DOL Expands Defined Benefit Plan Relief to Counties in Puerto Rico

The Department of Labor’s Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)—the DOL division with primary oversight over defined benefit pension plans—has issued Disaster Relief Announcement 17-12, which describes special deadline relief granted to plans and designated persons (those responsible for meeting a PBGC deadline) following Hurricane Irma events in Puerto Rico. The relief applies specifically to the municipalities of Culebra and Vieques, but the relief may apply beyond these areas on a case-by-case basis if requested. Note that the DOL could further expand the identified disaster to other areas as well.

This follows similar relief in Announcement 17-11 for various counties in Florida, and Announcement 17-10 for the islands of St. John and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. See the PBGC disaster page for this and other disaster-related response from the PBGC.

Announcement 17-12 explains that for Puerto Rico, certain events whose normal deadline is on or after September 5, 2017, and on or before January 31, 2018, may be completed through January 31, 2018.

The deadline relief applies to the following actions.

  • Payment of PBGC insurance premiums (single and multi-employer plans)
  • Filing termination notices (single-employer plans)
  • Completing the distribution of plan assets (single-employer plans)
  • Filing post-distribution certification, Form 501 (single-employer plans)
  • Filing for distress termination, Form 601
  • Filing a “reportable event” notice
  • Filing Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan
  • Certain plans with underfunding, missed contribution, or funding waivers that must file special actuarial information within 15 days following the filing of their Form 5500, will have until January 31, 2018, for such filing.