Vol. 75, No. 5, May
Web site helps attorneys represent
Social Security claimants
Visit the Social Security Administration's (SSA)
Web site, Social Security Online Representing Clients, for information
about the SSA's hearings and appeals process.
The site includes the Social Security Handbook, a complete list of
relevant federal regulation codes, and information on the Program
Operations Manual System (POMS). POMS is a primary source of information
Social Security employees use to process claims for Social Security
benefits. The site addresses specific questions about the representation
process, including fee petitions and agreements.
Visit the SSA Web
National survey reveals most law firms
Ninety-eight percent of the nation's law firms that responded to a
recent retirement and withdrawal survey offer active IRS-approved
retirement plans. This represents a 13 percent increase from the last
survey in 1998, according to the Altman Weil Retirement and
Withdrawal Survey for Private Law Firms.
Most popular qualified plans - Out of 12 plan types
identified in the survey, four emerged as most popular among law
percent provide combined 401(k) / profit-sharing plans;
- 25 percent maintain 401(k)s;
- 13 percent have money purchase pension plans; and
- 11 percent offer profit-sharing plans.
Firms with 100 or more lawyers overwhelmingly favor 401(k)s and
401(k) / profit-sharing combinations, while smaller firms offer a
variety of retirement plan options.
Nonqualified, unfunded plans - 28 percent of law
firms also report maintaining nonqualified plans limited to highly
compensated and key management employees. These plans do not qualify for
preferential tax treatment, but neither are they subject to the
reporting and disclosure requirements of qualified plans.
The survey found that only 13 percent of nonqualified plans are
prefunded, down from 27 percent in 1998. Nonqualified unfunded plans
rely on the ability and willingness of future owners to pay benefits as
they come due.
|Law firm payment caps, vesting requirements,
|Nonqualified plans that cap total payments per year
|Require a minimum period of service for
|Average number of years of service to qualify for full
Mandatory retirement - As the size of the firm
increases so does the likelihood of mandatory retirement. 72 percent of
firms with 100 or more lawyers have such provisions, compared to only 18
percent of those with 20 or fewer lawyers.
The survey also compares data on law firm payment caps and vesting
requirements, as shown in the accompanying chart.
This information is based on data collected from 197 law firms in the
fall of 2001. Of the firms responding, 22 percent had 100 or more
attorneys; 40 percent had 20-99 lawyers; and 38 percent had fewer than