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On January 5, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) stated effective April 1, 2018, employee benefit plans must comply with new requirements for disability benefit claims.

The DOL’s final rule strengthened the claims and appeals requirements for plans that provide disability benefits and are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on December 19, 2016, became effective on January 18, 2017, and was scheduled to become applicable on January 1, 2018. On November 24, 2017, the DOL delayed the final rule for 90 days, until April 1, 2018. The delay allowed the Department of Labor to carefully consider comments and data and to examine regulatory alternatives that met its objectives of ensuring the full and fair review of disability benefit claims while not imposing unnecessary costs and adverse consequences.

ERISA plans that include disability benefits must comply with the new procedural protections, effective for claims that are submitted after April 1, 2018. Entities that administer disability benefit claims, including issuers and third-party administrators, will need to revise their claims procedures to comply with the final rule.

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