The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has just announced its decision that the final regulations on claims procedures for plans providing disability benefits will be applicable for claims filed after April 1, 2018. On November 24, 2017, the DOL first announced a 90-day delay of the applicability date of the final regulations (from January 1, 2018, through April 1, 2018) to give stakeholders the opportunity to submit data and information on the costs and benefits of the final rule. In a January 5, 2018, news release, the DOL stated that while it received approximately 200 comment letters on the final regulations, the comments did not establish that the final regulations “impose unnecessary regulatory burdens or significantly impair workers’ access to disability insurance benefits.”
Accordingly, plan fiduciaries will need to review claims for disability benefits filed after April 1, 2018, using the final regulations. These regulations impose additional requirements on fiduciaries of plans providing disability coverage in adjudicating claims and appeals. The final regulations cover employer-sponsored short- and long-term disability plans, as well as retirement plans providing disability benefits where the plan fiduciary, rather than the disability insurer or a third party, makes the determination of disability. For additional information on the new disability regulations, you may wish to refer to this Employee Benefits Client Alert that Epstein Becker Green published in October 2017.