Surency Flex COVID-19 Update For our Groups and Brokers
Updated April 2, 2021
IRS Announces covid-19 ppe are now eligible expenses
On March 26, 2021 the IRS announced that personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19 are considered 213(d) eligible expenses for FSAs, HSAs, and HRAs. Please see IRS Announcement 2021-7.
If Surency prepared your plan document, Surency will send you a complimentary plan amendment adding COVID-19 PPE as an eligible expense allowing your plan participants to submit claims for COVID-19 PPE expenses. The plan amendment will be sent to you in the coming weeks, please sign and keep for your records.
These items are eligible retroactive to January 1, 2020. What does this mean?
- Your employees can submit a claim for eligible PPE items they have already purchased in the current Plan Year.
- If your plan still allows claim submissions for the previous Plan Year due to it's Grace Period or Run-Out Period, your plan participants may submit a claim for eligible PPE items purchased on or after January 1, 2020.
We anticipate these PPE expenses to be eligible temporarily during the ongoing pandemic. These expenses are to be purchased for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
If Surency prepared your plan document and the IRS designates COVID-19 PPE expenses as a permanent expense list or removes it from the eligible expenses list, Surency will send you a complimentary plan amendment to that effect.
If your employees have questions regarding what items are eligible under your plan, you can share this link to our full eligible expense list at Surency.com/flex/eligible-expenses.
For more information that you can share with your employees about purchasing these new items using their account funds and getting reimbursed for PPE previously purchased out-of-pocket, click the green "New Eligible Expenses Flyer" button below.
Updated March 16, 2021
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was signed into law. Below is information on how the ARPA may affect your Surency plans:
The ARPA includes a provision for a COBRA continuation coverage premium subsidy of 100% for individuals and families who experienced an involuntary termination of employment or a reduction in hours.
The subsidy will be available for Assistance Eligible Individuals (AEIs), as determined by the Act, from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.
COBRA participants must meet the below criteria in order to be an AEI:
- Coverage was lost due to involuntary termination of employment or a reduction in hours.
- The COBRA participant is still within the COBRA eligibility period as of April 1, 2021.
- Eligible COBRA participants who do not have an election in place will have the opportunity to make an election during an Extended Election Period and will be able to take advantage of the subsidy effective April 1, 2021. This will be referred to as the "lookback period" in determining member eligibility.
- Eligible COBRA participants who have an election in place as of April 1, 2021 will be able to take advantage of the subsidy effective April 1, 2021.
- Eligible COBRA participants who become eligible for COBRA continuation coverage on or after April 1, 2021 will be eligible for the subsidy while it is in effect.
To help you determine if COBRA participants are eligible for the subsidy, we will provide a report listing all participants in the lookback period.
Surency Will Send Required Subsidy Notifications
The ARPA requires that individuals in the lookback period, as well as those currently enrolled, receive a notification regarding the subsidy within 60 days of April 1, 2021; newly eligible COBRA participants should be notified within the current standard COBRA time frames.
As with any legislative or regulatory changes affecting COBRA participants, Surency will implement new functionality to simplify administration for your employees. Surency is actively working to determine additional requirements and functionality needed.
*The content is for informational purposes only may change based on additional guidance that may be issued by April 10th addressing the COBRA subsidy and model notice forms.
Temporary Increase of Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account Limits for 2021
The American Rescue Plan Act allows employers to temporarily increase their Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DC FSA) limit to $10,500 ($5,250 for married individuals filing separately). This temporary increase applies to the 2021 calendar year only (January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021). If your Plan Year is not a calendar year Plan Year, you may prorate the DC FSA limit on a monthly basis for the months of your Plan Year that fall within the 2021 calendar year.
If you would like to increase your DC FSA limits for the 2021 calendar year, you must amend your plan before December 31, 2021 by submitting the completed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Change Request Form to Surency Flex via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. When Surency receives the completed form, Surency will make the amendments to your plan.
Updated March 5, 2021
RELIEF PERIOD GUIDANCE FOR COBRA AND SPECIAL ENROLLMENTS
The Employee Benefits Security Administration issued guidance on the continuation of the COVID-19-related relief provided under the EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01.
The relief period under the Notice began on March 1, 2020 and continues until 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency or another date announced in a future notice. This relief period is referred to as the “Outbreak Period”. This Outbreak period is generally limited to a one-year period which would have ended on February 28, 2021.
During the Outbreak Period, COBRA time frames are generally extended with no deadlines for:
- plan sponsors to provide COBRA notices,
- qualified beneficiaries to elect continuation coverage under COBRA, and
- qualified beneficiaries to pay for their COBRA continuation coverage premiums.
The Timeframe extension for special enrollment in a benefits plan is 30 days (or 60 days if applicable).
Since the COVID-19 National Emergency is still ongoing, the Department of Treasury, IRS, and HHS advised the Department of Labor that they agree with the guidance that the relief period is still limited to the one-year period ending on February 28, 2021.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
You may not want to rely on COVID-19-related relief provided under the EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 on or after March 1, 2021.
The Department of Labor acknowledges that it may not be possible for some employers to comply with the guidance after March 1, 2021. As such, the Department of Labor may allow continued relief or compliance assistance on a case by case basis where plan fiduciaries are able to show that they acted in good faith and with reasonable diligence in light of their circumstances.
Updated December 30, 2020
Flexible spending account election changes and relief for 2021
On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was signed into law. This bill includes provisions that allow relief for members enrolled in Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (HC FSA), Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Accounts (LP FSA) and/or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DC FSA). These optional relief provisions include extended Grace Periods to file claims, increased carryover of unused balances, and flexibility for enrollment changes. Employers may amend their benefit plan at any time during 2021 consistent with these relief provisions but must amend their plan document. If you would like to offer any of these relief measures to your members, please complete this form (click here) and submit to Surency Flex via email at email@example.com. Surency will then make the appropriate revisions to your plan document where applicable and administer the plan based on the requested amendments. If you have questions, please contact your Surency Representative.
Updated November 19, 2020
The IRS recently released the following information on Commuter Benefits Plans which are still being affected by COVID-19:
- Unused amounts can be carried over to successive periods to be used for future commuting expenses as long as members remain employed under their employer.
- Unused amounts may be applied to another qualified transportation benefit such as qualified parking as long as the employer offers members another qualified transportation benefit and the maximum monthly amount for that benefit is not exceeded ($270 for 2020 and 2021)
- Cash refunds of qualified transportation benefit elections are not allowed per the IRS
Contact our Customer Service Team with any questions or concerns you may have at 866-818-8805 or through our online form here.
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.
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 - Please note: this information is now out-of-date
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 ARE THE TIMEFRAME EXTENSIONS?
(For the examples below - If the end date of the National Emergency was June 1, 2020, the outbreak period would end 60 days after that - July 31, 2020, then you may disregard deadlines associated with one or more of your Surency benefits plans 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 want to enroll you and your child under your employer’s plan, but your open enrollment isn’t until October 2020. You and your child may qualify for special enrollment, so you may be eligible to enroll into your employer’s health plan up until 30 days after July 31, 2020, which is August 30, 2020.
COBRA: There is 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 have up to 60 days after the end of the outbreak period to elect 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 two months' worth of COBRA continuation coverage. You may continue to receive coverage for February and March, but may not 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.)
For the source of this document,more information, and FAQs see links below:
Updated April 15, 2020
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.