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Employee Benefits Security Administration

EBSA Restores Over $696.3 Million to Employee Benefit Plans, Participants and Beneficiaries

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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 681,000 retirement plans, approximately 2.3 million health plans, and a similar number of other welfare benefit plans, such as those providing life or disability insurance. These plans cover about 143 million workers and their dependents and include assets of over $ 8.7 trillion (as of October 2, 2015). In FY 2015, EBSA recovered $ 696.3 million for direct payment to plans, participants and beneficiaries.(1) (Discussed below).

Total Monetary Results

Total Recoveries

Plan Assets Restored/
Participant Benefits Recovered

Voluntary Fiduciary
Correction Program

Abandoned Plan Program

Monetary Benefit Recoveries from Informal Complaint Resolution

$696.3 M

$265.3 M

$14.3 M

$13.8 M

$402.9 M

Civil Investigation Statistics Demonstrate Success in Targeting

In FY 2015, EBSA closed 2,441 civil investigations with 1,640 of those cases (67.2%) resulting in monetary results for plans or other corrective action, exhibiting its ability to effectively target ERISA violators in the employee benefit plan universe.

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 that involve issues for which voluntary compliance is not appropriate, EBSA forwards a recommendation to the Solicitor of Labor to initiate litigation. In FY 2015, 136 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 2015, the Department filed suit in 89 civil cases.

Civil Investigations

Civil Investigations Closed

Civil Investigations Closed
with Results

Percent Civil Investigations
Closed with Results

Civil Investigations
Referred for Litigation

Civil Cases with
Litigation Filed






EBSA Investigations Led to the Indictment of 61 Persons for Crimes Related To Employee Benefit Plans in FY 2015

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 with other federal law enforcement agencies under the direction of the United States Attorney for that jurisdiction. Other investigations are conducted in consultation with the appropriate state or local law enforcement authority.

In FY 2015, EBSA closed 275 criminal investigations. EBSA's criminal investigations, as well as its participation in criminal investigations with other law enforcement agencies, led to the indictment of 61 individuals including plan officials, corporate officers, and service providers for offenses related to employee benefit plans.

Criminal Investigations

Criminal Investigations Closed

Criminal Investigations Closed
with Guilty Pleas or Convictions

Number of Individuals Indicted




Abandoned Plan Program

The Abandoned Plan Program facilitates the termination of, and distribution of benefits from individual account pension plans that have been abandoned by their sponsoring employers. During FY 2015, EBSA received 590 applications from Qualified Termination Administrators and closed 207 applications with terminations approved, with 205 plans making distributions of $13.8 million directly to participants pursuant to termination.

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 2015, EBSA received 1,478 applications for the VFCP.

The DFVCP encourages plan administrators to bring their plans into compliance with ERISA's filing requirements. More than 22,800 annual reports were received through this program in FY 2015.

Correction Programs

VFCP Applications Received

DFVCP Filings Received



$402.9 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 2015, EBSA's Benefits Advisors closed more than 201,000 inquiries and recovered $402.9 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

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 2015, 589 new investigations were opened as a result of referrals from Benefits Advisors.

Inquiry Statistics

Total Inquiries

Monetary Benefit Recoveries
from Informal Complaint Resolution

Investigations Opened
from Inquiry Referrals


$402.9 M


Over 1,800 Education and Outreach Events held in FY 2015

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.

Outreach, Education and Assistance

Dislocated Worker
Rapid Response Sessions

Congressional Briefings

Compliance Assistance Activities

Other Participant Assistance
and Public Awareness Activities

Total Outreach Events






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 website at 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 its website, which gives users access to consumer information, relevant laws and regulations, technical guidance, seminar schedules, and other valuable resources.

Publications and Website

Publications Distributed

Website Visitors


7.72 M

Overall, EBSA's results demonstrate a strong, fair, and effective program that protects the benefits of America's workers and retirees.


  1. 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 Agency's total monetary results for the year (including prohibited transactions corrected with no money exchanged and plan assets protected) were $837.5 million.

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 format upon request: Voice telephone: (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.