The IRS and DOL have announced additional relief for benefit plans affected by Hurricane Harvey. This relief applies to participants, beneficiaries, and plans whose plan administration and/or recordkeeping functions reside within the disaster area. This relief includes the following:
- The filing date for Form 5500 filings due on or after August 23, 2017 and before January 31, 2018 is automatically extended to January 31, 2018.
- The DOL will provide relief for certain plan loan and distribution verification procedures to be described in later guidance, provide enforcement relief for delays in forwarding participant contributions, and provide relief for failures to timely provide blackout notices for temporary plan restrictions caused by Harvey.
- The DOL requests welfare plans make reasonable accommodations for participants and beneficiaries who are unable to timely file benefit claims or make COBRA elections for the purposes of preserving coverage and providing benefits. The request for accommodation should also include appeals processes and payments for coverage. The DOL will also grant enforcement relief to welfare plans and insurance carriers where appropriate. There is no process to pre-emptively request relief, so plans may wish to document compliance issues caused by Harvey as a precaution.