Hello! I'm Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor. Thanks for subscribing to my update for consumers and those interested in retirement issues.
The mission of the Employee Benefits Security Administration is to assure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace-related benefits of America's workers and their families.
I have written in this space before about the great seriousness with which I and the Employee Benefits Security Administration undertake our work safeguarding hardworking Americans' employee benefit plans. These plans cover about 141 million workers and their dependents, and include assets of over $7.6 trillion (as of October 29, 2014).
We accomplish this mission by developing effective regulations; assisting and educating workers, plan sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers; and vigorously enforcing the law.
I am pleased to share with you that in FY 2014, EBSA recovered almost $600 million in direct payments to plans, participants, and beneficiaries. These are actual dollars in the pockets of individuals directly or indirectly through their plans. These recoveries include plan assets restored, participant benefits recovered, disgorgement of profits, and voluntary fiduciary corrections, as well as amounts recovered through the abandoned plan program and informal complaint resolution. The amount of money restored and errors corrected totaled $823.2 million.
Over half of the $600 million recovered comes from informal complaint resolution spearheaded by EBSA's Benefits Advisors. In FY 2014, EBSA's Benefits Advisors closed more than 213,000 inquiries and recovered $356.2 million in benefits on behalf of workers and their families. Many are surprised to hear that these impressive results come from the work of only 125 Benefits Advisors.
One example of the success of requests handled by the Benefits Advisors comes from our Miami District Office. Victoria Yuro has been working for EBSA since 1999. In 2014, she received a call from someone who is currently homeless. He receives mail at his local homeless shelter and received a notice from the Social Security Administration, so he called EBSA to request assistance understanding it. Yuro researched and determined that he was entitled to a retirement benefit because of his service at a company in previous years. She reached the company but because of privacy laws, the plan administrator needed to talk directly with the participant in order to verify the case.
Yuro worked with a case manager at the homeless shelter, the plan administrator, and the participant himself, resulting in a determination that the participant was entitled to receive over $20,000. He has received the money and it has enabled him to open a bank account and to move in to an apartment.
Another example comes from our Atlanta Regional Office. Kandie Carter has been a Benefits Advisor since 2005. One day she got a call from someone who had been trying to obtain her 401(k) distribution from a company that was no longer in business. The funds custodian told her the account had been transferred but did not know where. Carter determined that the company had been acquired by another company and contacted the plan administrator.
The plan administrator confirmed that they did have the previous company's 401(k) plan but did not know how to locate and contact the former plan participants in order to make the distributions. Carter was able to locate and contact 50 plan participants who recovered more than $900,000.
Each and every day, our Benefits Advisors all across the country are helping hardworking men and women and their families recover pension, health, and other benefits that they have been promised and earned. These stories make me so proud of this agency and the very real impact we have on people's lives.
I am committed to ensuring every single dollar that Americans have worked hard for and are counting on to be there for them.
Request assistance from a Benefits Advisor: askebsa.dol.gov or call 1-866-444-EBSA (3272)
• Read more about EBSA's FY 2014 results