Division of Labor Points Important Steerage on COVID-19 Welfare Plan Extensions | Hodgson Russ LLP


On February 26, 2021, the Division of Labor (“DOL”) issued Catastrophe Discover 2021-01, conveying much-awaited and considerably shocking steerage on the extensions of COBRA, HIPAA particular enrollment and ERISA claims deadlines throughout the COVID-19 Outbreak Interval.   

Final April, the DOL and IRS issued a joint rule “disregarding” the interval from March 1, 2020 means of the date 60 days after the top of the coronavirus Nationwide Emergency (“Outbreak Interval”) for functions of calculating the deadlines for COBRA elections and premium funds, notifications of HIPAA particular enrollment occasions, and inside and exterior claims procedures.  (See our article right here).   

As a result of the utmost size of profit plan deadline extensions approved the CARES Act is one 12 months, uncertainty surrounded whether or not the welfare plan deadlines would begin operating once more on February 28, 2021.  

The DOL’s steerage now clarifies that the Outbreak Interval is ongoing and extensions are to be measured on a person--person foundation. Particularly, the aid ends the sooner of:

(a) 1 12 months from the date the particular person was first eligible for aid from a deadline; or

(b) 60 days after the introduced finish of the Nationwide Emergency.

The next examples will assist illustrate how this steerage works within the case of a COBRA election deadline extension:

  • Qualifying COBRA Occasions Earlier than March 1, 2020 – If a professional beneficiary’s (“QB”) 60-day COBRA election interval began January 5, 2020, her election deadline was delayed as March 1, 2020. The QB’s aid interval would finish February 28, 2021 (the lesser of 1 12 months or the top of the Nationwide Emergency) and she or he would have the remaining steadiness of her 60-day election interval – four days – to make an election.
  • Qualifying COBRA Occasions Between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021 – If a QB experiences a COBRA qualifying occasion on June 1, 2020 and receives all required notices, then normally she would have 60 days to make an election. This aid, nevertheless, delays the election interval for the lesser of 1 12 months or 60 days after the introduced finish of the Nationwide Emergency. Assuming the Nationwide Emergency doesn’t finish April 2, 2021, the QB’s 60-day election interval will start June 1, 2021.
  • Qualifying COBRA Occasions After February 28, 2021 – If QB’s election interval begins on August 1, 2021, her election deadline will likely be delayed the identical day, assuming the Nationwide Emergency stays in impact. Her one-year aid interval would finish July 31, 2022, and her 60-day election interval would begin August 1, 2022. Nonetheless, if the Nationwide Emergency is asserted over on October 1, 2021, QB’s aid interval would finish on November 30, 2021 (60 days after the top of the Nationwide Emergency), so her 60-day election interval would begin on November 31, 2021.

The DOL means that welfare plan directors notify affected individuals, and reissue or complement notices which might be now not correct in mild of this steerage. 

 

EBSA Catastrophe Reduction Discover 2021-01- https://www.dol.gov/websites/dolgov/information/ebsa/employers-and-advisers/planadministration-and-compliance/disaster-relief/ebsa-disaster-relief-notice-2021-01.pdf 



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