The DOL issued EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 providing that the outbreak relief period noted below ends on the earlier of one year from the date an individual or plan was first eligible for relief (extension period) or the original outbreak period of 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency. As of the date of this writing, the COVID-19 National Emergency has not ended. If a deadline fell on March 1, 2020, it would be extended until February 28, 2021, (one year from March 1, 2020). However, if a deadline fell after March 1, 2020, the deadline would be extended to a date after February 28, 2021, because the extension is up to one year following the deadline or 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency, if earlier.
On March 13, 2020, former President Trump issued the Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak and by separate letter made a determination, under Section 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, that a national emergency exists nationwide beginning March 1, 2020, as the result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) issued a final rule that extends certain timeframes under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Internal Revenue Code (IRC) for group health plans, disability, and other welfare plans, pension plans, and participants and beneficiaries of these plans during the COVID-19 national emergency. The timing extensions are issued to help alleviate problems faced by health plans to comply with strict ERISA and IRC timeframes and problems faced by participants and beneficiaries in exercising their rights under health plans during the COVID-19 national emergency. The final rule provides the timeframe extensions based on the end date of the “national emergency” (as of the date of this publication, the national emergency end date has not been announced) and the end date of the “outbreak period” which is the 60th day after the end of the national emergency. Under DOL guidance, the end of the outbreak period is the earlier of February 28, 2021, or 60 days after the announced end of the national emergency. Under EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01, the end of the outbreak period relief is the earlier of one year from the date they were first eligible for relief (extension period) or the original outbreak period of 60 days after the announced end of the national emergency. Under the final rule the outbreak period will be disregarded, meaning the timeframes for the group health plan requirements noted below will not begin to run until after the outbreak period has ended.
Download the full Compliance Advisor for information about:
- HIPAA special enrollment periods
- Claims procedures
- External review process
- Plan administrator/fiduciary obligations regarding the end of the outbreak period