Government Clarifies End of Benefit Plan Deadlines Due to COVID-19
On Friday, February 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance regarding the suspension of benefit plan deadlines during the "outbreak period". (See EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01).
This new guidance was necessary due to a provision of ERISA that states that the DOL and Treasury may “prescribe (by notice or otherwise) a period of up to one year that may be disregarded” [ERISA section 518 and Code section 7508A(b)]. That year ended on Feb. 28.
Essentially, the new guidance means that employers must apply the one-year limit on an individual-by-individual basis.
Here’s further reading:
- Government Clarifies End of Benefit Plan “Outbreak Period” | Warner Norcross + Judd (3/2/21)
- Suspended Deadlines Under ERISA, Part Two: Sound the Alarm! | Morgan Lewis (3/1/21)
- New Guidance from DOL Regarding the Suspension of Certain Employee Benefit Plan Deadlines Due to COVID-19 | Akerman (2/26/21)
- COVID-19 Deadline Extensions—No More Time Outs but No Single Deadline Either!! | JacksonLewis (2/26/21)
- DOL Issues Guidance on Outbreak Period Extensions – With 2 Days to Spare! | Groom Law Group (2/26/21)
One bit of welcome news for former employees: the “Obamacare” marketplace reopened on Feb. 15, 2021 for a 90-day period. It may provide people the opportunity to apply for health insurance in 36 states where HealthCare.gov is operated. [More details]