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Employee Benefits Security Administration
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About the Employee Benefits Security Administration

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Our Customer Service Commitment

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is committed to educating and assisting the 142 million workers, retirees and their families covered by approximately 677,000 private retirement plans, 2.4 million health plans, and similar numbers of other welfare benefit plans holding approximately $8.4 trillion in assets; as well as plan sponsors and members of the employee benefits community. EBSA balances proactive enforcement with compliance assistance and works diligently to provide quality assistance to plan participants and beneficiaries. It is the policy of EBSA to provide the highest quality of service to its customers.

Direct Assistance to the Public

EBSA's goal in providing direct assistance is to raise the knowledge level of plan participants and beneficiaries, plan sponsors, service providers and other interested parties and to ensure that they have access to available plan documents filed with the Department of Labor.

This enables participants to better understand and exercise their rights under the law and, when possible, to recover any benefits to which they may be entitled. This also allows plan administrators and practitioners the opportunity to better understand and comply with the law.

If you telephone our office, you can expect

  • A friendly, courteous voice
  • A return call no later than the end of the next business day

If you write our office, you can expect

  • A written reply within 30 days after we receive your letter
  • A clear, easy to understand response to your letter

You will always receive straightforward information on how the law applies to your circumstances, information about options that may be available, respect for your privacy and the name of the EBSA employee assisting you.

Individual Participant Assistance

Individualized participant assistance is offered by Benefits Advisors in our national and field offices. When you write, call, communicate with us electronically, or visit our offices in search of assistance, you will receive information that will inform you of your rights and responsibilities and help you in obtaining benefits to which you are entitled. We are available to explain how the relevant statutes EBSA enforces apply to you and, in appropriate cases, the Agency will make inquiries on your behalf and seek resolution of disputes. Such resolution will be informal and generally will not include litigation on your behalf or provision of legal advice. We will be vigilant in identifying and acting upon patterns of complaints.

Consumer Complaints

Complaints involving alleged violations of ERISA are handled by Benefit Advisors in our national and field offices. Those who file complaints with us can expect a prompt and courteous response from our staff. Every complaint received will be pursued and, if determined to be valid, resolution will be sought through informal dispute resolution.  You can expect to receive a status report from the assigned benefits advisor every 30 days.  If your valid complaint cannot be resolved informally, it may be referred for further review by our enforcement staff.  While we cannot ensure that every complaint will result in an investigation, at the conclusion of enforcement activity, if requested, we will furnish an understandable explanation of the outcome of our review and investigation.

When you write, call or communicate with us electronically for assistance or with a complaint, we need certain information to help you. It would be helpful to have this information available when you telephone. If you write us, you should include this information in your correspondence or email:

  • Your name and daytime telephone number
  • A brief explanation of your problem
  • Evidence that you have filed a claim for benefits
  • Name, address and telephone number of your employer or plan official to be contacted
  • Your permission to inquire on your behalf, if necessary
  • Employment dates, birth date, social security number, policy number or other identification numbers

For technical assistance and complaints, you should call EBSA's toll free number at 866-444-3272. You may contact us electronically at www.askebsa.dol.gov. Please note: The law is not all-encompassing and you may not always be pleased with the remedy or with the explanation you receive. Also, some actions of employers may not always seem fair or honorable yet may be legal. We will be sensitive to your situation but may not always be able to provide you with a solution.

Requesting Documents From EBSA

Requests for plan documents on file with the Department of Labor are handled by the EBSA Public Disclosure staff. Our employees are available during regular office hours to process your requests. You should expect your request to be handled in a timely, courteous and efficient manner.  Our policy is to fill all requests for:

  • Form 5500s within 5 days
  • Other documents on hand in the Public Disclosure Room within 10 days

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 eliminates the requirement of plans to file Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) and Summary of Material Modifications (SMMs) with EBSA. SPDs and SMMs filed with the agency before that date may be on file and are available upon request if they are maintained. If a plan participant or beneficiary wishes a more recent copy of the SPD or SMM, the agency will request a copy from the plan administrator.

EBSA does maintain an extensive library of SPDs filed prior to 1997. Requests for those documents will be filled within 10 days, provided that EBSA has the document in its library. Requests for documents related to more than five plans may take more time to process. SPD requests that require contact with the plan to obtain a copy may take 30 to 60 days.

All large special requests will be acknowledged within 5 working days. At that time, our staff will provide an estimated date for completion and will keep you apprised of any problems arising during the processing stage.

All requests for documents submitted under the Freedom of Information Act will be filled or acknowledged within 20 days after receipt by the disclosure officer.

All document requests will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. We will inform requestors of any backlog.

We need certain information to help you when you contact our disclosure office for assistance, either by telephone or by mail:

  • Name of plan
  • Name of employer
  • Employer identification and plan number, if known

More information about requesting documents from EBSA is available on our FOIA web page. Send requests for copies of documents to:

U.S. Department of Labor
Employee Benefits Security Administration
Public Disclosure Room
200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Suite N-1515
Washington, DC 20210
Tel (202) 693-8673

Rulings and Opinions

EBSA's goal in responding to requests for interpretations and other rulings is to facilitate compliance with ERISA, and the department's regulations through useful and timely interpretive guidance to plan participants, plan sponsors and other members of the employee benefits community.

Such requests under Title I of ERISA are handled by EBSA's Office of Regulations and Interpretations (ORI) under the provisions established by ERISA Procedure 76-1 (41 Federal Register 36281, August 27, 1976). The office generally answers inquiries from individuals and organizations in the form of advisory opinions, which apply the law to a specific set of facts, or information letters, which merely call attention to well established principles or interpretations.

Requests for guidance related to Part 7 of Title I of ERISA, those provisions related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act and the Mental Health Parity Act, are handled by EBSA's Office of Health Plan Standards and Compliance Assistance (OHPSCA).

Requests for interpretations and other rulings will be acknowledged within 2 weeks of receipt. Each acknowledgment letter will identify the employee benefits law specialist to whom the request has been assigned and a telephone number for directing questions concerning the request. EBSA's goal is to provide a response or assessment of the request within 180 days of receipt. Applicants will be kept informed of the status of their request on a periodic basis. Applicants will be treated courteously and with respect. Send requests for interpretations and other rulings to either ORI or OHPSCA as described above at the following addresses:

U.S. Department of Labor
Employee Benefits Security Administration
Office of Regulations and Interpretations
200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Suite N-5655
Washington, DC 20210
Tel (202) 693-8500

U.S. Department of Labor
Employee Benefits Security Administration
Office of Health Plan Standards and Compliance Assistance
200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Suite N-5653
Washington, DC 20210
Tel (202) 693-8335

Exemption Determinations

Applications for exemptions under Title I of ERISA are handled by EBSA's Office of Exemption Determinations (OED). OED staff will advance the protections of ERISA by timely processing of exemption requests under Title I of ERISA, ensuring the establishment of effective conditions and safeguards to protect plans, participants and beneficiaries, and facilitating meritorious transactions that would otherwise be prohibited. In processing exemptions, we will minimize regulatory and administrative burdens to the extent feasible, while protecting the rights of plan participants and beneficiaries.

All applicants for exemptions will be acknowledged and assigned to an analyst within 2 weeks of receipt. The analyst will provide a preliminary reaction to the application within 30 days. The name and telephone number of the analyst will also be provided as the contact person for information concerning the status of the application.

Applicants will be kept informed of any significant developments in the processing of the request and any change to the estimated completion date. Applicants will be treated courteously and with respect.  Send applications for exemptions to:

U.S. Department of Labor
Employee Benefits Security Administration
Office of Exemption Determinations
200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Suite N-5700
Washington, DC 20210
Tel (202) 693-8540

Service Improvement Plan

EBSA wants to give all of our customers the best service possible. You may email the national office or contact the EBSA office nearest you. We will continue to evaluate and improve our service and will survey our customers from time to time to determine whether we are meeting your needs.

We care about what you think of our services and welcome your comments and suggestions. Please feel free to let us know what you think of the service you received.  Send your comments to:

U.S. Department of Labor
Employee Benefits Security Administration
200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Suite N-5623
Washington, DC 20210
Attn: Customer Service Representative