Surency Flex COVID-19 Update For our Groups and Brokers

 

Updated May 15, 2020

Flexible spending account election changes and relief

On May 12, 2020 the IRS released important information providing temporary relief for Cafeteria Plans. If you wish to implement one or more of the temporary changes below, you must amend your plan document before these temporary changes come into effect.

Election Change Relief:

Premium Only Plan (health-related coverage only) – Members are allowed to:
 - Make a new election if they initially declined coverage;
 - End their existing election and make a new election in a different health plan. This health plan must be sponsored by their employer; or
 - End existing election if they confirm they are or will be covered in other health plans not sponsored by their employer.

Health Care FSA/Limited Purpose Health FSA – Members are allowed to:
 - Make a new election; 
 - End their election; or
 - Decrease or increase their existing election.

Dependent Care FSA – Members are allowed to:
 - Make a new election; 
 - End their election; or
 - Decrease or increase their existing election.

For FSAs, you may limit mid-year elections to amounts no less than amounts already reimbursed.

Other Reliefs:

Grace Period* (for Health Care FSA, Limited Purpose Health Care FSA, and Dependent Care FSA):

  • Unused funds remaining in their Health Care FSA, Limited Purpose FSA or Dependent Care FSA at the end of their grace period ending in 2020 or their Plan Year ending in 2020, Members can apply these unused amounts towards eligible medical expenses incurred through December 31, 2020.

*This is not relevant for a Plan Year ending on or after October 31, 2020. These plans’ Grace Period would run through December 31, 2020 (if they have the legal maximum Grace Period length).

Carryover (for Health Care FSA and Limited Purpose Health FSA only):

  • If a member’s Plan Year started in 2020, they can carryover up to $550 of unused FSA funds, one time, into their 2021 Plan Year. If a member’s Plan Year began in 2019, the carryover amount is still $500.

Temporary Extension to Incur Claims (for Health Care FSA, Limited Purpose Health FSA, and Dependent Care FSA):

  • Grace Period’s ending in 2020 for a 2019 Plan Year or a Plan Year ending in 2020 - a Cafeteria Plan may allow members to submit claims for eligible expenses incurred through December 31, 2020. 

More Questions? Please contact your Surency Representative.

 

Updated May 11, 2020

Employee Benefit Plans Timeframe Extensions

On April 28, 2020 the U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) released new information on deadline extensions and guidance under section 518 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Certain timeframes will be extended for group health plans (GHP), disability and welfare plans, pension plans and member/beneficiaries of these plans through the COVID-19 outbeak. 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU? 
With the National Emergency beginning March 1, 2020 - please disregard all deadlines provided prior to the COVID-19 outbreak regarding your Surency benefit(s) plan(s) until 60 days after the state of National Emergency has ended. 

WHAT ARE THE TIMEFRAME EXTENSIONS?
(For the examples below - If the end date of the National Emergency were June 1, 2020, the outbreak period would end 60 days after that - July 31, 2020, then you would disregard deadlines associated with your Surency benefit(s) plan(s) until July 31, 2020)

SPECIAL ENROLLMENT: The timeframe extension for special enrollment in a benefits plan is 30 days (or 60 if applicable).

Example: You adopt a child and need health insurance. You would like to enroll you and your child under your employer’s plan but your open enrollment isn’t until October 2020. You and your child do qualify for special enrollment, therefore you are eligible to enroll into your employer’s health plan up until 30 days after July 31, 2020, which is August 30, 2020.

COBRA: There will be a 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage, the date for making COBRA premium payments, and the date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability.

Example (electing): You are enrolled in your employers health insurance. Because of the National Emergency, your employer reduces your hours below the group health plan’s eligibility requirements. If you were given a COBRA election notice on May 2, 2020, you will have 60 days after the end of the outbreak period to elect your COBRA coverage, which is September 29, 2020.

Example (premium payments): You received COBRA continuation coverage under an employer’s health insurance in February 2020. You haven’t made a payment in 50 days and monthly premium payment are due at the first of the month. Your plan does not allow qualified beneficiaries longer than a 30 day grace period for making payments. You made a payment in January but did not make a payment in February, March or April. By May 1, 2020 you made a payment for a two months worth. You can continue to receive coverage for February and March but cannot continue your coverage after April 2020. (Please note: your plan may not deny coverage, and may make retroactive payments for benefits and services received by you during this time.)

CLAIMS: This extension effects the date within which individuals may file a benefit claim under the plan’s claims procedure and the date within which claimants may file an appeal of an adverse benefit determination under the plan’s claims procedure.

Example (claim): You are enrolled in your employer’s health insurance. On March 15, 2020 your received treatment that was covered under your plan, but the claim was submitted on April 15, 2021. Within your plan, claims must be submitted within 365 days of your receipt treatment. Your last day to submit a claim is 365 days after July 31, 2020, which is July 31, 2021.

Example (internal appeal): You received a notice of adverse benefit determination from your 401(k) plan on May 1, 2020. This advises you that you have 60 days to file an appeal. You have 60 days after the outbreak period to submit the appeal, which is September 29, 2020.

EXTERNAL REVIEW: This extension effects the date within which claimants may file a request for an external review after receipt of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination and the date within which a claimant may file information to perfect a request for external review upon a finding that the request was not complete.

For the source of this document,more information, and FAQs see links below:
Source: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/05/04/2020-09399/extension-of-certain-timeframes-for-employee-benefit-plans-participants-and-beneficiaries-affected
https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/ebsa/ebsa20200428
https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/EBSA/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/faqs/covid-19.pdf

 

Updated April 15, 2020

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Dependent Care FSA - Temporary
COVID-19 was designated as a disaster under the Stafford Act on March 13, 2020. Under this act, Section 139, expenses related to disaster relief would expand services to nontraditional care givers (i.e. babysitting while an employee is working from home.)  

Source: https://www.winston.com/en/benefits-blast/coronavirus-tax-free-section-139-benefits-silver-lining-on-the-cloud-of-a-novel-disaster.html

Limited Purpose HRAs
Surency is proud to offer a Limited Purpose medical HRA specifically designed to cover COVID-19 medical expenses. For more information, please contact your Surency Representative.

Commuter Benefits
Please communicate with your Surency Representative about plan changes.

Run Out Periods
To allow employees additional time to submit medical expenses for a prior Plan Year, run out periods can be extended. For more information, please contact your Surency Representative. Please Note: Grace Periods and Carryover amounts cannot be changed. These are set by the Federal Government and not at the discretion of Surency or clients to extend beyond their statutory maximum amounts.

 

Updated March 30, 2020

THE cares act and small businesses 

The United States Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) on March 27, 2020. The $2 trillion package provides assistance for businesses, individuals, federal agencies, and state and local governments. There are a number of provisions that impact small businesses. 

Here is a summary of a few of the provisions that impact small businesses:

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans:

  • From February 15, 2020 to June 30, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) will guarantee loans to help eligible businesses pay costs such as payroll, benefits, rent, utilities, and so forth.
  • Use of loans:
     - Loans may be used for payroll, paid leave, insurance premiums, payroll taxes, rent, utilities, etc. A complete list of specified uses is detailed in the legislation.
     - Loans may not be used for individual employee compensation above $100,000 annualized per year, and may not be used for sick and family leave wages for which a credit is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
  • Who makes the loans:
     - The loans can be made by the SBA or by lenders authorized to make SBA loans.
  • Who is eligible for the loans:
     - Businesses eligible for the loans must, in general, employ 500 employees or fewer (certain exceptions apply).
  • Amount of loan:
    - The maximum loan amount is the lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs incurred in the year prior to the loan (February 15, 2019 – June 30, 2019), plus any Economic Injury Disaster loan (EIDL) made between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020 could be refinanced into a PPP loan, adding that outstanding loan amount to the payroll sum. Special rules apply for businesses not in existence between Feb. 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019.
  • Loan forgiveness and payment deferral:
    - Complete payment deferral of loan amounts for six months to one year.
    - Loans will be forgiven in an amount equal to certain costs incurred and payments made during the “covered period.” The covered period is the eight-week period beginning on the date of the origination of the loan.  The forgiven loan amounts include payroll costs (including wages, vacation and sick leave, group health insurance premiums, state and local taxes, payment of retirement benefits; and not any individual’s annualized compensation in excess of $100,000, or paid leave required under FFCRA), mortgage interest payments, rent payments, and utility payments.

Emergency Advance for EIDL Program:

The CARES Act provides for businesses with 500 employees or fewer to apply for economic injury disaster loans (“EIDL”) through the SBA’s EIDL program.  An advance of not more than $10,000 may be requested, and, if application certifications are met, must be issued within three days. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance.

Retention Credit:

The CARES Act provides a refundable credit against payroll taxes (with a cap) if business operations were suspended at least in part due to a governmental order limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19, or if the business had at least a 50% reduction in gross receipts year over year. Special rules apply for employers with more than 100 FT employees.

Payroll Tax Delay:

The deadline to deposit certain employer payroll taxes through the end of 2020 will be delayed until Dec. 31, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2022.

This summary is not intended to constitute legal or tax advice, and you should confer with legal counsel or accounting professionals before making any business decisions under the CARES Act. We, nonetheless, hope that you find this summary to be helpful. 

For more detailed information on programs and provisions that impact small businesses, visit https://www.sbc.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/guide-to-the-cares-act and download their comprehensive guide.

Reference: https://www.sbc.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/guide-to-the-cares-act

 

Changes to Eligible Over the Counter (OTC) Medications 

The $2-trillion stimulus package recently passed by Congress permanently reintroduces coverage of Over the Counter (OTC) drugs and medicines as eligible for reimbursement for members that have a FSAs, HRAs, HSAs, and/or Archer MSAs without the need of a prescription. This change is effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020. 

This bill includes two key provisions that will help members with FSAs, HSAs and/or HRAs during this time. Changes include the following:

  • Over the Counter Rx Revoked: Written prescriptions will no longer be required for Over the Counter (OTC) drugs, including items like Tylenol, Claritin, Tamiflu, etc. when purchased with an FSA, HSA or HRA, effective immediately and retroactive to January 1, 2020. 

This means members with FSAs, HSAs and HRAs can again buy Over the Counter (OTC) medicines they need to remain healthy.

  • Menstrual Care Products Included: The addition of menstrual care products are now eligible expenses under an FSA, HSA or HRA, effective immediately and retroactive to  January 1, 2020. 

The timeline for merchants to implement the changes for debit card transactions will occur gradually (within 4-6 weeks of the bill signing). However, it is important to emphasize that each merchant will adhere to its own timeline for completion of this process based on its own internal considerations, and card processors have no ability to influence this. We expect any issues like this to be temporary and resolved in a short time-frame.

HOW DOES THIS IMPACT CLAIMS SUBMISSIONS?
Surency Flex members can continue to submit expenses incurred for eligible Over the Counter (OTC) items through their Member Account at Surency.com, the Surency Flex Mobile App, or return to Surency Flex via email at flex@surency.com or via fax at 316-272-4841 and Surency will reimburse them via check or direct deposit based on the payment preferences set with each member’s account.

Contact our Customer Service Team with any questions or concerns you may have at 866-818-8805 or through our online form here

We are extremely excited about this change and the opportunity to provide affordable access to Over the Counter (OTC) items via tax advantaged benefits. 

We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available on this industry wide effort.

 

Updated March 26, 2020

If I send electronic files for enrollment, how do I communicate Dependent Care election changes to Surency Flex?
The best way to communicate a change in child care elections to Surency Flex is to update the annual election (enrollment amount) to be the YTD (Year to Date) deductions through the date the employee is making the change.

For example: If an employee had originally elected $1,000 on 1/1/2020 and wanting to essentially stop the deduction now with their YTD deductions = $225, then the employer would send the enrollment of $225 with a 3/25/2020 effective date. This caps the amount that will auto post to match the actual deductions taken. If a termination date is sent for the enrollment, then it will stop the entire FSA-DC FSA account and not allow the employee to file claims with a date of service after the stop date. This immediately starts the final filing rules. 

 

Updated March 25, 2020

Does Surency Have a Business Continuity Plan?
Yes, we have instituted our business continuity plan to ensure that we continue to provide excellent service to you during this time. We have planned and prepared for situations that allow us to work remotely while continuing to provide the best-in-class service you’ve come to expect from Surency.

Our teams have the tools and resources to meet our customers’ needs. We believe there will be little to no business disruption during this time. This is an unprecedented situation and we appreciate your patience.

Can Members Still Use Their Benefits?
Yes. Surency is committed to maintaining service and helping your members manage through these challenging times.  Our customer service team is available to you by phone at 1-866-818-8805 to answer any questions you may have. In addition, our comprehensive website, Surency.com, is available 24 hours a day – 7 days a week to access your Member Account. 

COVID-19 Preparedness and Your FSA
As COVID-19 virus continues to make an impact across the globe, your employees may be wondering what medical-related items are FSA-eligible.  Visit our partner, FSAStore.com, to learn more items that may help with any virus preparedness plan. 

https://fsastore.com/learn/coronavirus-preparedness-how-to-prep-for-covid-19

Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to help Americans with expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are three key items that may be helpful to you.

COVID-19 Testing
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act states that testing for coronavirus is free to the public (without having to use deductibles or copayments). The legislation comes a week after the IRS provided guidance which stated that High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) would cover the cost of coronavirus-related testing and treatment, even if the individual covered by the HDHP hadn’t met their deductible.

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-high-deductible-health-plans-can-cover-coronavirus-costs

Telemedicine Expenses
Telemedicine (or telehealth) has played an important role in enabling healthcare professionals to screen patients to determine if they should be tested for coronavirus. Wednesday’s legislation specifically addressed expenses related to telemedicine as being covered.

Paid Sick Leave
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act establishes a federal emergency paid-leave benefits program to provide payments to some employees. The bill requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two weeks of paid leave if employees are unable to work due to a variety of COVID-19 related issues including if the employee is subject to quarantine or isolation, is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, is caring for someone who is in quarantine/isolation and/or have children in schools that are closed. 

Additional details are available at https://www.npr.org/2020/03/19/818322136/heres-what-is-in-the-families-first-coronavirus-aid-package-trump-approved

Can I still contact Surency?
Yes, the Surency team is here for you. Reach out to your Surency account representative at any time. Members can easily contact our Customer Service team by calling 866-818-8805 or by submitting this online form.

I am working remotely, do you have online tools to make it easier to manage benefits?
Yes, we have easy-to-use online tools and access to the forms and information you need:

Online Employer Account:
You can log in to your online employer account at Surency.com and clicking on the ‘Login’ at the top, right corner. If you need to assistance with your employer account, please reach out our Marketing Support Team via email at marketing@surency.com

Online Broker Account:
You can log in to your online broker account at Surency.com and clicking on the ‘Login’ at the top, right corner. If you need to assistance with your broker account, please reach out our Marketing Support Team via email at marketing@surency.com

Forms
Access the forms you need, when you need them online at Surency.com. Please consider returning completed forms via email during this COVID-19 outbreak in order for our team to be able to take quicker action to assist you while working remotely.

 

Surency is continuing to provide updates as the situation progresses. Please visit our website for periodic updates at Surency.com/COVID-19.