The Employee Benefits Security Administration’s Role in ERISA Compliance

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is just one of the divisions operating under the United States Department of Labor. The EBSA’s mission, as stated on its website, is:

“to assure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of America’s workers and their families. We will accomplish this mission by developing effective regulations; assisting and educating workers, fiduciaries and service providers; and vigorously enforcing the law.” (emphasis added)

While the beginning of the mission statement sounds pleasant, it’s the final clause that relates most closely to the EBSA’s role in ERISA compliance.

EBSA Activities and ERISA Compliance

According to a 2017 Fact Sheet, the EBSA’s enforcement of ERISA netted the following results:

  • Recovering Money. The EBSA recovered $1.1 billion while addressing ERISA violations. This is a 41 percent increase over the amount collected in 2016. In addition, certain terminated participants in defined benefit plans collected $326.7 million that might otherwise have remained unpaid.
  • Conducting Civil Investigations. After conducting civil investigations, the EBSA referred about 134 cases for litigation with 50 of the cases resulting in lawsuits filed against ERISA violators.
  • Filing Criminal Indictments. Some violations of ERISA may result in criminal charges being filed by the EBSA in conjunction with law enforcement agencies.
  • Encouraging Voluntary Correction and Compliance. Each year, the EBSA processes applications for the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program and the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program. Both programs allow benefit plan fiduciaries to self-correct certain ERISA violations.
  • Informal Complaints. As participants enrolled in employee benefit plans learn more about their rights, they may be more likely to bring ERISA violations to the attention of the EBSA. In fact, informal complaints from participants are an important source of enforcement leads. In 2017, the EBSA received over 174,000 complaints from employees on benefits compliance issues.
  • Pre-Emptive Education and Outreach. ERISA violations may be avoided by engaging ERISA counsel to provide workers, employers, and plan officials best practices in complying with ERISA regulations. Hall Benefits Law can help!

The Employee Benefits Security Administration’s role in ERISA compliance, then, consists of investigation, imposing of penalties, offering opportunities that lead to voluntary compliance, and encouraging compliance through training and educational opportunities.

Non-Compliance Can Be Costly

At Hall Benefits Law, we work extensively with employee benefit plans, both before and after plans are established. Please call 678-439-6236 to discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney. Our website contains more information about our firm, a Contact Form, and free resources for your review. From our home office in Georgia, we assist clients throughout the United States, from Connecticut to California.

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Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.

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