Compliance Deadline for Disability Claim Regulations DelayedPublications - Client Alert | November 29, 2017
On Friday, November 24, 2017 the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) released a final rule announcing a 90-day delay of the applicability date of the regulations for disability claims procedures (the “Regulations”). This finalizes the proposed rule released by the DOL on October 12, 2017. As discussed in our previous Client Alert, the final Regulations were published December 19, 2016 and generally require employers to amend their disability claims procedures to provide more detail and accessibility to employees.
The Regulations apply to any benefit plan that conditions the availability of benefits upon a showing of a disability. This means the Regulations apply not only to short- and long-term disability plans, but also to retirement plans that require plan administrators to make a determination of disability in order to decide a claim for benefits.
Under the most recent DOL guidance, the Regulations will become applicable on April 1, 2018. According to the DOL’s announcement on Friday, “there is little in the public record to date to support a further delay of the [Regulations] or subsequent substantive changes.” Interested parties have until December 11, 2017 to submit comments to the DOL regarding the Regulations. Unless further action is taken on the Regulations, we recommend employers prepare to comply with the Regulations by April 1, 2018.
Employers should continue to monitor the DOL for any developments concerning the Regulations. If no further action is taken in the coming months, employers should consider amending the disability benefits claims procedures in their plan documents and operational procedures. Additionally, employers should work with their service providers to ensure they have the capability to comply with the Regulations. For example, an employer should verify its service provider is able to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate notices in compliance with the Regulations.
If you have any questions regarding the Regulations or would like assistance amending your plans or procedures to comply with the Regulations, please contact a member of our Employee Benefits Practice Group.