Susan Whittaker Hughes

Associate

Cleveland
T 216.861.7841  |  F 216.696.0740
Susan Whittaker Hughes focuses her practice on providing exceptional employee benefits legal services to large employers. Her practice focuses on health and welfare benefit plan design and compliance. She has extensive knowledge of and experience with healthcare reform matters, having worked on Affordable Care Act issues since the law's execution. In addition, she has experience with qualified plans and executive compensation issues. Through cultivating strong client relationships, Susan develops a thorough understanding of the individual needs of her clients. This understanding, combined with her ability to balance the practical needs of clients with the creativity necessary in designing benefit plans and compliance initiatives, helps her craft tailored, employer-specific plans and solutions that address individual organizational needs.

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  • Counsels clients through all phases of Affordable Care Act compliance, including assessment and revision of plan structures and documentation to achieve market reform, employer shared responsibility, and tax reporting compliance.
  • Counseled client through a HIPAA Privacy and Security audit by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Guided client through the audit process, including establishment of a comprehensive HIPAA compliance scheme within a very aggressive timeframe. Drafted all documentation client needed to demonstrate that it was, and would continue to be, in compliance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security regulations. Remained mindful of client’s business operations and ensured that compliance documentation reflected HIPAA compliance within the client's actual operations.
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Experience

  • Counsels clients through all phases of Affordable Care Act compliance, including assessment and revision of plan structures and documentation to achieve market reform, employer shared responsibility, and tax reporting compliance.
  • Counseled client through a HIPAA Privacy and Security audit by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Guided client through the audit process, including establishment of a comprehensive HIPAA compliance scheme within a very aggressive timeframe. Drafted all documentation client needed to demonstrate that it was, and would continue to be, in compliance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security regulations. Remained mindful of client’s business operations and ensured that compliance documentation reflected HIPAA compliance within the client's actual operations.
  • Counseled several clients through HIPAA protected health information breach responses, including conducting fact-specific analyses of whether a HIPAA breach had occurred, identifying the appropriate remediation activities for a breach, and drafting notices to affected individuals and regulators.
  • Assisted client with complete redesign of employee benefit plans to accommodate complex business reorganization. Reorganization brought many different and new classifications of employees into one benefit structure. Redesign of benefit plan structure was completed while ensuring Internal Revenue Code and Affordable Care Act compliance.
  • Assisted client with preparing the application for and navigating the Department of Labor’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program to successfully obtain a "no action" letter.
  • Regularly provides employee benefits and ERISA expertise for the merger and acquisition activities of publicly held companies.    
  • Regularly negotiates significant third-party administrator and vendor service agreements on behalf of benefit plan sponsors to ensure statutory and regulatory compliance and to achieve effective and efficient benefit plan operations.

Memberships

  • Worldwide Employee Benefits (WEB) Network, Cleveland Chapter: Steering Committee Member
  • American Bar Association
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

Community

  • Greater Cleveland Partnership LEAD Program
  • Rockport Early Childhood Center Board Member

Services

Industries

Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • Ohio

Education

  • J.D., Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, 2008; Salutatorian; summa cum laude; Business Editor, Cleveland State Law Review
  • M.A., Political Science, Ohio University, 2003, summa cum laude
  • B.A., Political Science, Ohio University, 2002, Honors Tutorial College, summa cum laude