Elizabeth Drake practices in the area of employee benefits and executive compensation, with a focus on Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and tax requirements applicable retirement plans and non-qualified arrangements, health and welfare benefits and fringe benefit programs. In recent years, Ms. Drake’s practice has focused on counseling and advocacy work on behalf of U.S. Fortune 500 companies on complex and sensitive matters involving their defined benefit pension and 401(k) plans. A large portion of her practice involves assisting Fortune 150 companies with pension plan de-risking activities, including the settlement of pension plan liabilities through lump sum window programs and pension plan terminations and annuity placements. She has also assisted clients in compliance with regulatory and fiduciary obligations and sensitive employee communications when negotiating vendor agreements.
Her understanding of the legal requirements and day-to-day administrative issues make her uniquely able to guide clients through the challenges presented by ever-evolving legal requirements and complex administrative issues.
Ms. Drake advises her clients on complex and sensitive matters, such as preparing defined benefit pension plan amendments and the related ERISA section 204(h) notices (much like the communication that plaintiffs took issue with in the Cigna v. Amara case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court this year) as companies take steps to wind down their pension plans and assisting clients in the implementation of Roth contribution features to their 401(k) plans and the complex tax and employee communication issues associated with those features. Ms. Drake also represents clients before the IRS National Office in connection with technical advice proceedings, letter ruling requests and closing agreements. She also assists clients in securing closing agreements with the IRS under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS).
Before joining Miller & Chevalier, Ms. Drake practiced as an associate in the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation group at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Washington, DC. Prior to her time at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, she worked at an actuarial and benefits consulting firm in Pittsburgh, PA.
- Obtained private letter ruling allowing company to transfer excess pension assets to a Section 401(h) account through a Section 420 transfer on behalf of retirees who have had their pension benefits settled through retiree lump sum window or otherwise (PLR 201511044).
- Obtained three private letter rulings allowing companies to offer retiree lump sum windows as part of their pension plan de-risking strategies (PLR 201228045, PLR 201431034, PLR 201424031).
- Obtained private letter ruling involving a transaction freezing of accruals and contributions under a floor-offset retirement plan arrangement and Rev. Rul. 76-259 and Section 411(d)(6).
- Assisted major companies in the termination of their defined benefit pension plans and related annuity placements, some of which included Section 401(h) accounts for retiree medical benefits.
- Assisted large and mid-size clients in negotiating vendor agreements, employee communications and compliance reviews in connection with recordkeeper changes.
Rankings and Recognition
- Chambers USA: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (District of Columbia), 2014 - 2015
- Legal 500: Labor & Employment: Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation, 2013 - 2014, 2016
- Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers®: Super Lawyer: Employee Benefits, 2014 - 2016
- Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers®: Rising Star: Employee Benefits, 2013
Professional and Community Involvement
- Member, American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries
- District of Columbia
- J.D., The George Washington University Law School, with honors, 2003
- B.S., Pennsylvania State University, 1991