Apr 30, 2020

Agencies Extend Benefit Plan Deadlines for Plan Sponsors and Participants Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Health Claims Photo

On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, the Department of Labor and IRS issued deadline relief and other guidance intended to help employee benefit plan sponsors and participants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency guidance:

  • Provides participants with additional time to request a special enrollment right, provide notice of a COBRA qualifying event, elect and pay for COBRA coverage, and file claims and appeals. Specifically, the guidance provides that the COVID-19 “outbreak period” beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending 60 days after the President announces the end of the COVID-19 emergency is to be disregarded for purposes of determining whether a participant has met these deadlines.
  • Extends the time for plans to furnish ERISA-required documents, such as summary plan descriptions, benefit statements, annual funding notices, and other notices and disclosures required by ERISA, so long as the plan fiduciary makes a good faith effort to furnish the documents as soon as administratively practicable. Good faith efforts for this purpose include the use of electronic communications such as email, text messages, and continuous access websites, as long as the plan fiduciary reasonably believes that participants will be able to access the electronic communications.
  • Includes helpful compliance assistance for plan sponsors on plan loans and distributions, participant contributions and loan repayments, blackout notices, and ERISA fiduciary responsibilities.

For more information about the specific relief available under this guidance, please contact your SGR Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Team.

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