For an update on the status of the revised claims procedure regulations, see here.
The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has announced, via final rule, that it is delaying the applicability of revised claims procedures that would have applied to disability benefit plans governed by ERISA. The revised claims procedures, which are similar to those that apply to group health plans and include expanded disclosure and translation obligations, were originally scheduled to become effective as of January 1, 2018 and are now slated to take effect on April 1, 2018. In the meantime, EBSA plans to complete its comment solicitation process, examine the information and data submitted, and take any appropriate next steps.
The delay is in part due to President Trump’s February 24, 2017 Executive Order, which directed agencies to review existing regulations and consult with affected entities in working to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens. Some stakeholders have asserted that the revised claims procedures would lead to a parade of horribles: increased costs, complicated and delayed claims processing, employers reducing or eliminating disability benefits, and individuals dropping or foregoing coverage. Others strongly oppose any delay or change to the procedures, citing the need for increased protections for disability claimants and the multi-year process used to develop the regulations.
EBSA currently remains unconvinced that the revised claims procedures are overreaching. In the preamble regarding the delay, it states that based on information and data provided to date, no substantive changes or delay past April 1 is warranted. However, through December 11, 2017 interested parties may submit comments, data and “convincing factual support” for EBSA’s review.
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