While the coronavirus pandemic continues to change the workplace, the Department of Labor and IRS have released several regulation changes to employee benefits plans. Although these changes have major implications, all provide much-needed help to employees.

Here are the mandatory COVID-19 employee benefits changes to know:

More time to submit claims when your plan ends

Health plans have a runout period where employees can submit claims beyond the plan year (typically 0, 30, 60, or 90 days – depending on the plan administrator). During the declared Outbreak Period of the pandemic (which began as of March 1, 2020), the runout period to submit claims for the plan year has been extended until 60 days after the National Emergency ends. Since the end of the National Emergency has not yet been announced, the final extension date of when to submit claims is yet to be determined.

Related articles:

Extended window to make mid-year plan changes

Normally, employees only have a 30-day window to make changes to their benefits mid-year when there’s a qualifying event (marriage, divorce, birth, death, loss of coverage, etc.). However, during the COVID-19 outbreak, this 30-day requirement has been suspended. If you experience a qualifying event during the pandemic, you can make changes to your benefits, even if it’s been more than 30 days since the qualifying event occurred.

Open enrollment window extended to July 15, 2020

If your open enrollment deadline is between April 1, 2020 and July 14, 2020, your window to make plan changes or elections is now extended to July 15, 2020. This is true even for plans that start prior to July 15, 2020.

No use-or-lose rule for some FSA participants

If you’re enrolled in a flexible spending plan and your plan year or grace period ends anytime between April 1 and July 15, 2020, the use-or-lose rule will not be implemented this year. Calendar year plans (such as our group FSA plan) and plans that start after July 15, 2020 have no change to the use-or-lose rule.

There are also some optional changes that may be available to you, depending on whether or not your plan administrator makes a plan amendment. Please check with your plan administrator for any further changes to your benefits plans.

For questions about these mandatory changes that affect all participants, please contact our benefits experts at