The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced employee benefit plan compliance guidance and relief for victims of Hurricane Irma that parallels easements it already provided to victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The relief regards verification procedures for plan loans and distributions, participant contributions and loan payments, blackout notices, and group health plan compliance. The Hurricane Harvey relief was announced on August 30.
DOL officials say they understand that plan fiduciaries, employers, labor organizations, service providers, and participants and beneficiaries may encounter issues complying with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) over the next few months as the implications of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey unfold. The guidance provided generally applies to employee benefit plans, plan sponsors, employers and employees, and service providers to such employers who were located in a county identified for individual assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey.
The new relief is in addition to the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report filing relief already provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is also in addition to the funding-related relief provided to defined benefit pension plans by the IRS, the DOL, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) in IRS Notice 2017-49.
The DOL has also provided information for retirement plan participants and beneficiaries in “FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.”