- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a 90-day delay of a rule change that amends claims procedure requirements for employees' disability insurance benefits governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
- In December, DOL — under the Obama administration — published a final amendment to the rules governing disability benefits claims under employee plans. Originally, that change would have taken effect Jan. 1, 2018. The new date, under DOL's extension, will be April 1, 2018.
- DOL says the delay is due in part to administrative, financial and legal concerns voiced by various stakeholders, according to the text of the announcement, which is expected to appear in the Nov. 29 Federal Register. Stakeholders can comment on potential changes to the rule until Dec. 11.
DOL added that the rule change is pursuant to President Donald Trump's executive order directing agencies to reduce the number and burden of regulations. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta has voiced support for streamlining various aspects of labor regs in recent weeks, stating at the American Bar Association's Labor and Employment Law section conference that this would be one of the agency's top priorities moving forward.
The rule adds a new wrinkle to compliance for employers who offer disability insurance plans governed by ERISA. Additionally, employers need only handle compliance measures if their disability plans are self-insured; if employers have this type of insurance set up through a separate insurer, then it's on the insurer to adjust to the rule, according to attorneys at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP.
Other than ensuring compliance with the new rule, employers should actively improve employee communication measures around ERISA. Workers should be aware, in some form, of their rights under ERISA and whether their particular benefits plan is subject to it (there are a few exceptions depending on the type of employer).