Employers will soon no longer be required to extend certain health and welfare benefit deadlines. On April 10, 2023, President Biden signed a joint resolution (H. Joint Resolution 7) to end the COVID-19 National Emergency. Previously, the President announced he would end the National Emergency on May 11, 2023.
End of the National Emergency and Outbreak Period
Starting March 1, 2020, participants have generally had an additional year to meet certain benefit plan deadlines. Now these extended deadlines are expiring after the end of the “Outbreak Period.” The question is, when is the end of the Outbreak Period? There is confusion about the end of the National Emergency on April 10, 2023, and the previous communication by the White House that the National Emergency would end on May 11, 2023.
In 2020, the Departments of Labor (DOL), the Department of Treasury, and the Internal Revenue Service (the “Departments”) issued the extended deadline relief, and in 2021 the DOL issued Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01. Both publications indicated that the end of the Outbreak Period would end 60 days after the end of the National Emergency or “such other date announced by the agencies in a future notification.”Subscribe
On March 29, 2023, the Departments issued FAQ Part 58, addressing questions about the end of the National and Public Health Emergencies. Their FAQ indicates the end of the National Emergency is May 11, 2023. According to the Departments in several informal forums, they indicate that May 11, 2023, remains the end of the National Emergency for purposes of the benefit extended deadlines. This date would end the Outbreak Period on July 10, 2023 (60 days after May 11, 2023). See our previous blog about the deadline timing.
Notably, the joint resolution only ended the National Emergency and not the Public Health Emergency, which is expected to end on May 11, 2023.
Notifications to Impacted Individuals
The DOL recently posted a blog addressing additional information, indicating that employers should “communicate key deadlines to impacted individuals in advance.” However, there is no mention of the communication requirements.
Employers should notify individuals whose benefit deadlines will be shortened by the end of the Outbreak Period (i.e., participants who will not have a full year to meet their deadline requirements). Plan sponsors should consult with their service providers, benefits consultants, and attorneys to determine when and how best to provide the notification.
Looking to the Future
Although these extended deadlines have been challenging to our industry, many participants have benefited from the additional time allowed for essential deadlines. It is promising that we are now in a place where these COVID-19 emergencies are expiring.
TRI-AD is assisting our clients with these deadlines and notifications. Please contact us with any questions.
TRI-AD and our Associates’ suggestions or recommendations shall not constitute legal advice. No content on our website can be construed as tax or legal advice and TRI-AD may not be considered your legal counsel or tax advisor. Clients are encouraged to consult with their tax advisor and/or attorney to determine their legal rights, responsibilities, and liabilities. This includes the interpretation of any statute or regulation, federal, state, or local; and/or its application to the clients’ business activities.