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Department of Labor Updates COBRA FAQs and Model Notices

On May 1, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued updated Frequently Asked Questions and revised model notices under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). COBRA is a federal law that permits individuals to continue group health plan coverage for a limited period of time following certain events, such as a termination of employment, that are coupled with a loss of coverage. Employers are required to notify individuals of their rights under COBRA.

The changes in the model notices are primarily designed to help Medicare-eligible individuals understand their options for healthcare coverage. The model notices, however, do not include language that addresses DOL relief issued earlier in the week that provides additional time for individuals to elect COBRA coverage through the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Plan sponsors should work with their COBRA vendors and legal counsel to determine whether the model notice updates or coronavirus relief would necessitate any updates to the notices currently used by their group health plan to notify plan participants and beneficiaries of their rights under COBRA.

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New Notice Requirements for Retirement Plans Seeking IRS Approval of Church Plan Status

by Ralph E. DeJong, Todd A. Solomon and Patrick D. Ryan

Revenue Procedure 2011-44 modifies the procedures for submitting a private letter ruling request that a retirement plan constitutes a church plan to include a requirement that the applicant provide a notice to certain interested persons. The guidance provides rules regarding the timing and method for providing the notice as well as a Model Notice that applicants can modify as required.

Letter ruling applicants are required to provide a notice to each plan participant, beneficiary, QDRO alternate payee, and any employee organization representing employees who are plan participants (the interested parties). The notice informs recipients that the plan is not protected by ERISA’s statutory protections, including eligibility rules, vesting rules and minimum funding requirements.

A request for a letter ruling filed on or after September 26, 2011 must include a copy of the notice along with a statement that the notice was provided interested parties. An applicant whose letter ruling request is pending with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on September 26, 2011 must submit by November 25, 2011, a copy of the notice along with a cover letter containing a statement that references the pending request and the date the notice was provided to interested persons. The IRS may consider the letter ruling request as withdrawn if the notice is submitted after the November 25, 2011 deadline. If the applicant fails to submit the notice, the IRS will not rule on the pending request.

Plan sponsors with pending letter ruling requests should provide the notice to interested parties as soon as possible, and provide a copy to the IRS no later than November 25, 2011.

To read the full article, click here.

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