October 21, 2021

Volume XI, Number 294

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Joint Agency Guidance Extends COBRA and Other ERISA Deadlines

On May 4, 2020, the Department of Labor and Department of Treasury (the Departments) issued joint guidance requiring certain COBRA, HIPAA and ERISA deadlines be determined without regard to th e “Outbreak Period,” which began March 1, 2020, and will continue until 60 days after the COVID-19 national health emergency is formally declared to be over ( Joint Notice ).

The Joint Notice requires that plans disregard the Outbreak Period for purposes of the deadlines enumerated below:

COBRA-Related Deadlines

HIPAA-Related Deadlines

ERISA-Related Deadlines

In addition to the Joint Notice, the Department of Labor also issued Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01, which:

  • delays the notice and disclosure requirements under Title I of ERISA (except those covered by the Joint Notice) and blackout notice requirements;

  • provides relief for plan failures to follow proper loan verification procedures;

  • provides relief from the ERISA adequate security requirements for plans that adopt the CARES Act plan loan provisions (e.g., delayed loan repayment, increased plan loan limits);

  • provides relief for temporary delays in sending participant contributions and loan repayments to the plan; and

  • delays Form 5500 and Form M-1 deadlines with respect to filings due prior to July 15, 2020 (as previously extended by IRS Notice 2020-23).

Both the Joint Notice and the Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 will present unique challenges for employers administering ERISA plans, particularly because the Outbreak Period applies retroactively and it is unclear when the end of the Outbreak Period will occur and thus cannot yet be determined. The Departments continue to issue guidance which may change or evolve, therefore employers are encouraged to seek competent counsel with respect to these issues.

Copyright © 2021 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 128
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About this Author

Bruce Barth Benefits lawyer Robinson Cole
Partner

Bruce Barth, chair of the firm's Labor, Employment, Benefits + Immigration Group, as well as the firm’s Employee Benefits + Compensation Team, focuses his practice on the representation of employers and fiduciaries with respect to retirement and welfare benefits, executive compensation, and benefits issues in corporate transactions.

Employee Benefits

Bruce advises clients on the implications of tax, securities, labor, and other laws, including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Drawing from over 30 years of employee...

860.275.8267
Virginia E. McGarrity Benefits lawyer Robinson Cole
Partner

Virginia McGarrity is a member of the firm's Employee Benefits + Compensation Group, counseling employers, insurance carriers, and service providers on a wide range of complex employee benefits and executive compensation matters.

Retirement Plan Design and Administration

Virginia’s practice addresses a broad array of issues relating to the design, drafting, and operation of qualified and nonqualified defined benefit and defined contribution plans, including 401(k), profit-sharing, multiemployer, employee stock ownership and Section 403(b) and 457(b) plans of...

860.275.8291
Alisha Sullivan Employment lawyer Robinson Cole
Associate

Alisha Sullivan is a member of the firm's Employee Benefits + Compensation Group. She focuses her practice on counseling a wide range of clients on issues arising from the creation and administration of employee benefit plans, including all aspects of plan design and administration, adhering to ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, and other applicable laws, and plan compliance and correction issues.

Retirement Plan Design and Administration

Alisha's practice addresses a broad array of issues relating to the design, drafting, and operation of qualified and...

860.275.8360
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