DOL postpones final rules on disability benefit claims procedures

The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a ninety-day delay – until April 1, 2018 – of the applicability date for ERISA plans to comply with a final rule amending the claims procedure requirements applicable to disability benefits. The final rule, which was published in the Federal Register on December 19, 2016, adopted certain procedural protections and safeguards for disability benefit claims that were already applicable to claims for group health benefits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The three-month delay of the applicability date is intended to give interested stakeholders the opportunity to submit, and for the Department to consider, data and information related to concerns by some insurance industry and employer groups, and some members of Congress, that the claims procedure amendments will drive up disability benefit plan costs, cause an increase in litigation and, in so doing, impair workers’ access to disability insurance benefits.
The amendments to the final rule were to become applicable to claims for disability benefits filed on or after January 1, 2018. In response to the concerns noted above raised by stakeholders, and pursuant to Executive Order 13777 on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, the Department published a notice in the Federal Register on October 12, 2017, seeking comment on a proposed 90-day delay of the applicability date for plans to comply with the claims procedure amendments. The comment period on the proposed delay ended on October 27, 2017. In that same document, the Department asked for comments that provide data and information germane to a re-examination of the merits of repealing, replacing, modifying or retaining the rule. That comment period ends on December 11, 2017.
SOURCE: EBSA news release, November 24, 2017.
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