DOL and IRS Announce Extension of Time Frames for Benefit Plans in Puerto Rico Affected by Hurricane Maria

On Nov. 22, 2017, the DOL and the IRS announced an extension of time frames for group health plans, disability plans, pension plans, participants and beneficiaries of these plans, and group health insurance issuers directly affected by Hurricane Maria.

Group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans and health insurance issuers offering coverage under a group health plan must disregard the period from Sept. 17, 2017, through March 16, 2018, for such plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries, or claimants located in Puerto Rico when determining any of the following time frames:

  • The 30-day period (or 60-day period, if applicable) to request special enrollment
  • The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage
  • The date for paying COBRA premiums
  • The date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability
  • The date by which individuals may file a benefit claim under the plan's claims
  • The date by which claimants may file an appeal of an adverse benefit determination under the plan's claims procedure
  • The date by which claimants may file a request for an external review after receipt of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination
  • The date by which a claimant may file information to perfect a request for external review upon a finding that the request was not complete

With regard to group health plans that are directly affected by Hurricane Maria, the period from Sept. 17, 2017, through March 16, 2018, for those located in Puerto Rico must also be disregarded when determining the date for providing a COBRA election notice.

Several examples of time frames as they relate to group health plans are provided in the rules. As such, employers with plans and beneficiaries directly impacted by Hurricane Maria should ensure that these time periods are adjusted.

82 FR 55507 »