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Benefits Overseer Expands Virus-Related Filing Relief

April 29, 2020, 4:35 PM

The Employee Benefits Security Administration is relaxing various filing rules to keep companies in compliance during the global pandemic.

The latest notice (2020-01) covers a range of retirement plan-related changes woven into the $2 trillion stimulus deal. It also builds on other government initiatives implemented since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Updated policies include:

  • Disclosure deadlines: plan providers whose communications have been disrupted by the virus have until 60 days after the national emergency ends to provide overdue benefit statements to employees as long as administrators “act in good faith and furnish the notice, disclosure, or document as soon as administratively practicable under the circumstances.” Acceptable delivery methods include email, text messages, and updated websites.
  • Plan loans: virus-related verification failures will be forgiven as long as administrators made a good-faith effort to comply with the new stimulus law and benefits providers make a “reasonable attempt to correct any procedural deficiencies.” EBSA notes that this relief doesn’t apply to spousal consent rules.
  • Amendments: retirement plans have until 2022 to adopt changes allowing coronavirus-related emergency withdrawals and expanded 401(k) loans.
  • Participant contributions/loan repayments: submission deadlines and enforcement actions are temporarily relaxed for virus-related delays as long as administrators “comply as soon as administratively practicable under the circumstances.”
  • Blackout notices: 30-day advance notice requirement is waived due to “events beyond the reasonable control of the plan administrator.”
  • Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements documents: M-1 filing deadline is pushed to July 15 to sync with prior pension plan relief.

To contact the reporter on this story: Warren Rojas in Washington at wrojas@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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