COVID-19 Compliance Alert
IRS & DOL Issue Joint Guidance Providing
Deadline Relief to Participants and Employers

The Department of Labor and the IRS have jointly issued guidance on the extension of certain timeframes of employee benefit plans, participants, and benefiiaries affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak. This joint guidance directs group health plans and group health insurers to disregard the period between March 1, 2020, and 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency (the “Relief Period”) when calculating specific plan related time periods (see below). 

As such, any of the following time periods that began before March 1 but did not expire prior to March 1 are extended until the end of the Relief Period, and the start date of any of the following time periods that would otherwise begin on or after March 1 is postponed until the end of the Relief Period: 

  • 30-day or 60-day time period to request special enrollment in a group health plan (e.g. when a spouse loses eligibility for coverage under another group health plan due to a termination of employment, layoff or furlough);
  • A group health plan claimant’s 4-month period to request external review or perfect an external review;
  • A Qualified Beneficiary’s 60-day period to elect COBRA; 
  • The Plan Administrator’s 14-day period for sending COBRA election notices; 
  • The 45-day period (initial premium) and 30-day (subsequent premiums) period for Qualified Beneficiaries to make COBRA premium payments. Specifically, plans and insurers may not deny coverage and may retroactively make payments for services and treatments received during the Relief Period once premiums are timely paid; 
  • A COBRA Qualified Beneficiary’s 60-day period to notify the Plan Administrator of a qualifying event (or second qualifying event) or a Qualified Beneficiary’s determination of disability;
  • The time period under the plan for a claimant to file a benefit claim (including the run-out period for Medical FSAs) and the 180-day period to file an appeal.

For Medical FSAs, we noted that no guidance is provided that would allow plan years to be extended, carryovers to be increased, or any changes made to elections. We have found the following FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries issued by the DOL to be most helpful.

Client Service Team
Group Dynamic, Inc.
Group Dynamic, Inc. |