Donations for Hurricane Victims


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New Orleanians understand flooding all too well. Following Katrina, many of us landed in the Houston area. They sheltered us until we could return home and helped us get back on our feet. It’s time that we take care of our friends in Texas. With the devastation from Hurricane Irma following closely behind, it's time that we take care of our friends in Florida as well. While we don’t know the details of their needs yet, we know the devastation this historic flooding has brought, and may continue to bring, and how long it takes to recover. 


Donation Options

To Donate Through New Orleans Bar Foundation
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation through the New Orleans Bar Foundation. You can make a donation directly online at the top of this page or by check to New Orleans Bar Foundation. Proceeds will go to Hurricane victims in Texas and Florida, and a portion will go to victims in Southwest Louisiana.

650 Poydras St., Suite 1505
New Orleans, LA 70130

To Donate To The Red Cross
         Visit redcross.org
         Text HARVEY to 90999 to make an immediate $10 donation | Text IRMA to 90999 to make an immediate $10 donation
         Call 1-800-RED-CROSS


Volunteer Options

To Volunteer in Texas
Volunteer attorneys to answer hotlines are needed. Attorneys who would like to volunteer with legal aid in Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey can contact the State Bar of Texas and fill out this form at texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer.

To Volunteer in Houston
Those wishing to provide legal aid in Houston should contact portal.makejusticehappen.org.  After Labor Day, they can contact Brittany at Houston Volunteer Lawyers directly at 713-275-0140.

To Volunteer Pro Bono Hours
Those wishing to volunteer hours should visit texas.freelegalanswers.org, which affords a way by which Louisiana attorneys can volunteer Disaster Relief online pro bono hours from their home or office in Louisiana for those in need in Texas. Note: Attorneys must complete and return a Registration for Temporary Practice of Texas Law form in order to participate.

In Florida, the Florida Bar Association raised the income cap for Florida Free Legal Answers, to allow more victims of Hurricane Irma to utilize the online service.

For more information regarding hurricane information and volunteer efforts in Florida, click here.


The sole purpose of the program is to allow the legal community to reach out in meaningful and compassionate ways to judges, lawyers, court personnel, paralegals, legal secretaries and their families who experience a sudden catastrophic loss. For more information on the SOLACE program, click here.

 


 

Hardship Withdrawal and Loan Relief for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) have announced relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey who reside in the declared disaster areas and who would like to access their qualified employer plan assets to alleviate hardships caused by the storm. A list of these Texas counties may be found at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) link at https://www.fema.gov/disasters.

 

IRS Relief for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

The IRS relief relaxes the rules and verification requirements for making hardship distributions and loans from those qualified employer plans that are allowed to offer such options, even if a specific plan does not currently include authorizing language, if the plan is amended (see below).

Period of Relief – Hardship distributions and loans made on and after August 23, 2017 and no later than January 31, 2018 will qualify for this relief, if made in accordance with this guidance.

Qualified Employer Plan – This relief applies to a plan or contract meeting the requirements of Section 401(a), 403(a) or 403(b) which could offer participant loans or make hardship distributions if permitted by the plan document language. To make such hardship and/or loan relief available, the plan document must be amended no later than the end of the first plan year beginning after December 31, 2017.

Affected Individuals – These are individuals whose principal residence or place of employment, as of August 23, 2017, was located in one of the Texas counties listed under the FEMA link above. Also included are individuals who were not affected by Hurricane Harvey, but who have a lineal ascendant, descendant, dependent or spouse who had a principal residence or place of employment in one of the covered areas on that date.

Hardship Distribution Relief – Hardship distributions may be made by any plan that may otherwise permits these distributions. Plans that are not permitted to make such distributions under the Code or regulations may not offer them, such as a money purchase plan or a defined benefit plan. Such plans may only offer distributions from a separate account, if one exists, within the plan that contains either employee contributions or rollover amounts. In addition, the plan may not distribute earnings on elective contributions, qualified nonelective contributions (QNECs) in a Code Section 401(m) plan or qualified matching contributions (QMACs) in a Code Section 401(k) plan.

Hardship Distribution Relief includes the following:

 A hardship distribution may be taken for any hardship caused by Hurricane Harvey, not just for the reasons listed in the Code and regulations.

 There will be no required regulatory suspension of participant contributions to the plan after the distribution is taken (such as the 6-month suspension for a hardship distribution from a 401(k) plan).

 Plan administrators may rely on the representations of the participant as to the need for and amount of a hardship distribution, unless the plan administrator has actual knowledge to the contrary.

 The amount of the hardship distribution is limited to the maximum amount that would be permitted under the plan, Code and regulations.

 A hardship may be taken by a participant who lives outside of the disaster area to assist a son, daughter, parent, grandparent, or other dependent who lived or worked in the disaster area.

 The IRS 10% premature distribution penalty tax, which is generally applicable to participants who are under age 59 ½ (unless another IRS exception is satisfied) continues to apply and any amounts distributed that were not previously taxed will be taxable in the year of the distribution.

Participant Loan Relief – Participant loans must satisfy the requirements of Code Section 72(p) and the related regulations including the limits on the maximum loan amount and the maximum 5-year repayment period for general loans. Plans that do not currently allow for loans may offer them during the relief period, but must later be amended to allow them. A participant who lives outside of the disaster area may take a loan to assist a son, daughter, parent, grandparent, or other dependent who lived or worked in the disaster area.

Procedural Requirements Relaxed for Loans and Hardship distributions – A retirement plan (i.e., an “eligible retirement plan” under Code Section 402(c)(8)(B)) will not be treated as failing to follow procedural requirements for hardship distributions or loans merely because those requirements are disregarded for the period beginning on or after August 23, 2017 through January 31, 2018, if:

 the plan administrator makes a good faith, diligent effort under the circumstances to comply with the loan and hardship distribution requirements; and

 all required documentation for approval and processing is not available at the time the loan or distribution is requested, but the plan administrator makes a reasonable attempt to assemble it as soon as practicable. However, if the plan requires spousal consent for a loan or hardship distribution, that requirement continues to apply during the relief period.

Plan Amendment Deadline – For plans that do not currently permit hardship withdrawals and/or loans but, could offer these options if the plan language permitted, may offer these options to their participants as described above. However, the plan must be amended to permit these options no later than the end of the first plan year beginning after December 31, 2017. IRS Announcement 2017-11 Relief for Victims of Hurricane Harvey is available at: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/a-17-11.pdf.

 

DOL Relief for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

The DOL has announced relief for employee benefit plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), plan sponsors and service providers to such employers that, on August 23, 2017, were located in one of covered disaster areas as identified by FEMA at the link above, as follows:

Verification Procedures - The DOL is working with the IRS to provide relief regarding certain verification procedures for plan loans and hardship distributions. Additional information will be made available in the near future at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/employers-and-advisers/plan-administration-and-compliance/disaster-relief.

Remittance of Participant Contributions and Loan Repayments - The DOL will not enforce the timely remittance provision of ERISA, with respect to a temporary delay in forwarding these contributions or loan repayments, if the affected employers and service providers act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of employees to comply as soon as practical under the circumstances.

Blackout Notices - The regulations provide an exception to the timing for furnishing this notice when events beyond the reasonable control of the plan administrator prevent the notice from being furnished and the plan fiduciary documents this in writing. Since natural disasters are beyond the control of the plan administrator, the DOL will not, with respect to blackout periods affected by Hurricane Harvey, allege a violation of the blackout notice requirements solely because the fiduciary did not make the required written determination.

The DOL announcement of relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey is available at: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/ebsa/ebsa20170830.

To request a loan, participants may log on to their accounts through our website at www.abaretirement.com, call 800.348.2272 or submit a completed, signed Loan Request Form. If your plan does not currently allow for loans, please submit the Loan Request Form with a letter indicating that the participant is a Hurricane Harvey victim.

To request a hardship withdrawal, participants may submit a completed, signed Hardship Withdrawal Form. If your plan does not currently allow for hardship withdrawals, please include a letter indicating that the participant is a Hurricane Harvey victim.

Forms are available in the “Forms” section of our website at www.abaretirement.com