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Labor Department captive benefits funding regulator Gary Lefkowitz to retire


WASHINGTON—Gary Lefkowitz, a Labor Department attorney who has been involved in reviewing captive insurance company employee benefits funding arrangements for more than 30 years, will retire at the end of next month.

Mr. Lefkowitz, 62, a senior employee benefits law specialist with the Labor Department's Office of Exemption Determinations, began his government career with the Internal Revenue Service in the mid-1970s. He later moved to the Labor Department as part of a government benefits reorganization plan.

At the Labor Department, he helped draft a 1979 rule—known as a class exemption—under which employers could use their domestic captives to directly fund benefit risks so long as at least 50% of the captive's business was unrelated to the parent. For employers wanting to use their captives to reinsure benefit risks, an individual exemption and meeting the 50% test still were required.

In 1999, after many discussions with captive attorneys, consultants, employers and others, the Labor Department gave employers an alternative to the 50% test. Under that alternative, having a certain amount of unrelated business in their captives was not a prerequisite to winning Labor Department approval for a captive benefit funding plan, so long as certain other conditions were met, such as enhancement of participants' benefits.

Since that alternative—first used by Columbia Energy Group in an arrangement that got final Labor Department approval in 2000—about two dozen other employers—have received DOL approval for similar arrangements. The most recent includes Google Inc. Mr. Lefkowitz was involved in reviewing most of the post-Columbia Energy applications.

After Mr. Lefkowitz's retirement, other Labor Department attorneys will continue to handle captive benefits funding applications.

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