EBSA Achieves $1.2 Billion in Total Monetary Results in Fiscal Year 2008
Through its enforcement of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the private employee benefit plan system in the United States.
EBSA’s oversight authority extends to nearly 700,000 retirement plans, approximately 2.5 million health plans, and a similar number of other welfare benefit plans, such as those providing life or disability insurance. These plans cover about 150 million workers and their dependents and include assets of approximately $6 trillion (as of June 30, 2008). Monetary results for FY 2008 were $1.2 billion.
Civil Investigation Statistics Demonstrate Success In Targeting
In FY 2008, EBSA closed 3,570 civil investigations, with 2,696 (75.52%) resulting in monetary results for plans or other corrective action.
EBSA often pursues voluntary compliance as a means to correct violations and restore losses to employee benefit plans. However, in cases where voluntary compliance efforts have failed, or which involve issues for which voluntary compliance is not appropriate, EBSA forwards a recommendation to the Solicitor of Labor that litigation be initiated. In FY 2008, 205 cases were referred for litigation. Together, EBSA and the Solicitor of Labor determine which cases are appropriate for litigation, considering the ability to obtain meaningful relief through litigation, cost of litigation, viability of other enforcement options, and agency enforcement priorities. EBSA cases referred to the Solicitor’s office for litigation are often resolved, with monetary payments, short of litigation. Nationwide in FY 2008, litigation was filed in 91 civil cases.
EBSA Investigations Led To The Indictment Of 101 Persons For Crimes Related To Employee Benefit Plans in FY 2008
EBSA has responsibility to investigate potential violations of the criminal provisions of ERISA and those provisions of Title 18 of the United States Code that relate to employee benefit plans. EBSA conducts most of its criminal investigations under the direction of the United States Attorney for the jurisdiction. Other investigations are conducted in consultation with the appropriate state or local law enforcement authority. Criminal investigations are often conducted jointly with other federal and state law enforcement agencies.
In FY 2008, EBSA closed 212 criminal investigations. EBSA’s criminal investigations, as well as its participation in criminal investigations with other law enforcement agencies, led to the indictment of 101 individuals – including plan officials, corporate officers, and service providers – for offenses related to employee benefit plans.
Compliance Assistance Programs Yielded Tremendous Results
EBSA’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP) and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP) encourage the correction of violations of ERISA by providing significant incentives for fiduciaries and others to self-correct.
The VFCP allows plan officials who have identified certain violations of ERISA to take corrective action to remedy the breaches and voluntarily report the violations to EBSA, without becoming the subject of an enforcement action. In FY 2008, EBSA received 1,658 applications for the VFCP.
The DFVCP encourages plan administrators to bring their plans into compliance with ERISA’s filing requirements. More than 2,200 annual reports were received each month in FY 2008. An online filing and payment option added during FY 2008 has made the program even easier to use.
Record $139.2 Million Restored to Workers Through Informal Complaint Resolution
When workers experience a problem with an employee benefit plan, EBSA has proven effective in resolving their requests for assistance. In FY 2008, EBSA’s Benefits Advisors handled nearly 175,000 inquiries and recovered $139.2 million in benefits on behalf of workers and their families through informal resolution of individual complaints.
Many of the inquiries were received via EBSA’s toll-free number: 1.866.444.EBSA (3272) and Web site: www.askebsa.dol.gov.
These inquiries are also a major source of enforcement leads. When EBSA becomes aware of repeated complaints with respect to a particular plan, employer, or service provider, or when there is information indicating a suspected fiduciary breach, the matter is referred for investigation. In FY 2008, 871 new investigations were opened as a result of referrals from Benefits Advisors.
More Than 2,000 Education And Outreach Events Held In FY 2008
EBSA also conducts education and outreach events for workers, employers, plan officials and members of Congress. These nationwide activities include assisting dislocated workers who are facing job loss, educating employers of their obligations under ERISA, using a train-the-trainer format to inform Congressional staff of EBSA programs for their use in constituent services, and providing employees with information concerning their rights under the law.
Extensive Publication And Web Site Usage Furthers Outreach Efforts
EBSA also reaches workers, retirees, employers, plan service providers, and the public through its printed materials and web site – www.dol.gov/ebsa. English and Spanish language publications featuring participant and compliance assistance information are available through EBSA’s toll-free number. Publications are also available electronically on our web site, which includes consumer information, relevant laws and regulations, technical guidance, seminar schedules, and other valuable resources.
Overall, EBSA’s results demonstrate a strong, fair, and effective program that protects the benefits of America’s workers and retirees.
This fact sheet has been developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Washington, DC 20210. It will be made available in alternate formats upon request: Voice phone: 202.693.8664; TTY: 202.501.3911. In addition, the information in this fact sheet constitutes a small entity compliance guide for purposes of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.