Exchange Enrollment Participants who lose their employer-sponsored health coverage will qualify for a special enrollment period in which to enroll in an Exchange plan outside of the Exchange’s annual open enrollment period. Participants have the same 60 days before or after losing the coverage to act on the special enrollment period. Exchanges must also provide special enrollment periods for loss of coverage due to a family member’s death or when an employer stops contributing to COBRA. The directed guidance that a special enrollment period is available when employer sponsorship of COBRA ends is particularly welcome since exchanges across the country have had inconsistent interpretations of whether this qualifies for a special enrollment period. Forms 5500 – No Extension for Calendar Year Plans The notice confirms that Form 5500 filing relief is provided in accordance with previously released IRS guidance. The prior guidance provides that filings otherwise due on or after April 1 and before July 15, 2020, are now due July 15, 2020. However, 5500s for calendar year ERISA plans are still due on July 31, 2020. No extension has been provided for these plans (other than the ability to file a regular Form 5558 Extension request). Administrative Challenges These relief measures will be welcomed by employers and participants alike as businesses and plan administration have been disrupted due to the COVID-19 emergency. However, administrative challenges will undoubtedly arise as plans and COBRA administrators work to implement the changes. Timing Uncertainty The guidance uses April 30, 2020 as an example end date for the national emergency (simply to illustrate the math on some of the calculations). There is uncertainty as to exactly when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, thus actual duration of the outbreak period is unknown at this time. Additional guidance will be issued if it is found to be necessary to apply different outbreak periods to specific parts of the county.
Relaxed Rules for Retirement Plan Administration
New Guidance The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has issued guidance extending retirement plan deadlines in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The guidance consists of:
1. Joint rule (between EBSA and the IRS) 2. Formal Notice
Outbreak Period Defined The “outbreak period” begins on March 1, 2020 and ends 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 national emergency or such other date as may be announced in a future notice when determining specified periods or dates. The outbreak period is to be disregarded in the calculation of all deadlines addressed in the guidance.
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