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On April 30, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration published a rule extending deadlines under Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code for group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans and participants and beneficiaries of these plans during the COVID-19 national emergency.

According to a DOL news release, the rule, jointly issued with the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service, extends certain time frames to ensure plan participants, beneficiaries and employers have additional time to make critical health coverage and other decisions affecting benefits from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the COVID-19 national emergency ends.

Additionally, the rule states laid-off plan participants and their beneficiaries will have until 60 days after the national emergency ends to secure alternative coverage through special enrollment in another group health plan, such as COBRA, the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid or CHIP. This rule provides additional time for participants and beneficiaries to make claims for benefits and appeal denied claims.

Along with the joint rule, the DOL issued EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01, which announced an extension of deadlines for furnishing other required notices or disclosures to plan participants, beneficiaries and other people, so plan fiduciaries and plan sponsors have additional time to meet their obligations under Title I of ERISA during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information, the DOL released a set of frequently asked questions on the rule and other health benefit and retirement benefit issues.

ABC will continue to provide updates on this rule and other agency actions in Newsline.