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American Benefits Group - COVID-19 - Important Update

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Category: Commuter, Compliance and Regulatory, Flexible Spending, FSA, HRA, HSA,


COVID-19 Update - Please forward this communication to others in your organization who may need it.


Reminder - We request you help us in an effort to reduce US mail wherever possible

  • Manual Claim Reimbursement: these can be submitted electronically either by uploading information through the participant portal, using the camera feature with our mobile application or faxing to our secure fax viewer.
  • Monthly Administrative Service Fee Invoices Payments: communications have been sent to all AP contacts for each organization. Within the communication, we identify alternative methods of payment.
  • COBRA and Direct Billing: If you are currently receiving your remittances by check we ask that you sign up for ACH. Please reach out to accounting@amben.com.

Important Information About Reimbursement Accounts
We at ABG empathize with you as the HR and benefits teams for your organizations, as you manage the strain and upheaval that the COVID-19 crisis is causing. We will do everything we can to help you in this time of need. Questions can be directed to 800-499-3539, press option 2 at the prompt, or you may send an email to support@amben.com. In the email below please see some important points about Commuter benefits and Dependent Care Assistance Plans. ABG is sending this communication to all of our clients, so it may be that the benefits discussed do not apply to your organization. 

ABG has the health and safety of our own employees in mind. As of Monday, March 16th, we moved our entire workforce to work remotely. Our support team is available as always to handle employees’ claims, questions and employer requests. However, during these unusual times we are emphasizing the need for participants to use our robust technology and to refrain from using the US Mail wherever possible. For reimbursements, please have employees to sign up for direct deposit (instead of through paper check). For submitting claims please submit through the employee WealthCare Portal, the ABG WealthCare Mobile App, or by FAX (with a completed claim form) at 877-723-0147.

Layoffs and Terminations
Please continue to notify ABG promptly of any employee layoffs or terminations – this is critical during this period. Many of you have assumed calendars in place, and if you fail to notify us of changes in their employment status, those calendars would treat employees as actively making payroll contributions. This would mean that no payroll deductions are being taken to match what our system is assuming, and reimbursements would be made in error. IRS rules that govern these plans would not allow for this.

Please notify us promptly of all layoffs and terminations, providing the last work date and the last pay date when a deduction will be taken. If you have an ongoing weekly EDI eligibility file in place, be certain to update any layoffs or terminations in the source system for that file as soon as you can. If you do not have an ongoing eligibility file in place, please send all terminations to processing@amben.com using our Enrollment Submission Spreadsheet. The spreadsheet can be found here: http://amben.com/demos/enrollment/Enrollment_Submission_Spreadsheet.xls
SEND ENCRYPTED: Since the spreadsheet once completed will contain sensitive Personal Information (PI), per privacy regulations it must be emailed in an encrypted manner. If you do not have your own means for sending encrypted emails, you may use our secure email tool – details appear further below in this email.

Employees on Furlough / Leave
When an employee is furloughed, payroll deductions cease as the employee is not receiving pay. To learn how to treat FSA elections during a furlough, please refer to your FSA and Section 125 Cafeteria Plan documents and Summary Plan Description (SPD), in combination with the internal policies for your organization. You may wish to also consult with legal counsel. Should you have any questions, please contact us and we will do our best to answer them.

Working from Home
For employees who are now working from home due to the COVID-19 crisis, or whose commuter needs have otherwise changed significantly, those employees can change their Commuter Transit & Parking and their Dependent Care FSA elections if their need for these benefits decreases or ends completely. All changes are prospective – meaning the new elections must have a future effective date.

Commuter Transit & Parking Elections
Commuter Transit and Commuter Parking are month-to-month benefits, therefore employees can reduce their monthly election amount going forward, including changing that amount to $0.00. This can be changed back at a future date when their commuting needs change again. If you have these benefits with ABG, employees may be receiving these benefits in one of the following ways:

ABG Benefits Card
Any balances currently on the ABG Benefits Card will be available for future purchases as long as the employee remains as an active employee with your organization. April elections may or may not be able to be changed for the ABG Benefits Card, depending on the timing of your own payroll and when in the month you fund employee Transit and Parking benefits. ABG will continue to process any changes submitted to us as soon as possible. 

My Commuter Connect – with Commuter Check Card
Any balances currently on the Commuter Check Card will be available for future purchases as long as the employee remains as an active employee with your organization. The deadline for any changes to Commuter Check Card orders for April has already passed, but changes can be made for May or later months. 

My Commuter Connect – Transit & Parking products other than the Commuter Check Card
For employees who have ordered other transit products through ABG’s My Commuter Connect order fulfillment platform, orders for April cannot be changed as all deadlines for the April benefit month have passed. However, individual transit authorities may have implemented their own refund policies.

For an employee to determine if they can get a refund for a product that they received for April that they will not be able to use, they can visit this site:
https://commuterbenefits.com/covid-19-policies/ 

Please note that this informational page is being constantly being updated, so you and your employees should always refer to the link rather than an older version they might have downloaded. Please make sure employees update any orders they may have in place for the May benefit month. When they log into the My Commuter Connect portal www.mycommuterconnect.com, they will see the cut-off date for changing May orders.

Dependent Care FSA Elections
Dependent Care FSAs are based on annual elections. For the Dependent Care (DCA) benefit, if an employee’s child care or dependent care needs have changed, they can reduce their annual DCA election going forward. You as the employer will need to provide ABG with the revised annual election amount, the first payroll date that the change will be effective, and new per-pay-period deduction amount. As long as you do not terminate these employees they will be able to continue to access any contributions they have made to their account to date for any DCA-eligible child or dependent care needs they continue to have. These amounts will be available for expenses incurred through the end of the current plan year. 

Because under the COVID-19 crisis work arrangements are continuously evolving for many organizations, it’s important to remember that the dates of service of the dependent care come into play. If an employee is working from home, and they are a single parent or if they are married and both parents are working, dependent care expenses for with those dates of service would qualify for reimbursement under the Dependent Care FSA. They could hire someone (who is not also their tax dependent) to care for their children while they are working (both working if married). However, any dates of service that occur when a single employee is not working, or when a married employee is not working or whose spouse is not working, would not qualify for reimbursement under the Dependent Care FSA.

SENDING ENCRYPTED EMAILS
If your organization does not offer encrypted email, you may use our encrypted email service to send email securely to ABG. Please use the following link:
sendsecure.amben.com (https://securemail.nfp.com/securereader/init.jsf?brand=b55e9c17 )

This service is offered through our parent company, NFP Corp., and will be branded as “NFP Initiate Secure Email”. The page will look like this:

If using the service for the first time:
•    Enter your email address, then click Continue.
•    Enter your last name, and click Continue.
•    Create your own password, and then confirm your password.
•    You will receive a verification email containing a link to complete the process. The link must be used within 30 minutes or the process will need to be started again.
•    Once registered, you may visit the same address at any time, sendsecure.amben.com and can use it to send files to processing@amben.com. Please note, you will not be able to copy anyone from your own organization or outside of ABG when sending – we recommend that you send only to processing@amben.com and do not copy anyone else.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like additional information.

American Benefits Group
support@amben.com  |  Tel: 800-499-3539  |  Fax: 877-723-0147
 

American Benefits Group does not provide legal or tax advice. You should consult an attorney or tax professional regarding the application or potential implications of laws, regulations or policies to your specific circumstances.

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