What makes retirement secure (or at least less insecure)? Economic security is supported by Social Security, private (employer-employee) retirement plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and personal savings. Healthcare security (which overlaps and fundamentally affects economic security) has been supported by Medicare and private (employer-retiree) health benefit plans. Now that we have entered an era of economic distress and budget crises, how sufficient are the traditional employment based retirement security systems, and can they remain so? How reliable are current or past commitments for benefits to be paid in the future? What laws and public policies control or affect the reliability and enforceability of such commitments? And what laws and policies apply to governmental commitments such those involved in Detroit's municipal bankruptcy?
At present, (i) the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), (ii) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), and (iii) the Social Security Act, including title XVIII (Medicare) and title XIX (Medicaid) provide a federal regulatory structure. And state laws? The answer there depends on the scope of federal preemption—an issue still heavily litigated. The Seminar will discuss important economic, legal, political, and moral issues within this context, including the proper scope of the “safety net”; the “intergenerational compact” between one generation and the next (different cohorts of taxpayers); the actuarial unpredictability of costs; the legitimacy of risk-taking; employer duties and burdens; employee/retiree rights; the impact of economic downturns and bankruptcy; and the duties of “fiduciaries” in managing other people’s money and deciding other people’s benefits. Consideration of political controversies such as artificially low rates of return on accumulated savings, and legislative gridlock make for an unusually messy matrix for solving these legal and economic issues.
*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.
**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.