WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor announced employee benefit plan compliance guidance and relief for victims of Hurricane Irma that parallels that which it already provided to victims of Hurricane Harvey regarding 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 Aug. 30, 2017, in EBSA Release Number 17-1216-NAT.
The Department understands 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 in this statement 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 above relief is in addition to the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report filing relief already provided by the IRS in accordance with the Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma news releases listed on the IRS disaster relief website. See the Treasury regulations under Internal Revenue Code § 7508A and Section 8 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56, 2007-34 I.R.B. 388. The relief is also in addition to the funding-related relief provided to defined benefit pension plans by the IRS, the Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in IRS Notice 2017-49.
The Department and IRS will continue to monitor the situation to address those issues that are most important in helping individuals, employers and plan sponsors recover from these hurricanes. For more information on Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma relief under ERISA, see “FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” visit EBSA’s Disaster Relief pages for employers and advisers and workers and families, or contact the Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration online at www.askebsa.dol.gov or by calling 1-866-444-3272. Questions about IRS guidance should be directed to the IRS at 1-877-829-5900.