WL Benefits Group, Inc. Announced as New Name for WestLake Financial Group, Inc.

WL Benefits Group Deepens Focus on Benefits Technology for Mobile Devices

BUFFALO GROVE, IL (PRWEB) December 18, 2014 – WestLake Financial Group, Inc., a leader in benefits administration technology, brokerage services and human resources consulting is proud to announce its new name: WL Benefits Group, Inc.
The renaming and re-branding follow a period of expansion for the company, including a new website and visual identity.

The announcement comes as the company has enjoyed great recent successes, including a number of new client acquisitions and being named one of Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For™. Clients are coming to WL Benefits Group for their professionalism and personal client assistance, along with their cutting edge technology and solutions.

“After over 23 years in the industry, we felt as a company that our name did not properly reflect our mission and solutions,” said Founder and CEO Paul Burt. “We provide full benefit administration and online enrollment technology in addition to fulfilling clients’ TPA, brokerage, FSA and COBRA needs. The name WL Benefits Group, Inc. distinguishes us in our field and provides a more unique and memorable experience.”
The WL Benefits logo was designed to represent the company’s unique approach to technology-based benefits solutions and the personal touch it provides to clients.

“This is an exciting time for the company,” said President Christopher Clemmensen. “We have evolved tremendously since 1991 and our new name and brand identity reflect this new chapter for the firm. WL Benefits Group is expanding organically and through acquisitions to be a leader in mobile on-boarding technologies as we continue to distinguish ourselves as a company.”

About WL Benefits Group, Inc.

Established in 1991, WL Benefits Group is a recognized leader in HR consulting and employee benefits technology services. By utilizing technology and personalized expertise to provide clients with web-based solutions, claims administration, broker and consulting services, third party administration, and US-based call center support, WL Benefits enables clients to focus on core human resource activities. For more information, visit the WL Benefits Group website www.WLBenefitsGroup.com or call 1-888-937-8525.

Paul J. Burt Named to Board of Directors of Lake Forest Police Foundation

Burt One of Five Founders of New Non-Profit Organization

Lake Forest, IL (PRWEB) October 09, 2014 – Paul J. Burt, Founder and CEO of WestLake Financial Group, Inc. and co-founder of CERA Solutions, has recently helped found the Lake Forest Police Foundation, along with four other Lake Forest residents. He has also been named to the Board of Directors of the Foundation. Paul has been a Lake Forest, Illinois resident since 1991.

In recent years, the city’s general revenue has halted its growth while salaries and benefits continue to rise. Currently, about 85 percent of the annual police budget goes toward salaries and benefits. Because of this, there is less room in the budget for the continuation of certain programs such as the Rape Aggression Defense program offered for female residents and college students. Other programs that have been cut include a bicycle safety program for children and a police department awards function.

The goal of the Lake Forest Police Foundation is to generate funds for those programs through fundraising efforts.

“As city budgets continue to dwindle it is imperative that we continue to provide our police department with the tools and resources they need to protect our community,” said Paul J. Burt. “I am honored to join forces with a passionate team of Lake Forest business leaders to fill the gap and make sure our police force has what they require to meet the needs of the city of Lake Forest.”

The Lake Forest Police Foundation would also support upgrades in police equipment and technology. Police vehicles are equipped with defibrillators; however the devices are 13 years old. There is a dire need for an upgrade, but no space in the budget.

The Lake Forest Police Foundation plans to hold its first fundraiser this spring. Complete with donated food and drink from local vendors, the event assures to be an unforgettable night that greatly impacts the safety and well being of the Lake Forest Community.

About WestLake Financial Group, Inc.

Established in 1991, WestLake Financial is a recognized leader in HR consulting and employee benefits technology services. By utilizing technology and personalized expertise to provide clients with web-based solutions, claims administration, broker and consulting services, third party administration, and call center support, WestLake enables clients to focus on core human resource activities. For more information on WestLake and the services they offer, please visit www.westlakefinancialgroup.com

About CERA Solutions

CERA Solutions, LLC. specializes in emerging technologies with a focus on tablet and mobile computing applications. Taking the name from the ancient Roman wax covered tablets, called “Tablulae Cera,” that were used to record important transactions, CERA develops solutions for Apple and Android devices as well as wearable technologies, including Google Glass, to mobilize Fortune 1000 organizations. For more information on CERA Solutions please visit www.cerasolutions.com.

About the Lake Forest Police Foundation

The Lake Forest Police Foundation was formed as a 501(c)3 organization in 2014 to support the important work of the Lake Forest Police Department through the donation of funds, services and goods. The Foundation supports programs, initiatives and projects that are strategically focused to complement the Department’s policing strategies and ensure the highest level of police service to the Lake Forest community. For more information on the Lake Forest Police Foundation, please visit www.lakeforestpolicefoundation.com

Paul J. Burt Inducted into Lumen Institute

Burt to Join Corporate Leaders in Prestigious Faith-Based Organization

BUFFALO GROVE, IL – (July 7, 2014) – WestLake Financial Group, Inc., a recognized leader in voluntary benefits, human resources consulting, and employee benefits technology is proud to announce its Founder and CEO, Paul J. Burt, has been inducted into the esteemed Lumen Institute.

Lumen Institute is a Christian association of like-minded business and cultural leaders that has identified three specific areas where it seeks to strengthen its members: Character, Faith, and Leadership. The primary goal of the Lumen Institute is to help business leaders and members of Lumen to know what is truly best for them and their teams. This would include acquiring the habits of truth, goodness, beauty, and unity in business and personal life. Through Lumen, members strengthen their integrity of thought and action and become one person of character inside and out.

Paul is excited to deepen his faith through his involvement with Lumen. He will have the opportunity to participate in many activities including Leadership Circles, Spiritual Coaching Sessions, and an annual National Retreat, among others. “I have met like minded leaders with faith based leadership philosophies…and have gained friends, learned skills, and deepened my understanding of God’s message regarding the mentoring and leadership of others through my Lumen relationships,” said Paul J. Burt, CEO of WestLake Financial Group, Inc. and co-founder of CERA Solutions. “This is exactly what I was looking for”

Lumen places a high priority on each member actively working to round out their personal development by giving back to the community. Paul is extremely involved with the American Heart Association. Operating as the Event Chair for the recent Heart Ball in Chicago, he spearheaded the largest fundraiser in the history of the event, raising $2.6 million to save lives.

About WestLake Financial Group, Inc.

Established in 1991,WestLake is a recognized leader in HR consulting and employee benefits technology services. By utilizing technology and personalized expertise to provide clients with web-based solutions, claims administration, broker and consulting services, third party administration, and call center support, WestLake enables clients to focus on core human resource activities. For more information on WestLake and the services they offer, please visit www.westlakefinancialgroup.com.

About CERA Solutions

CERA Solutions, LLC. specializes in emerging technologies with a focus on tablet and mobile computing and applications. Taking the name from the ancient Roman wax covered tablets, called “Tablulae Cera,” that were used to record important transactions, CERA develops solutions for Apple and Android devices as well as wearable technologies, including Google Glass, to mobilize Fortune 1000 organizations. For more information on CERA Solutions please visit www.cerasolutions.com.

About Lumen Institute

Lumen Institute is an organization that provides highly personalized formation for leaders in corporate American including guiding, training, and educating each member in an integral way. The primary goal in guiding each member is to know what is truly best for him or her. This would include acquiring the habits of truth (in business and personal life), goodness (in thought and action), beauty (in respecting created things) and unity (by being one person of character inside and out). For more information on Lumen Institute please visit www.lumeninstitute.org.
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Janet & Paul Burt Raise Record Donations For Chicago Heart Ball

Burt Raises National Record of $2.6 Million as Chair of 2014 Heart Ball
Buffalo Grove, Illinois, June 12, 2014 – WestLake Financial Group, Inc., a recognized leader in voluntary benefits, HR consulting, and employee benefits technology is pleased to announce the record breaking results of the 2014 American Heart Association’s Chicago Heart Ball. Paul J. Burt, founder and CEO of WestLake Financial Group and co-founder of Cera Solutions, along with his wife, Janet, were the chairs of this year’s event.

For over 31 years the Heart Ball has been one of the premier fundraising events in Metro Chicago, bringing together corporate and community leaders for an inspirational evening of dinner, dancing, entertainment and live and silent auctions in support of the American Heart Association.

Cardiovascular disease takes the life of one person every 39 seconds in the US, and is the cause of death of 36% of Americans who pass each year. Since 1949, the AHA has invested over $3.3 Billion in heart research, and right now is investing more than $13.7 Million in Chicago area research studies to cure heart disease and stroke.

This year, through the efforts of Paul and Janet Burt along with the Heart Ball Executive Leadership Team made up of corporate executives from across the region, the Chicago Heart Ball raised $2.6 million. This record-breaking amount puts Chicago in the lead for money raised at a Heart Ball event across the country.

“We are honored to have been selected by the American Heart Association to lead such a great group of corporate leaders and luminaries to a record-breaking event for the AHA,” said Paul J. Burt, CEO of WestLake Financial Group, Inc. “The money raised will go to support the American Heart Association’s mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.”

Congenital heart defects affect eight out of every 1,000 infants born each year, and the AHA funds more research on children’s heart disease than any organization outside of the federal government.

“The Chicago Heart Ball celebrates a cause very close to our own hearts. Our ten year old daughter, Sophia, was diagnosed with congenital heart disease in 2006, and survived open heart surgery in 2010,” said Janet Burt. “Sophia shared her personal story at last year’s event, thanking the crowd for their support and encouraging their continued participation in AHA fundraising activities.”

About WestLake Financial Group, Inc.

Established in 1991, WestLake is a recognized leader in HR consulting and employee benefits technology services. By utilizing technology and personalized expertise to provide clients with web-based solutions, claims administration, broker and consulting services, third-party administration and call center support, WestLake enables clients to focus on core human resource activities. For more information on WestLake and the services they offer, please visit www.westlakefinancialgroup.com

About Cera Solutions

CERA Solutions, LLC. specializes in emerging technologies with a focus on tablet and mobile computing and applications. Taking its name from the ancient Roman wax covered tablets, called “Tablulae Cera”, that were used to record important transactions, CERA develops solutions for Apple and Droid devices as well as wearable technologies, including Google Glass, to mobilize Fortune 1000 organizations. For more information on CERA Solutions please visit www.cerasolutions.com.

About The American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, the organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters working tirelessly to eliminate these diseases. The AHA funds innovative research, fights for stronger public health policies and provides lifesaving tools and information to save and improve lives. For more information about the Chicago Heart Ball visit: http://chicagoheartball.ahaevents.org

Higher Limits for HSA Contributions and Deductibles in 2015

Whether you have an established high-deductible health plan (HDHP) at your organization – or such a move is under consideration, it is important to note that the Internal Revenue Service has announced higher limits on contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) and for out-of-pocket spending under linked high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) starting in 2015.

Contribution & Out-of-Pocket Limits for HSAs and for HDHPs
20142015
HSA contribution limit (employer AND employee)Individual: $3,300  
Family: $6,550
Individual: $3,350
Family: $6,650
HSA catch-up contributions (age 55 or older) Catch-up contributions can be made any time during the year in which the HSA participant turns 55.$1,000$1,000 (no change)
HDHP minimum deductiblesIndividual: $1,250
Family: $2,500
Individual: $1,300
Family: $2,600
HDHP maximum out-of-pocket amounts (deductibles, co-payments and other amounts, excluding premiums)Individual: $6,350
Family: $12,700
Individual: $6,450
 Family: $12,900

Reference Guide: Employer Mandate Revisions

 

Previous

Mandates

Newest

Mandates

What time frame is used to determine the size of an employer? To determine the size of an employer, refer to a consecutive 12 month period To determine the size of an employer, refer to a consecutive 6 month period
When will an employer be subject to the compliance of the employer mandate? All mid and large size employers must comply to the employer mandate by January 1, 2015. An employer will be subject to the employer mandate, given the final revisions, at the time their plan year begins in 2015 for large employers and 2016 for mid-size employers.
What methods are allowed to determine affordable healthcare coverage? Safe harbors permit employers to use W-2 forms, hourly wages, and the poverty line to determine affordability Previous methods remain, however, as clarification, full W-2 wages must be used, which include any employee salary reductions contributed to 401(k) or cafeteria plans.
How do employers determine full-time employee eligibilty? A full-time, eligible employee is anyone who works at least 30 hours per week in the previous year. Previous methods remain, however, clarification revisions were made. Volunteer workers, seasonal workers, and students in work-study programs are NOT considered full-time. Adjunct faculty must be credited 21/4 hours per week for each hour of teaching and 1 hour per week for each additional hour of out-of-classroom work to determine status. No other revisions were made addressing short term employees or those in high-turnover positions.
In the case of a rehire, how does coverage apply? If you rehire an employee to work full-time, they must be offered coverage within 90 days of hire. If the rehire is to work variable hours and their return is within 26 weeks of their departure, the employer must offer coverage within 90 days and continue to cover the employee until the end of the standard plan year. However, they will also immediately start on a new employee measurement period, which if not satisfied by the time open enrollment ends for the next plan year, the employer does NOT need to extend coverage for that year. All previous requirement remain, EXCEPT, if the rehire is to work variable hours and their return is within 13 weeks of their departure, the employer must offer coverage within 90 days and continue to cover the employee until the end of the standard plan year.

 

pdf_downloadReference Guide_Employer Mandate Revisions

 

 

Pay it or Play it: Preparation Not Procrastination

All employers with 50 or more full-time employees will need to make a decision in January 2015 whether they are going to “pay or play.” Preparing now can be crucial to ensuring you make the right decision for your organization and avoid unwelcome surprises come 2015. As you make your decision, take a careful look at these three key areas:

 

1.) Affordability:

Health coverage is affordable from an employer when an employee’s premiums do not exceed 9.5% of the employee’s a.) W-2 Form, wages from that employer, b.) monthly wages equal to the hourly rate of pay X 130 hours or the employee’s monthly salary, or c.) the federal poverty line for a single individual.

These premiums are those paid on a minimum value, lowest cost coverage plan. To qualify as minimum value, a plan must pay at least 60% of the total allowed costs stated under the plan. Employers can use 3 methods to determine minimum value:

1.) IRS generated minimum value calculator,
2.) Safe Harbor Checklist,
3.) Actuarial certification.

2.) Full-time status:

Many tax penalties will occur because of the lack of quality systems that clearly differentiate eligible from ineligible employees. A full-time, eligible employee is anyone who works at least 30 hours per week in the previous year. Therefore, employee hours in 2014 will affect how much liability your company will face once the employer mandate takes effect next year. Benefits Lawyer, Peter Marathas, says that “employers should be working with payroll and HRIS vendor now to create systems that will flag hours employees work and maintain them in a form that will be suitable for use to prove to the government” (ebn, 2014).

3.) Non-discrimination:

Double checking eligibility can benefit both you and your employees. Employers can use a standard measurement period (SMP) between 3-12 months for ongoing employees in order to define full-time status based on hours worked during that period. On going employees are those which have been employed for at least one complete SMP and have worked an average of 3o hours per week during the stability period. The stability period, subsequent to the SMP and usually the same length, must be at least 6 months long and no shorter than the SMP. Employers can vary the SMP as long as the changes are consistent for all employees under the same category of employment. For example, if an employee is determined a full-time employee during an SMP of 6 months, then he/she must be treated as full-time for the duration of the next 6 months (stability period) even if they work less than the required 30 hours per week.

**Hint: Remember, even if you are part of controlled group with another company, both of the companies are combined to determine if they collectively qualify as a large employer. If so, both of you would be subject to the pay-or-play penalties. However, any tax penalty amount will be individually issued and assessed.

Still having trouble deciding whether paying or playing is right for your company? The following questions can help you start thinking about certain ramifications of both the paying and playing decision.

Pay_or_Play_decision_making

 

Online Health Exchange for Small Businesses Delayed

Online Health Exchange for Small Businesses Delayed Until November 2014

An HHS official confirmed today that the online health exchange for small businesses is being delayed until late 2014. The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP Exchange, was developed to give small businesses a simpler and more efficient way to buy insurance coverage for their workers – and small businesses will still have the option to purchase coverage through the new marketplace but will not be able to do so online. Until November 2014, employers with fewer than 50 workers will need to work through a broker or agent to buy health plans for their employees.

With this new delay, small businesses will likely see little change in the way they purchase health insurance until 2015. They will, however, need to use the SHOP exchange if they want to access a health law tax credit available to employers with fewer than 25 employees. That tax credit first became available in 2010 regardless of where a company purchased coverage. Beginning in 2014, companies will need to buy through the marketplace to continue receiving that financial assistance, worth as much as 50 percent of their workers’ premiums.

This federal delay effects the 36 states where the federal government is running the health insurance exchange. It does not change the small business options in the 14 states and the District of Columbia that are running their own exchanges.

Quick Reference for IRS-Issued Notice Concerning FSAs

What has changed?
On October 31, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2013-71 providing that a cafeteria plan may allow up to $500 of a participant’s balance at the end of the plan year to be carried over into the next plan year and used for eligible medical expenses incurred during that next plan year.

Is the change mandatory?
The change announced in Notice 2013-71 is optional. Cafeteria plans are not required to permit this carryover.

What are the implications if my organization does decide to permit the $500 carry over?
This change does not affect the maximum amount that may be contributed by a participant to an FSA for a plan year and does not reduce the participant’s maximum FSA contribution for the next plan year. Therefore, a participant who carries over $500 from Year 1 to Year 2 and contributes $2,500 to his or her FSA for Year 2 could receive reimbursements for up to $3,000 of eligible medical expense during Year 2 from his or her FSA.

What does my organization need to do in order to make this change?
A plan may not offer a participant the option to carry over an unused amount and allow a grace period. In order for a participant to be able to carry over unused amounts, any grace periods must be removed from the existing plan and the plan must then be amended to permit a carryover.

Grace Periods:
Plan sponsors who currently offer a grace period will need to decide whether the grace period or the carryover option is a more desirable plan design. If the carry over option is more desirable, then the grace period provision must be removed prior to permitting carryovers.

Amendments to Existing Plans:
Plans are not required to adopt either the carryover option or a grace period option. However, if your organization wants to permit carryovers, the grace period must be removed (if present) from the existing plan and then the amendment allowing a participant to carry over up to $500 of unused amounts must be adopted on or before the last day of the plan year from which unused amounts are to be carried over. So, your plan needs to be formally amended by December 31, 2014, if the carryover option is being adopted for 2014 for a calendar year plan – or any time before the last day of the plan year that begins in 2014 to permit carryover of amounts from a plan year beginning in 2013.

CEO Paul J Burt to Serve as Panelist at Restore Illinois Summit

Paul J. Burt and Congressman Randy Hultgren to Participate in Session Evaluating PPACA

November 1, 2013 (Buffalo Grove, Illinois) – Paul J. Burt, CEO of WestLake Financial Group, Inc., along with Congressman Randy Hultgren of the 14th district of Illinois will participate in a session evaluating the implications of PPACA at the first annual Restore Illinois Summit. The summit, hosted by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, will include sessions across a myriad of topics – including social media, technology, and healthcare reform. The summit will take place at the Donald E. Stephens Rosemont Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, on Saturday, November 2.

Paul J. Burt, an expert in technology and benefits administration, founded WestLake Financial Group, Inc. in 1991. A pioneer in the field of human resources outsourcing and benefits administration, Burt redefined the delivery of benefit information to employees through WestLake’s cutting edge technology and value-added services. Burt’s insightful leadership and ideas have propelled WestLake Financial Group to the top tier of benefit technology, consulting, fthird party administration and brokerage services for mid to large organizations nationwide. In 2004, Burt was inducted into the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, in recognition for his entrepreneurial achievements and lasting impact on Chicago’s business landscape.  Burt is the corporate chair of the 2014 American Heart Association’s Chicago Heart Ball.

WestLake Financial Group, Inc.

Recognized as a leader in benefits administration for over 24 years, WestLake Financial Group, Inc. delivers leading edge solutions and programs to human resources professionals. A pioneer in internet-based benefits solutions, WestLake Financial Group has saved clients between 20% to 40% of their combined HR administrative time. Through the introduction of Dependent Eligibility Verification Audits, Spousal Disincentive Administration, Tobacco User Disincentive Administration, and other innovative programs, WestLake Financial Group assists clients in reducing costs while maintaining superior quality. For more information on WestLake’s full spectrum of benefit administration services, visit westlakefinancialgroup.com.