Employee benefit plan term extensions end

In April and May 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and IRS extended certain benefit plan deadlines, such as special health plan registration application deadlines, election deadlines COBRA and the payment of premiums, and deadlines for claims and appeals. This extension was intended to last for the duration of the “epidemic period”, which was defined as the period from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the announced end of the national COVID emergency. Although no end to the emergency has been announced, by law, agencies only have the power to extend deadlines. up to a year. As a result, the extension period for many deadlines has been set for February 28, 2021.

In response to the end of the extension, the DOL issued Advisory 2021-01, clarifying how various deadlines would be affected. These guidelines state that the extension will apply to plans and members on an individual basis by suspending each deadline until the earlier of the following dates: (1) one year from the date the plan or member has first qualified for relief, or (2) 60 days after the national COVID emergency was announced. For example, if a person had been required to opt for continuous COBRA coverage before April 1, 2020, they would now be required to choose such coverage before April 1, 2021 (one year after the original deadline). However, if a person had been required to choose COBRA continuation coverage before March 1, 2021, they would now be required to choose such coverage before March 1, 2022, or if earlier, 60 days after the end of the period of coverage. ‘epidemic.

In response to these changing deadlines, plan sponsors and administrators are required to act reasonably and in the best interests of employees and plan beneficiaries. This may require sending notices to people whose extended deadlines are approaching. Limited Partners and Directors may also need to review prior notices to ensure that they have communicated the end of the relief period. Finally, plan sponsors may want to inform plan members of other coverage options, if applicable.

© 2021 Varnum LLPRevue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 81

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