The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) announced its Final Rule, issuing a 90-day delay to the applicability of the ERISA disability claims handling regulations (ERISA Regulation Amendments). The DOL’s Final Rule delaying the ERISA Regulation Amendments is set for official publication on Wednesday, November 29.
In response to concerns that the ERISA Regulation Amendments would escalate plan costs, increase litigation, and impair workers’ access to benefits, the DOL issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to reconsider these regulations, and in doing so, delayed the applicability of the ERISA Regulation Amendments for 90 days. The ERISA Regulation Amendments were originally scheduled to apply to disability claims filed on or after January 1, 2018. Per the DOL’s Final Rule, the ERISA Regulation Amendments are now applicable to claims filed on or after April 1, 2018. The DOL’s NPRM action is consistent with President Trump’s Executive Order 13771 to reduce regulations. ReedGroup provided information on the NPRM in October, which can be found here.
The DOL is seeking comment on the impact of the January 17, 2017, ERISA Regulation Amendments and the public has until December 11 to submit data and comments. After receiving these comments and data, the DOL will determine if there are regulatory alternatives other than those adopted in the ERISA Regulation Amendments and could consider possible revision or rescission of the ERISA Regulation Amendments.
What the DOL’s Final Rule to Delay Means
The applicability date of the ERISA Regulation Amendments has been delayed until April 1, 2018. This means that employers, disability plan sponsors, third party administrators (TPAs), carriers, and disability plan participants should continue to follow the ERISA regulations in place prior to the January 17, 2017, ERISA Regulation Amendments and do not need comply with the amended regulations until April 1, 2018. A further delay may occur; in the Final Rule delaying the ERISA regulations to April 1, 2018, the DOL stated that if it receives data and information supporting rescission, revision, or modification of the ERISA Regulation Amendments, the DOL may further delay the April 1, 2018, applicability date so that it can share the supporting information with the public and provide an opportunity for further comments.
Employers, disability plan sponsors, TPAs, carriers, and disability plan participants who would like to provide data, cost information, and other comments regarding the ERISA Regulation Amendments must submit comments on or before December 11, 2017, as follows:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
- Email: e-ORI@dol.gov. Include RIN 1210-AB39 in the subject line of the message.
- Mail: Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Room N-5655, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution 3 Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210, Attention: Claims Procedure for Plans Providing Disability Benefits Examination.
This delay and NPRM impacts ReedGroup’s clients with ERISA-governed disability plans. Accordingly, ReedGroup continues to monitor this NPRM as it progresses through the DOL’s regulatory process. We will discuss this and other agency actions, relevant case law, and leave laws effective January 1, 2018, at our upcoming webinar on Wednesday, November 29. Register for ReedGroup’s quarterly webinar here.