PBGC Floats Hurricane Relief

By John Iekel • September 14, 2017 • 0 Comments
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), like the IRS and the Department of Labor, is granting some forms of relief to certain victims of Hurricane Irma. The PBGC in Disaster Relief Announcement 17-11, issued on Sept. 12, said that in response to Hurricane Irma it is waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines that began on Sept. 4, 2017 in Florida.

Persons Covered

The new relief applies to any “Designated Person,” defined as one who:

  • is responsible for meeting a PBGC deadline and is located in the disaster area for which the IRS in FL-2017-04 provided relief regarding filing extensions for Form 5500 series returns;

  • cannot reasonably obtain information or other assistance needed to meet the deadline from a service provider or bank; or

  • whose operations that began on Sept. 4, 2017 in Florida are directly affected by Hurricane Irma.

The disaster area to which FL-2017-04 — and therefore also Disaster Relief Announcement 17-11 — applies to the Florida counties of Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Duval, Flagler, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Putnam, Sarasota and St. Johns.

Premiums

If the plan administrator of a plan is a Designated Person, the PBGC will, for purposes of assessing any late payment or late information penalty, treat as timely any premium filing required to be made for the plan beginning on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and on or before Jan. 31, 2018, if the filing is made by Jan. 31, 2018. Thus, for any such filing, PBGC will waive the applicable penalty, but not the applicable interest charge.

Reportable Event Notices

If a Designated Person is responsible for filing a reportable event post-event notice for which the deadline falls on or after Sept.4, 2017, and on or before Jan. 31, 2018, that person’s deadline for filing is extended to Jan. 31, 2018.

The PBGC’s regulation on post-event notices of reportable events extends the reporting deadline for an active participant reduction event due to attrition until the premium due date for the plan year following the one in which the event took place. If such an extension applies to a reportable event notice, and the premium due date for the plan year following the event year is extended because of a disaster, the extended due date for the reportable event notice is further extended until the extended premium due date.

In the case of notices required in advance of the effective date of a reportable event, PBGC will grant relief where appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

Annual Employer Reporting

The PBGC will grant relief where appropriate on a case-by-case basis for annual financial and actuarial information reports in certain cases.

The PBGC’s regulation on Annual Financial and Actuarial Information Reporting permits the filing of certain actuarial information by an alternative due date, which is 15 days after a plan’s Form 5500 due date, if certain requirements are met. If such an alternative due date is based on a Form 5500 for which there is a Form 5500 disaster extension, the 15-day period in PBGC’s regulation will automatically be measured from the Form 5500 disaster extension date.

Requests for Reconsideration or Appeals

The deadline for requesting review of a PBGC determination under PBGC’s regulation on Rules for Administrative Review of Agency Decisions is generally 45 days (for an appeal) or 30 days (for a request for reconsideration) after the date of the determination. If a Designated Person is aggrieved by a PBGC determination, and the deadline for filing an appeal or a request for reconsideration of the determination falls on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and on or before Jan. 31, 2018, that person’s deadline for filing the appeal or request for reconsideration is extended to Jan. 31, 2018.

Plan Terminations

Disaster Relief Announcement 17-11 spells out the deadlines that apply for a plan between Sept. 4, 2017 and Jan. 31, 2018 if the plan administrator of a plan that is terminating in a standard termination is a Designated Person.

If the plan administrator of a plan that is terminating in a distress termination is a Designated Person and the deadline for filing the distress termination notice falls on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and on or before Jan. 31, 2018, that deadline is extended to Jan. 31, 2018.

Claiming Relief

To claim disaster relief, follow the instructions (if any) for claiming disaster relief for the filing. If there are none, then for any permitted paper filing (including a paper filing that is sent via fax or as an imaged attachment to an e-mail), include the words “Disaster Relief Announcement 17-11” at the top of the filing. Any inquiry or bill from the PBGC that appears not to take disaster relief into account the inquiry or bill should be returned to the PBGC with the same wording written at the top.

Not All-Inclusive

Disaster Relief Announcement 17-11 does not cover every situation in which PBGC disaster relief may be warranted:

  • It does not capture every person that might experience difficulty in meeting a PBGC deadline for reasons relating to the Hurricane Irma.

  • It does not grant specific disaster relief for all filings.

Those affected by the Hurricane Irma who need relief from the PBGC that is not covered by Disaster Relief Announcement 17-11 should contact the PBGC to request case-by-case relief.