The leave may be paid or unpaid.

Covered Employers
Generally, an employer with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the location where an employee is based is subject to the FMLA.

New Business Tax Credit
To encourage employers to provide eligible employees with paid leave under FMLA, the new tax law provides eligible employers with a new business credit equal to 12.5% of the amount of wages paid to “qualifying employees” during any period in which such employees are on FMLA as long as the rate of payment under the program is at least 50% of the employee’s normal wages.

The credit can be used to lower an employer’s taxable income, subject to limitations, and applicable alternative minimum tax. The amount of paid family and medical leave used to determine the tax credit for an employee may not exceed 12 weeks.

Eligibility for Tax Credit
To be eligible for the credit, an employer must have a written policy that provides all qualifying full-time employees with at least two weeks of annual paid family and medical leave.

Part-time employees are also to be allowed a commensurate amount of leave on a pro rata basis. Qualifying employees are those who have worked for the company for at least one year and were paid no more than 60% of the compensation threshold for highly compensated employees in the previous year. (For 2018, 60% of the compensation threshold is equal to 60% x $120,000 = $72,000.)

Who Determines Eligibility for Tax Credit The Secretary of Treasury will determine whether an employer or an employee satisfies applicable requirements for the employer to be eligible for the tax credit based on information provided by the employer as the Secretary determines to be necessary or appropriate.

If the employee takes a paid leave for other reasons, such as vacation leave, personal leave, or other medical or sick leave, this paid leave will not be considered to be family and medical leave for purposes of the credit.

The credit is effective for wages paid in taxable years starting on January 1, 2018. It is set to expire for wages paid in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2019.

February 2018 DeChristopher Group Newsletter

January 2018 DeChristopher Group Newsletter

On Dec. 20, 2017 Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which makes significant changes to individual and corporate provisions of the U.S. tax code, including a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21%, down from 35%, beginning in 2018.

Repeal of the Individual Mandate

The bill includes permanent repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate, requiring individuals to purchase and maintain health coverage, by zeroing out the penalty beginning in 2019. For 2018, most individuals are still required to maintain coverage or pay a penalty when they file their 2018 federal income tax return in 2019.

What About the Cadillac Tax?

The bill also changes how certain tax thresholds will be indexed for inflation. Affected provisions, including the ACA “Cadillac Tax” (scheduled to take effect in 2020), will now be indexed to the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead of the regular CPI (the previous metric). This change makes it likely that more employer-sponsored plans would trigger the Cadillac tax sooner.

The Cadillac Tax is a tax intended to rein in high-priced insurance policies offered through employers by placing a 40 percent tax on the portion of benefits exceeding certain price thresholds.

The tax also raises revenue (by as much as $66 billion dollars over a decade) for the ACA.

Cadillac Tax Will Hit Majority of Employer Plans

Employers should begin reviewing their group health plans in the coming year and take measures to avoid the excise tax.

The Cadillac Tax annual threshold amounts for 2020 are expected to be:

  • $10,900 for employee-only coverage
  • $29,400 for all other coverage

The excise tax brings greater pressure for employers to generate immediate cost savings through cost-shifting and other short-term fixes. It will be important to work with your trusted advisor so that short-term and long-term cost-management strategies can be considered and implemented.

It’s important to note that key elements of the ACA remain intact, including the Employer Shared Responsibility for large employers.

As always, feel free to contact us anytime to discuss your specific needs.

January 2018 TDG Newsletter

An Overview of the 2017 Tax Legislation PwC

December 2017 DeChristopher Group Newsletter

New Employee Benefit Limits for 2018


Many employee benefits are subject to annual dollar limits that are periodically increased to keep up with inflation. The IRS has issued new annual dollar limits for some welfare and retirement plans.

Employers should take note of the benefit limit changes and update their benefit plan designs and plan documents accordingly.

The chart below provides a summary of the benefit limit changes effective January 1, 2018. New Employee Benefit Limits for 2018.

2018 Employee Benefit Plan Limits

December 2017 DeChristopher Group Newsletter