Recent COVID-19 Regulations: Information and Solutions To Help

Coronavirus Resources & Information – Employer

Our Benefit Plans And COVID-19: Information and Solutions To Help

Welcome to our COVID-19 Information and Solutions page. Here you can find information on a variety of topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on plans we administer. This includes federal regulatory changes and guidance, new COVID-19 related plan options, remote open enrollment meeting tools and more.

We will keep this page updated with any related changes or impacts. We are continuously monitoring the situation and updating our information as quickly as possible.

For Our Broker Partners: If you need to discuss any information on this page, please email sales@benstrat.com.

For Our Clients: If you need to discuss any information on this page, please reach out directly to your dedicated Account Manager or email clientservices@benstrat.com.

This Page Has Been Updated To Include Information On The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) Signed Into Law on March 11, 2021.


  • ARPA – Dependent Care Assistance Plans Maximum Increase - NEW

      We've created a pdf FAQ that can be downloaded below to answer some common questions.

      DCAP FSA CHANGES FAQ

      On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law. One of the law's provisions is to temporarily increase the maximum annual contribution amount for the Employer-sponsored Dependent Care Assistance Plans (DCAPs). The law provides for the following DCAP increases for the 2021 calendar year:

      • The maximum contribution has been raised to $10,500
      • For married couples filing separate tax returns, the maximum has been raised to $5,250

      These increases are only in place for the calendar year 2021. Employers are not required to adopt the new maximums to their plan.

      Employers who wish to adopt the temporary increase must amend their Cafeteria Plan Documents before the end of the plan year in which they decide to increase the limit. For calendar-year plans, this means the documents must be amended by December 31, 2021.

      Benefit Strategies is currently working on reconfiguring its system to accommodate the increased election limits. There will be a separate amendment that will be made available later this year to document the change, most likely during the second quarter.

      Action Needed

      Please use the below election form to adopt this adjustment and report it to Benefit Strategies.

      DCA Maximum Increase Form

  • ARPA – COBRA Subsidy - NEW

      Action Required

      What you need to do: While we await further DOL guidance on model subsidy notices and any additional notification requirements, we would appreciate it if you could fill out the form below to help Benefit Strategies understand your intentions.

      COBRA Form

      It is also important that our COBRA clients review the termination types in our system and confirm that they are accurate. We must ensure that we have a complete list of AEIs whose employment and/or benefits have been terminated involuntarily. Please follow the guide below to run a QB Summary report to see participants and types in the BSL system. Please contact your Account Manager if you find a termination reason that needs to be changed or if you need assistance reviewing this information.

      QB Summary Report Guide

      We have also created some useful tools as a resource for you:

      ARPA COBRA Subsidy Tool

      The ARPA COBRA Subsidy Tool has several tabs that will help you work through which initial qualifying events, benefit plan types, and maximum periods of COBRA coverage that will determine if a Qualified Beneficiary is an AEI eligible to receive the subsidy under ARPA. This includes an introduction tab that will provide an outline of the tabs, as well as notes regarding the most recent guidance from the DOL released on April 7, 2021.

      What you need to be aware of:

      • Premiums for medical coverage (but not Health FSAs) for all AEIs are subsidized at 100% during the coverage period.
      • To qualify as an AEI, a person must be COBRA-eligible as of April 1 or later and not be eligible for other coverage during the subsidy period.
      • The subsidy period lasts for up to six months (through September 2021) except for AEIs who exhaust their COBRA eligibility or qualify for other coverage. AEIs receiving the subsidy are required to inform the plan if they’re eligible for other coverage.
      • AEIs who become COBRA-eligible after April 1, 2021, receive the subsidy through September 2021, even if they receive less than six months’ premium subsidies.
      • The law establishes an Extended Election Period of 60 days from receipt of the AREPA eligibility notice during which AEIs can enroll in subsidized coverage retroactive to April 1.
      • Elections made under the Extended Election Period remain in effect until the end of the AEI’s maximum COBRA continuation coverage period.
      • Employers have the option to allow AEIs to change medical coverage (but not other benefits) as of April 1, but AEIs are limited to switching to a plan with the same or lower premium plan than they had prior to the qualifying event.
      • Employers are responsible for subsidizing the full premium plus the 2% administration fee. Companies will be reimbursed by credits against payroll taxes owed.

      Benefit Strategies is incorporating the changes into the COBRA process. We are required to notify all AEIs within 60 days from April 1st. AEIs who become eligible (and new Qualified Beneficiaries who are not eligible for the subsidies) will receive information from us in the standard COBRA time frames.

  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021

      The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was signed into law on December 27, 2020. Included are various options employers may choose to add to their Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plans to provide relief for employees whose FSA elections may have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Action Needed

      If you would like to make changes to your FSA plan, please click the link below to complete the form. Below is a high-level overview of each of the changes included in the legislation. Please note that none of these changes are mandatory. Employers have the option to make one or more of the changes, all of the changes, or make no changes at all. Should an employer choose to make changes, those selections will be in addition to the mandatory one year filing extension already in place.

      Please note: If a form was previously submitted, all prior submissions will be disregarded and the most recent submission will be used.

      CONSOLIDATED ACT FORM

        1. Permit Health and Dependent Care FSAs to carryover all unused amounts from plan years ending 2020 to plan years ending 2021. This is also permitted for plan years ending 2021 to plan years ending 2022.

        2. Benefit Strategies Note: If your Health FSA plan ends December 31, 2020 and you already have the carryover provision on your Health FSA, please be aware that the normal automatic rollover, up to your plan’s rollover maximum, will happen on January 1, 2021 as planned. If you choose to allow the change for all unused amounts to rollover, including for Dependent Care FSAs, we will handle those rollovers separately.

        3. Permit a 12-month grace period for unused benefits or contributions in Health FSA and Dependent Care FSA for plan years ending in 2020 and 2021.
        4. Permit Health FSA participants who terminate during the 2020 or 2021 plan year to spend down their unused balances for expenses incurred through the end of the plan year in which the termination occurred, including any grace period.
        5. Permit the maximum age of eligible dependents for Dependent Care FSAs to be through age 13 (currently through age 12) for the 2020 plan year and for unused amounts from the 2020 plan year to be carried over into the 2021 plan year.
        6. Permit a prospective change in election amounts for Health and Dependent Care FSAs for plan years ending in 2021 without a corresponding change in status event.
  • IRS Cafeteria Plan Amendments

      On May 12, 2020, the IRS released two notices providing increased flexibility with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). Notice 2020-29 allowed for mid-year elections and extension of the plan year end date, as well as Notice 2020-33 provided a permanent change to the maximum amount permitted on the FSA rollover option. Options under Notice 2020-29 have expired. Since Notice 2020-33 is permanent, that option is still available now and for future plan years. It allows for the maximum rollover amount on a Health FSA to be equal to 20% of the federal plan maximum election amount for that plan year. If you wish to add the rollover option to your Health FSA or to increase the rollover maximum amount, please contact your Account Manager.

  • DOL Guidance on Extensions of Claim Filing and Appeal Deadlines
  • Information on Qualifying Events For Enrollment and Election Changes
      Healthcare FSAs and Limited Purpose FSAs

      The IRS permits changes to an election for the below situations (called Qualifying Events). We are continually monitoring regulations to determine if any new Qualifying Events will be permitted due to the extraordinary circumstances being experienced across the country.

      Qualifying Events Due to Employment Changes:

      • You or your legally married spouse’s termination of employment
      • Your legally married spouse’s commencement of employment
      • You or your legally married spouse’s change from part-time to full-time, or full-time to part-time status
      • You or your legally married spouse’s unpaid Leave of Absence (LOA)

      Other Qualifying Events:

      • Marriage
      • Divorce
      • Birth or Adoption
      • You or your legally married spouse’s or your dependent’s death

      How To Make A Change To Your Health FSA Election If You Have Experienced A Qualifying Event:

      NEW! If your normal method for submitting FSA changes is submitting our paper FSA Status Change Form, please note we now have an electronic fillable form and no longer use the paper form. The electronic form can be found by clicking the button below. You can also access the form from the FSA page in the Resources section of benstrat.com.

      Status Change Form

      Dependent Care FSAs

      The IRS permits changes to an election for the below situations (called Qualifying Events). We are continually monitoring regulations to determine if any new Qualifying Events will be permitted due to the extraordinary circumstances being experienced across the country.

      Qualifying Events Due to Changes in Childcare Arrangements:

      • You no longer need childcare
      • You no longer need childcare as frequently
      • You have had a change in the amount you pay for childcare (increase or decrease)
      • You now need childcare - this is a Qualifying Event to add the Dependent Care FSA if you are not currently enrolled.

      Qualifying Events Due to Employment Changes:

      • You or your legally married spouse’s termination of employment
      • Your legally married spouse’s commencement of employment
      • You or your legally married spouse’s change from part-time to full-time, or full-time to part-time status
      • You or your legally married spouse’s unpaid Leave of Absence (LOA)

      Other Qualifying Events:

      • Marriage
      • Divorce
      • Birth or Adoption
      • You or your legally married spouse’s or your dependent’s death

      How To Make A Change To Your Dependent Care FSA Election If You Have Experienced A Qualifying Event:

      NEW! If your normal method for submitting FSA changes is submitting our paper FSA Status Change Form, please note we now have an electronic fillable form and no longer use the paper form. The electronic form can be found by clicking the button below. You can also access the form from the FSA page in the Resources section of benstrat.com.

      Status Change Form

      Parking and Transit Accounts

      IRS regulations allow participants to make changes to Parking and Transit elections at any time. This includes decreasing or increasing your election amount or suspending enrollment in the plan.

      How To Make A Change To Your Parking and/or Transit Account Election or Suspend Enrollment:

      You will need to contact your employer so they can update your payroll records and they will then notify Benefit Strategies to make the change in our system. Keep in mind your employer may have deadlines for the changes to be made in time for the following payroll.

      Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

      IRS regulations allow HSA account holders to make changes to the amount they are contributing to their HSA at anytime. This includes no longer making any contributions.

      How To Make A Change To Your HSA Contribution Amount:

      You will need to contact your employer so they can update your payroll records and they will then notify Benefit Strategies to make the change in our system. Keep in mind your employer may have deadlines for the changes to be made in time for the following payroll or other policies surrounding timing of HSA contribution changes.

      How changes can be made with BenStrat

      Clients should always use their normal method for submitting changes to Benefit Strategies.

      If your normal method for submitting FSA changes is submitting our paper FSA Status Change Form, please note we now have an electronic fillable form and no longer use the paper form. The electronic form can be found below. You can also access the form from the FSA page in the Resources section of benstrat.com.

      Status Change Form

      Mid-Year FSA election changes: You can use our calculator below to determine the impact of a mid-year FSA election change.

      Assess Impact of Mid-Year Election Change

  • CARES Act Provides New Section 213d Eligible Expenses
      • The CARES Act
      • What this means for you

        Over-the-counter items eligible under an FSA

        Two permanent changes to FSA and HSA eligible expenses have been made under the federal CARES Act law signed March 27, 2020. Both of these changes are retroactive and effective for expenses incurred on or after 1/1/2020.

        1) Over the Counter (OTC) drugs and medicines no longer require a prescription to be eligible. This includes products such as cough syrup, allergy medicine and pain relievers.

        2) Menstrual care products (i.e. tampons, liners, pads, cups, etc.) are now eligible.

        Eligible Expense Lists

  • Online Shopping Options for FSA and HSA Eligible Expenses
  • Services We Offer To Assist During This Time
      • Direct Billing of furloughed and LOA employees
      • Emergency Assistance Plans
      • Work From Home Expenses Plans

      Contact sales@benstrat.com for a proposal or to learn more.

Blog

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Benefit Strategies
P.O. Box 1300
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Phone: 603-647-4666
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Email: info@benstrat.com

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