Fees on schedule deadlines extended again due to COVID-19
Fees on schedule deadlines extended again due to COVID-19

Fees on schedule deadlines extended again due to COVID-19

On February 18, President Joe Biden again
formally extended COVID-19 National Emergencywhich was set to expire on 1 March 2022. This latest extension means that the following deadlines continue to be charged for one year (or, if earlier, 60 days from the end of the national emergency).

Each national emergency declaration generally lasts for one year, unless the President announces an earlier termination. Once the one-year term is over, the President may extend the declaration, generally for another one-year term.

President Donald Trump first declared the national emergency on March 1, 2020. On February 24, 2021, President Biden extended the national emergency. Most recently, it was unclear whether President Biden would extend it again, because although many stakeholders requested a new extension, the Biden administration is also facing some political pressure to move the country out on a “from-ramp” from COVID- 19 pandemic (provided COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline). It is therefore possible that President Biden may end the national emergency in the coming months. Stay tuned for further development.

The Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) take the position that the tax period applies on a person-to-person basis. It can be challenging to track these deadlines when the tax period applies, so plan administrators should make sure they calculate the deadlines correctly.

For participants:


  • Announcements on the extension of COBRA qualifying events and disabilityThe 60-day time limit within which qualified beneficiaries must notify the plan of certain qualifying events (eg divorce or separation, a dependent child who ceases to be dependent according to the terms of the plan) or disability provision.

  • COBRA selection –60-day deadline to select COBRA continuation coverage.

  • COBRA Premium Payments –45-day (for the first payment) and 30-day (for subsequent payments) deadlines for timely payment of COBRA premiums.

  • HIPAA Special Enrollment Period –The deadline of 30 days (in some cases 60 days) to apply for enrollment in a group health scheme after a special enrollment event (ie birth, adoption or placement for adoption of a child, marriage, loss of other health coverage, or eligibility for state premium support).

  • Performance requirements and appeals –The time limit under the plan within which participants may file a claim for benefits (under the terms of the plan) and the time limit for appealing against an unfavorable benefit decision.

  • External review –The 4-month period (for the federal external audit process; this period may be different for a state external audit process) for a plaintiff to file a request for external review.

  • Perfection of a request for external review – The 4-month period (or 48 hours after receipt of an incomplete request notification, if later) for a plaintiff to perfect an incomplete request for external review.

For plan administrators:


  • COBRA Election Announcement –The 14-day deadline (44 days where the employer is the plan administrator) for a plan administrator to provide a COBRA election notice to qualified beneficiaries.

Note that this national emergency declaration differs from the Public Health Emergency Declaration (PHE) issued by the Minister of HHS, which is linked to the COVID-19 test requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

The PHE is set to expire on April 16, 2022, however, the Secretary may extend the PHE Declaration for subsequent 90-day periods as long as the PHE continues to exist and may terminate the Declaration once the Secretary determines that the PHE has ceased to exist.

In a letter to state governors in January 2021, the acting secretary noted that HHS will give states 60 days notice before concluding the declaration.


Groom Law Group attorneys who contributed to this article were

Kathryn Bjørnstad Amin
,

Jon Breyfogle
,

Lisa Campbell
,

Patrick DiCarlo
,

David Levine
and

Malcolm Slee
. © 2022 Groom Law Group, Chartered. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. This article was edited a bit from

the original
as published on the company’s website.


Related SHRM Article:


A status report on changes to COBRA rules,
SHRM onlineFebruary 2022


Agencies revise – and complicate – COBRA deadline extensions,
SHRM onlineMarch 2021


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