The deadlines for certain participant notices have been extended due to Hurricane Irma. This is identical to the relief issued for Hurricane Harvey.
Blackout notices – In general there is a requirement that blackout notices be provided 30 days in advance. The existing blackout rules provide an exception when circumstances beyond the control of the plan administrator cause the delay. For this exception to apply, there usually would need to be a written determination. With respect to blackout periods related to Hurricane Irma, the Department of Labor will not allege a violation of the blackout notice requirements solely on the basis that a fiduciary did not make the required written determination.
Summary Annual Reports – Summary Annual Reports (SARs) are due two months after the deadline for the Form 5500. Thus, the deadline for SARs is extended when the Form 5500 deadline is extended. For plans entitled to a Form 5500 extension to January 31, 2018, the SAR deadline is extended until March 31, 2018. However, Nova suggests that the SAR be distributed shortly after the Form 5500 is filed unless it is being held up to be bundled with other notices. This will prevent this deadline being inadvertently overlooked. We suggest plan sponsors document the date and method of SAR distribution.
Annual Funding Notices (AFN) – For small plans, the AFN is due the earlier of the fully extended deadline or when the Form 5500 is filed. Thus, the deadline for the AFN is extended when the Form 5500 deadline is extended. For plans entitled to a Form 5500 extension to January 31, 2018, the AFN deadline is extended until the earlier of when the Form 5500 is filed or January 31, 2018. We suggest plan sponsors document the date and method of AFN distribution.