EBSA Disaster Relief Notice Update 2021-01

Updated March 10, 2021

The Department of Labor on February 26, 2021 issued EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01, which lays out clarifying guidance on the length of COVID-19 relief allowed by the Timeline Extension Rule.

Under previous guidance issued in April 2020, various deadlines were extended by disregarding the period between March 1, 2020, and 60 days after the end of the national emergency. Also referred to as the outbreak period, it fundamentally acts as a pause button for calculating various time frames; such as the 60-day election period for COBRA and the 30 – or 60-day period to request special enrollment under HIPAA.

Under the new guidance described in EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01, the DOL clarified that the outbreak period will certainly continue until 60 days after the end of the national emergency.

However, the DOL also recognizes that individual extensions are limited to a one-year period by statute. Therefore, as explained in the Notice, while the time frame extensions will continue beyond February 28, they will be applied on an individual basis, and in no case will any individual extension go beyond one year.


If a qualified beneficiary would have been required to make a COBRA election by March 1, 2020, the relief delays that requirement until February 28, 2021, which is the earlier of one year from March 1, 2020, or the end of the outbreak period (which remains ongoing).

Similarly, if a qualified beneficiary would have been required to make a COBRA election by March 1, 2021, that election requirement would be delayed until the earlier of 1 year from that date (i.e., March 1, 2022) or the end of the Outbreak Period.

Likewise, if a plan would have been required to furnish a notice or disclosure by March 1, 2020, the relief would end with respect to that notice or disclosure on February 28, 2021. The responsible plan fiduciary would be required to ensure that the notice or disclosure was furnished on or before March 1, 2021. In all of these examples, the delay for actions required or permitted that is provided by the Notices does not exceed 1 year.


EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01

COBRA Deadline Extensions

Updated May 12, 2020

On April 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued guidance providing significant deadline extensions and other relief to assist employee benefit plans, plan participants and beneficiaries, employers and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, and other service providers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance applies to health and welfare plans and retirement plans and follows the March 13, 2020 declaration of a federal emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Updated DOL guidance on FSA and HRA claims timeframes

Updated 5/14/2020

On April 29th, the US Department of Labor (DOL) published additional guidance related to COVID-19 pandemic that extended certain claims deadlines associated with health care FSA and HRA plans  The guidelines are intended to help FSA and HRA participants who were unable to submit claims within required timeframes because of the COVID19 pandemic.

For any FSA or HRA with a run-out period ending March 1, 2020 or later, the new rules have extended the run-out period for FSAs and HRAs beyond when the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a nationally declared emergency. This gives participants additional time to submit receipts for reimbursement of any qualified expenses incurred before the end of their plan year. The top questions from clients and consultants are: 


  1. Will AccrueCMS notify FSA participants that there is an extension to file claims? 
    We’ll be adding an informational banner to participant’s online accounts to notify them of the extension.
  2. Does the extension apply to the grace period? 
    No, the grace period was not addressed in the new rules.
  3. Will carryovers be reversed?
    We will continue to carryover balances for employers that offer this as a part of their plan design. Balances can be reversed to support claims filed during the extension.

Important COVID FSA and HSA Impacts and Legislation Changes


The CARES Act (COVID-3 Stimulus Bill)

Updated March 31, 2020

The “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act” was signed into law on March 27, 2020. What exactly does this mean? This new bill contains many employee benefit-related items. The revisions permanently reinstate coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medicines as eligible for reimbursement from FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs without the necessity of a prescription, assuming the employer’s plan documents allow so. It further expands the definition of qualified OTC items to include eligible menstrual care products that can be purchased with these funds. This change is effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020.

As the industry makes this important transition, the implementation of the new eligible item list will gradually occur over the next 4-6 weeks.

Have questions or interested in learning more about HSAs, FSAs and other common benefits? Visit our Contact page now.


Stay at Home Order

Updated March 25, 2020

In accordance with the Stay at Home order our offices are closed but our staff is working remotely.  We ask for your patience and understanding during this period while we adjust to this new work environment.

Our goal is to provide the same level of service we would normally working from our offices.

Our customer service telephone lines are open but being rerouted to each employee’s home.  As a result, you may experience some voice service interruptions.  We ask that your first line of communication be via email and one of our representatives will reach out to you via email or phone call.


COBRA Support




We will continue monitoring conditions and will be making adjustments as needed to support our customers and keep our employees safe.