As an update to our November 2020 notice, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic the DOL and IRS issued rules (“Joint Notice”) that extended or paused certain timelines for employee benefit plans. The deadlines impacted are:
- Deadline for a plan to provide a COBRA election notice
- Deadline to elect COBRA coverage and make COBRA premium payments
- Deadline to elect HIPAA special enrollment
- Deadlines to file claims, appeals, and requests for external review
Under the Joint Notice, these timelines were temporarily paused from March 1, 2020, the effective date of the COVID National Emergency.
On February 26, 2021, the Department of Labor released EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01, which provides guidance on the Joint Notice and states that the impacted deadlines are extended until the earlier of (a) one year, or (b) the end of the Outbreak Period (60 days after the end of the National Emergency, which is ongoing). The extension begins on the date the clock for the particular deadline would have started running. In other words, the one-year extension is applied on a rolling basis to each deadline.
President Biden announced in February 2021 that the National Emergency is extended and will continue until further notice.