The U.S. Department of Labor has decided to implement ERISA disability benefits claims regulations. The regulations were proposed at the end of 2016, with a scheduled January 1, 2018 effective date. The regulations were designed to ensure various due process protections of ERISA disability claimants under 29 U.S.C. § 1133 and 29 C.F.R. § 2560.503-1, as well provide guidelines for claims administrators for the treatment of certain evidence submitted in support of disability claims. The regulations are set to take effect on April 1, 2018 and will be applicable to all claims filed after that date.
On January 5, 2018 the USDOL announced the implementation would be delayed in order to assess the reasonableness of the regulation. The announcement issued by the USDOL stated:
The Department announced a 90-day delay of the applicability date of the final rule – from Jan. 1, 2018, through April 1, 2018 – to give stakeholders the opportunity to submit data and information on the costs and benefits of the final rule. The Department received approximately 200 comment letters from the insurance industry, employer groups, consumer advocates, and lawyers representing disability benefit claimants, all of which are posted on the Department’s website. Only a few comments responded substantively to the Department’s request for quantitative data to support assertions that the final rule would drive up disability benefit plan costs by more than the Department had predicted, cause an increase in litigation, and consequently reduce workers’ access to disability insurance protections.
Notably, the USDOL announcement also stated:
The information provided in the comments did not establish that the final rule imposes unnecessary regulatory burdens or significantly impairs workers’ access to disability insurance benefits.
The Summit previously discussed the changes in-depth in a prior post, which may be found here.