New documents impacting benefit plan administrators released

Good morning everyone. Yesterday, various government agencies released a number of new documents that impact – right now – the administration of benefit plans including:

  • Final regulations (U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service) – extending certain deadlines including (a) HIPAA special enrollment periods – e.g., deadline for a participant to add a new baby to a health plan; (b) COBRA enrollment periods – i.e., deadline for participants to elect COBRA coverage following a qualifying event; (c) COBRA premium payment deadline; and (d) claim and appeal deadlines under benefit plans.
  • EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 (issued in coordination with Treasury, the IRS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) – impacting (a) procedural requirements for retirement plan loans, distributions, plan amendments; (b) the timing of 401k deferrals and loan repayments; (c) blackout periods; (d) 5500s; and (e) M-1s.
  • DOL COVID-19 FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries – this guidance contains a series of FAQs telling plan participants of their rights during this period. Some very interesting guidance here.
  • A news release on the guidance package

We had not planned to do the Friday call tomorrow, but given how many rules and deadlines are immediately impacted by this new guidance, we will go ahead and do a call tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. and walk through the new provisions.


Coronavirus and employee benefits

Hi everyone. Thank you again for participating in our calls the past few weeks. I am very grateful to each of you.

New Retirement Plan Rule Coming Very Soon. I understand that final regulations expanding electronic disclosure for retirement plans have been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which is typically the final step before rules are formally published. As you may recall, last fall a proposed rule was issued that would permit retirement plan sponsors to satisfy disclosure requirements (e.g., 401(k) Summary Plan Description) by notifying participants and beneficiaries that the information will be made available on a website. Individuals would be able to elect paper disclosures and opt out of electronic delivery entirely, and plans could also continue to rely on the existing rules for electronic delivery – or furnish paper documents by hand-delivery or by mail. Although we do not know what, if any, changes have been made since the proposed rule, it is more important now than ever to have workable electronic disclosure rules due to the massive company shutdowns and social distancing required for COVID-19. Not only is it not possible right now for most companies to post notices in the workplace that will be seen by all employees, the service providers that companies hire to print and mail paper copies of notices are generally shut down as well. More to come on this – possibly very soon.

This Friday – Town Hall Discussion. I’ve already been receiving questions for this Friday’s town hall discussion. Thank you. This week we will go back to the normal format where we will answer questions and cover anything new that we’ve learned since last week. I will also provide some additional information about what other large employers are doing.

Opening Back Up the Workforce. Two things, first we are going to be releasing a survey later this week with questions for our clients to answer anonymously regarding what they plan to do to open back up their business (when, how, rotating shifts?, masks?, testing?, etc.). Then we will compile that into a format that we can share with you and our other clients. So, please look for the survey – probably on Friday. Second, in case you missed it, today we released a three-part webinar on Reopening the Workplace, in the wake of President Trump’s three-phased strategy. The first part is Dr. Milford, who you heard from last week. The second part deals with employment/HR considerations. The third part deals with employee benefits considerations. You can find these webinars on the right side of our webpage:

Thank you,