Last year, the Department of Labor (working in concert with other agencies) issued two notices extending a variety of benefit plan deadlines as a result of the COVID-19 national emergency, as discussed in detail in our May 2020 blog. The relief generally provided that, in determining deadlines, the period from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the end of the COVID-19 national emergency or such other date announced by the agencies (also known as the “Outbreak Period”) would be disregarded. However—and notably—the Outbreak Period was generally subject to the one-year duration limitation set forth in Section 518 of ERISA.
If the “one-year duration limitation” had in all cases begun on March 1, 2020, that one year would have already come and gone, even while the COVID-19 national emergency continues. But the DOL has now, by way of EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01, issued further guidance that provides for an individualized application of the one-year duration limitation.