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Law Professional

P: (317) 238-6281
F: (317) 636-1507

Indianapolis Office
One Indiana Square
Suite 2800
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2079

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Practice and Industry Teams

Deborah C. McNear


Ms. McNear concentrates her practice in the area of employee benefits and executive compensation. She advises both governmental and private-sector employers, plans, fiduciaries and service providers and investment advisors concerning qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, cafeteria plans, health reimbursement arrangements and executive compensation plans. Her practice includes complex plan drafting; advice on plan administration and plan compliance, including correction of administrative errors under the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System ("EPCRS") and the Department of Labor Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program ("VFCP"); controlled and affiliated service group analysis for both for-profit and tax-exempt employers; advice concerning and oversight of nondiscrimination and coverage testing for qualified, 403(b), 125 and self-funded group health plans; regulatory compliance including fee disclosure, participant disclosures, , HIPAA nondiscrimination, privacy and security rules, COBRA continuation coverage rules, ERISA mandates for group health plans and Medicare Secondary Payer requirements; assistance with designing effective health reimbursement account and health savings account programs; and analysis of application of regulations to wellness programs and on-site medical clinics. She has also worked with employers as they work to determine how to comply with the pay-or-play aspects of the Affordable Care Act and the best means to do so without violating the ERISA 510 prohibitions on benefit interference and the whistleblower provisions of the ACA.

She has worked with a broad range of employers in the design and implementation of profit sharing, 401(k), defined benefit (including 401(h) accounts), new comparability (i.e. "cross-tested"), money purchase, employee stock ownership and cafeteria plans. She has worked with corporate trustees, investment advisors and plan sponsors to put in place best-practices to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities both under ERISA and, if applicable, state law. She also works as counsel to buyers and sellers in mergers and acquisitions as those transactions relate to employee benefit matters, including analysis of exposure to withdrawal liability with respect to multiemployer plans. She is a member of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group and the Education and School Law Service Group. She is also a long-time member of the American, Indiana and Indianapolis Bar Associations and the Indiana Benefits Conference (past chair).

Representative Experience

  • Worked with client acquiring another entity which doubled the size of the client's business and which required extensive due diligence on employee benefit matters, particularly as they related to the five different union single and multiemployer retirement plans 
  • Negotiated with the Internal Revenue Service to allow an employer to retroactively amend a 401(k) plan to conform to the administration of the plan rather than correct an operational failure by contributing over $1 million to the plan for five plan years of failure
  • Successfully argued against the IRS position that a partial plan termination had  occurred several years before an ESOP's plan termination, thus avoiding retroactive 100 percent vesting of terminated participants' accounts which had already been forfeited
  • Worked with large government plans sponsor to submit its plans to the IRS for favorable determination letters
  • Worked with government agency to craft legislative language relative to a new benefit plan and draft rules related to the administration of the plan
  • Work with charter school and its charter management organizations to implement employee benefit plans for charter school teachers and other staff


  • Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, Indiana (J.D., cum laude)
  • Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

Bar Admissions

  • Indiana
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

Professional Associations

  • Indiana Benefits Conference (member, past Chairperson and board member)
  • Indiana Bar Association
  • Indianapolis Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • National Association of Public Pension Attorneys

Seminars and Presentations

  • Deciding Whether to “Pay or Play” What Employers Need to Consider When Deciding Whether to Pay the Penalty or Provide Affordable Care Act Compliant Coverage
  •  What to Do if Deciding to Play: Strategies for Providing Affordable Care Act Compliant Coverage
  • Health Care Reform for Small Employers: What Small Employers Need to Do to Comply With the Affordable Care Act
  • Employer Mandate in 2014 – Are You Ready? What if I Reduce My Employees to Part-Time Status to Avoid the Mandate?
  • Nondiscrimination Testing for Health Plans
  • Single Employer Pension Plan Funding and Deduction Issues in the Pension Protection Act of 2006
  • Enhancements to Individual Retirement Accounts under the Pension Protection Act of 2006
  • Retirement Plan Provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001
  • Plan Filings and Participant Communications
  • EGTRRA Remedial Amendment Period
  • Mandatory Rollovers in Qualified Plans
  • USERRA Update
  • Roth 401(k) and Roth 403(b) Plans