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Webinar Recap: 2021 Year-End Employee Benefit Plan Compliance Checklist

By Risk Strategies Employee Benefits Practice


Webinar Recap: 2021 Year-End Employee Benefit Plan Compliance Checklist

Entering the fourth quarter of 2021, focus turns to open enrollment, holidays, and meeting company goals. However, when it comes to employee benefits, satisfying benefit plan compliance obligations should not be forgotten. These may include distributing safe harbor plan notices, meeting reporting obligations, and making required amendments.

To help our clients meet these compliance requirements, we held a webinar on September 28th, 2021, titled “2021 Year-End Benefit Plan Compliance Checklist”. Our guest speakers from the law firm of Ogletree Deakins led the discussion. If you’d like to receive a recording of the webinar, email our team directly. Below is a brief overview of what was discussed.

Annual Compliance Tasks: Year-End 2021 Disclosures

Over the past two years, there has been much attention paid to COVID relief legislation and its affect on employee benefit plans. However, the webinar presenters cautioned against overlooking the standard compliance tasks that generally need to be addressed by most employers. This may include several disclosures that need to be filed by year-end.

The Summary Annual Report was one such disclosure discussed. For many calendar-year plans, it may need to be distributed by September 30th, although the deadline may be November 15 or December 15 if the Form 5500 filing deadline was extended, according to the presenters.

Some of the additional disclosures highlighted during the webinar included:

  • 401(k) Matching Contribution Safe Harbor Notice
  • 401k(k) Automatic Contribution Arrangement
  • Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) document for health insurance plans

Annual Compliance Tasks: Early 2022 Reporting and Disclosures – Federal

It’s also important to start preparing for reports and disclosures needing attention in early 2022, including for compliance with federal laws. Here are a few key items discussed by the webinar presenters:

  • W-2 Forms: These generally must be filed and furnished by January 31.
  • Form 1095-C Documents for Participants: These documents, associated with the Affordable Care Act, generally must be furnished to participants by January 31. However, as in previous years, it is very possible this deadline will once again be extended.
  • Medicare Part D CMS Disclosure: Plan sponsors generally must disclose creditable coverage status to CMS within 60 days after the beginning of each plan year. Thus, for calendar-year plans, March 1 generally serves as the deadline to meet this disclosure requirement.
  • Filing Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C with the IRS: The deadlines for filing these forms with the IRS is generally February 28th for paper filing or March 31 for electronic filing. The Ogletree attorneys emphasized the importance of double-checking forms before they are filed, having seen a significant number of penalty letters issued by the IRS simply because employers neglected to check the proper boxes on forms regarding employee coverage.

Annual Compliance Tasks: Early 2022 Reporting and Disclosures – State

Over the past few years, a growing number of states have introduced their own filing requirements for employers regarding the health insurance plans they offer. During the webinar, the presenters discussed the following states where employers may need to take action:

  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island

Please be sure to reach out to your legal counsel for guidance regarding what action you may need to take to comply with state-level reporting requirements.

Additional Compliance Requirements and Considerations

During the webinar, the presenters covered a wide variety of additional topics that employers may need to address to ensure they are meeting compliance requirements for their employee benefits program. This included:

  • 401(k) Plan Check-Up
  • Nondiscrimination Testing
  • 2022 Updates for Preventive Care Coverage
  • Employer Shared Responsibility Adjustments
  • Cost of Living Adjustments
  • Optional Cafeteria Plan Amendments
  • 2022 Welfare Plan Requirements
  • SECURE Act Amendments
  • Mental Health Parity Analysis

We are grateful to the attorneys from Ogletree Deakins for sharing their expertise during this webinar. If you have any questions about how Risk Strategies can help your team understand and meet these types of compliance requirements, please reach out to a member of our team.


The contents of this article are for general informational purposes only and Risk Strategies Company makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein. Any recommendations contained herein are intended to provide insight based on currently available information for consideration and should be vetted against applicable legal and business needs before application to a specific client.

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