As outlined in previous Duane Morris Alerts, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, presents a potentially serious risk to the safety and welfare of employees and the financial health of companies. With employers facing the prospect of government-mandated business closures and employees who need time off to care for children unexpectedly home for multiple weeks due to school closures, COVID-19 presents numerous employee benefit-related questions and challenges. This Alert will provide employers with a roadmap for addressing COVID-19 concerns that affect health insurance plans (including potential HIPAA privacy obligations thereunder), welfare benefit plans and retirement plans.
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued final regulations for the processing of disability claims under certain benefit plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The rules are effective for disability determinations filed on or after April 1, 2018.
Affected plans include disability benefit plans subject to ERISA and other ERISA plans that condition the payment of a benefit based upon a disability determination. This latter group of plans may include qualified retirement plans (such as defined benefit plans, 401(k) plans, profit sharing plans and 403(b) plans), as well as severance pay plans, nonqualified deferred compensation plans and supplemental retirement plans. Some programs that provide benefit payments upon a finding of disability may, however, be classified as payroll practices that are not subject to ERISA, and therefore not covered by these new rules.