NU Online News Service, Jan. 30, 2004, 3:43 p.m. EST – The federal government is asking for public comments on employee benefit plan claim denial rules.[@@]

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 requires a benefit plan sponsor to issue a written or electronic notice every time it denies a claim. The notice must give the reasons for the denial and tell the claimant how to file an appeal.

Congress included the notice requirement in ERISA in an effort to ensure that benefit plans give each claim a full, fair review, and to ensure that claimants get enough information to appeal denials.

Now, to comply with federal paperwork reduction rules, the Office of Management and Budget is conducting a routine review of the ERISA claim denial rules for the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Labor Department estimates in an announcement of the review that the ERISA denial rules cost 6.7 million respondents about $90.6 million per year.

“The OMB is particularly interested in comments which evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the [Labor Department], including whether the information will have practical utility,” according to Ira Mills, the Labor Department clearance officer who prepared the announcement, which appears today in the Federal Register.

The OMB also wants comments about “the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information” and ideas about ways to “minimize the burden of the collection of information,” Mills writes.

Members of the public who want to comment must submit their comments within 30 days to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attention: OMB Desk Officer for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Room 10235, Washington, D.C. 20503.

The announcement is on the Web at http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2004/04-1952.htm