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Compliance Briefing Center

Legislation and Reform

Making it Easier for You
to Manage Benefits

Compliance Guidelines for Hurricane Harvey

September 5, 2017

On August 30, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued compliance guidance for employee benefit plans impacted by Hurricane Harvey (Release Number 17-1216-NAT, available here). 

This guidance, in part, acknowledges plan participants and beneficiaries may experience challenges in the hurricane’s aftermath, such as potential difficulties in adhering to claims filing deadlines or COBRA elections and/or premium payments.

While no specific extensions of these plan administrative deadlines are given (for example, directing plans to disregard – when calculating applicable deadlines – the days between Date X and Date Y), the DOL encourages plans to “act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of the workers and their families who rely on their health plans for their physical and economic well-being.”

Furthermore, the DOL comments it will take potentially extenuating circumstances into consideration and its regulatory enforcement will focus primarily on compliance assistance in those instances in which – for an example –hurricane damage makes adherence to existing timeframes and deadlines difficult or impossible.

The DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has published "FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricane Harvey" (available here) to potentially address plan participant and beneficiary questions concerning their health coverage during this difficult period.

WageWorks will continue to monitor this topic and – should the ruling agencies publish additional guidance – we will advise accordingly.