On February 26, 2021, the Departments of Labor and the Treasury (“the Departments”) issued guidance addressing the COVID-19 Outbreak Period – specifically, the associated period of “up to one year” that may be disregarded for certain benefit plan deadlines. Unexpectedly, they have taken the interpretation that these benefit plan deadline extensions generally apply on an individual-by-individual basis. Individuals with timeframes that are subject to the extensions will have until the following deadlines to make benefit elections, payments, file a claim or benefit appeal as follows:

  • one (1) year from the date they were first eligible for relief, or
  • 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency (the end of the Outbreak Period).

This is a different approach to what most practitioners thought, which would have had the clock start running on the disregarded timelines after February 28, 2021. Note, under this latest guidance, employers must notify affected individuals as to the end of the relief period. You will find further details follow.


In May of 2020, the Departments issued a final rule that required all group health plans, disability plans, and other employee welfare benefit plans to disregard the period (“the Outbreak Period”) from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency relating to the coronavirus pandemic with respect to the following periods and dates…

To read more, click the guide below: