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Employee Benefits Security Administration

EBSA Enforcement Manual Table Of Contents


General Operational Procedures

Authority and Coordination

Administrative Procedures

Enforcement Programs


Statement of Purpose

The Employee Benefits Security Administration published this manual solely for the internal administrative use of its employees. This manual does not restrict or limit in any way the Employee Benefits Security Administration's discretion in carrying out responsibilities imposed on the Secretary of Labor by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Nothing in this manual is intended to be an interpretation of law or regulation or to serve as guidance for persons outside the Department of Labor. Nor does this manual confer on any person, including one who is the subject of an Employee Benefits Security Administration investigation or enforcement action, a right to rely on any policy or procedure stated herein, or otherwise create any other substantive or procedural rights.

Description of Employee Benefits Security Administration

Employee Benefits Security Administration is an agency within the Department of Labor that administers and enforces the provisions of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Act which established fiduciary and other standards for employee benefit plans sponsored by private-sector employers. Employee Benefits Security Administration is directed by an Assistant Secretary who is appointed by the President and who reports directly to the Secretary of Labor. Employee Benefits Security Administration headquarters are located in Washington, D.C. and its enforcement activities are conducted primarily in Employee Benefits Security Administration field offices located in 15 cities throughout the United States. There are over 400 investigators/auditors working out of the field offices, all of whom are highly skilled professionals. Many are lawyers or Certified Public Accountants and others have advanced degrees in business and finance.  The Office of Enforcement in EBSA's national office is responsible for operational review and oversight, enforcement policy

Employee Benefits Security Administration shares responsibility with the Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation for the administration and enforcement of the provisions of ERISA.  Under ERISA, the Secretary of Labor is responsible for protecting the rights and financial security of more that 150 million employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries and for assuring the integrity and effective management of the private pension and welfare benefit system. Employee Benefits Security Administration has enforcement authority over employee benefit plans covering workers in such diverse industries as communications, retailing, shipping, insurance, real estate and financial services. Employee benefit plans invest in a variety of investment vehicles, including securities, real estate, and debt instruments. Individuals and companies who provide services to employee benefit plans, such as investment advisors, trust departments, insurance companies, consultants and others, also come within the jurisdiction of Employee Benefits Security Administration's enforcement program.

In carrying out its enforcement responsibilities, Employee Benefits Security Administration conducts a wide range of activities, including civil and criminal investigations, to determine whether the provisions of ERISA and the sections of Title 18, as they relate to employee benefit plans, have been violated.

Acronyms and Abbreviations

  • ACA – Affordable Care Act
  • APP – Abandoned Plan Program
  • COBRA – Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act
  • Department - Department of Labor
  • DOL - Department of Labor
  • DES - Division of Enforcement Support
  • DFO - Division of Field Operations
  • DO - District Office
  • DOJ - Department of Justice
  • DRC - Division of Reporting Compliance
  • DS – District Supervisor
  • DTAI - Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries
  • EBSA – Employee Benefits Security Administration
  • ERISA - Employee Retirement Income Security Act
  • FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • FDIC - Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • FOIA - Freedom of Information Act
  • FRB - Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • HHS – Health and Human Services, Department of
  • HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
  • HMO – Health Maintenance Organization
  • IRC - Internal Revenue Code
  • Code - Internal Revenue Code
  • IRS - Internal Revenue Service
  • MEWA - multiple employer welfare arrangement
  • MHPA – Mental Health Parity Act
  • MHPAEA - Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act
  • MOU – Memorandum of Understanding
  • NCUA - National Credit Union Administration
  • NO – National Office
  • OCA - Office of the Chief Accountant
  • OCC - Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  • OE - Office of Enforcement
  • OED - Office of Exemption Determinations
  • OIG – Office of the Inspector General
  • OPM - Office of Personnel Management
  • OHPSCA – Office of Health Plan Standards and Compliance Assistance, EBSA
  • OLR – Office of Labor Racketeering
  • OOCR - Office of Organized Crime and Racketeering
  • OEA – Office of Outreach, Education and Assistance, EBSA
  • OPM – Office of Personnel Management
  • OPPEM - Office of Program Planning, Evaluation and Management
  • ORI – Office of Regulations and Interpretations, EBSA
  • OTS - Office of Thrift Supervision
  • PA – Plan Administrator
  • PBGC - Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
  • PBSD – Plan Benefits Security Division, SOL
  • PHS – Public Health Service
  • PRA – Paperwork Reduction Act
  • PTE – Prohibited Transaction Exemption
  • PWBA – Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration
  • RD - Regional Director
  • RFPA - Right to Financial Privacy Act
  • RI - Report of Interview
  • RO - Regional Office
  • ROI - Report of Investigation
  • RSOL - Regional Office of the Solicitor
  • SBREFA – Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act
  • SEC – Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Secretary - Secretary of Labor
  • SOL - Office of the Solicitor
  • SPD – Summary Plan Description
  • SSN – Social Security Number
  • TE/GE – Tax Exempt and Government Entities, IRS
  • USAO - U.S. Attorney's Office
  • UCC – Uniform Commercial Code
  • UST – U.S. Trustee’s Office
  • VC – Voluntary Compliance
  • VFCP – Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
  • WHCRA – Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act