Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

News Release

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Missing Participant Guidance

WASHINGTON, DC The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today announced guidance in its ongoing efforts to help plan fiduciaries meet their obligations under Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to locate and distribute retirement benefits to missing or nonresponsive participants.

Today’s guidance comes in three forms:

  • Best Practices for Pension Plans describes a range of best practices fiduciaries of retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, should consider as steps their plan could take to help reduce missing participant issues and ensure that plan participants receive promised benefits when they reach retirement age;
  • Compliance Assistance Release 2021-01 outlines the general investigative approach that will guide all of EBSA’s Regional Offices under the Terminated Vested Participants Project and facilitate voluntary compliance efforts by plan fiduciaries; and
  • Field Assistance Bulletin 2021-01 authorizes, as a matter of enforcement policy, plan fiduciaries of terminating defined contribution plans use of the PBGC missing participant program for missing or nonresponsive participant’s account balances.

“The guidance issued today reflects our ongoing commitment to help plan fiduciaries ensure that their plan participants and beneficiaries receive the retirement benefits that they worked so hard to earn” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration Jeanne Klinefelter Wilson. “In fiscal year 2020 alone, EBSA’s investigators helped missing and nonresponsive participants recover benefits with a present value in excess of $1.4 billion.”

EBSA’s mission is to assure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of America’s workers and their families. EBSA accomplishes this mission by developing effective regulations and guidance; assisting and educating workers, plan sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers; and vigorously enforcing the law.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Employee Benefits Security Administration
January 12, 2021
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Media Contact: Eric Holland
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