As part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic, the United States Department of Labor extended many of the deadlines under ERISA, the federal law governing most employee benefits. Now that many of the policies implemented to address COVID-19 are being ended, the date when the COVID-19 ERISA deadlines extensions will end is unsettled. They could expire as early as June 9, 2023. or as late as July 10.
For background, in May 2020, US DOL issued guidance that all ERISA deadlines, including for filing appeals of benefit denials, were extended to 60 days after the end of the COVID 19 National Emergency. Fed Reg. Deadline Extension In May 2021, US DOL issued further guidance that the maximum extension of a deadline was one year. EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01. So, all the deadlines were extended for the sooner of one-year from the deadline, or 60 days after the end of the National emergency. A COVID-19 Public Health Emergency was also declared, but the extension of the time limits are under the National emergency, not the Public Health emergency.
Biden had announced that he intended to end both the National and the Public Health emergencies on May 11, 2023. Executive Order But, Congress passed a bill ending the National emergency, which Biden signed and became effective on April 10. The Public Health emergency is still scheduled to end May 11, 2023. So, currently, all the deadlines extended by the National emergency are scheduled to end June 9, 2023, 60 days after the end of the National emergency. But, DOL has evidently informally communicated that it will issue guidance extending the National emergency deadlines to the July 10, 2023, which would have been the date if Congress hadn’t ended the National emergency on April 10 rather than May 11. Proskauer Blog Post A deadline that is active at the end of the emergency (like for an appeal of LTD denial, the denial is less than 180 days before the end of the emergency) the period of time from the denial to the end of the emergency is disregarded. So, for a denial dated May 26, 2023, the appeal deadline would be 180 days plus 45 days, assuming the July 10 date for the end of the National emergency.
I have checked, and it doesn’t look like DOL has yet issued any guidance delaying the end of the filing deadline to July 10 rather than June 9. Here is a link to the EBSA website if you want to check yourself in the future. EBSA Coronavirus Response Page. So, for my long-term disability benefit appeals, I am going to prepare to comply with the June 9 date to make sure no deadlines are missed. I’ll post again when I learn that the guidance has been issued.