The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is tasked with ensuring the integrity of employer-sponsored pension and welfare plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and enforcement of participants’ rights under those plans. It recently released a Fact Sheet highlighting its work for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022. The Fact Sheet is available here. EBSA is aggressive in its role as plan watchdog as illustrated by the following excerpts from that report.
“EBSA oversees approximately 747,000 retirement plans, 2.5 million health plans, and 673,000 other welfare benefit plans. These plans cover 152 million workers, retirees, and dependents and the pension plans alone hold an estimated $12 trillion in assets.”
“In FY 2022, EBSA recovered over $1.4 billion for plans, participants, and beneficiaries. It closed 907 civil investigations with 595 of those cases (66 percent) resulting in monetary results for plans or other corrective actions. EBSA’s enforcement program also obtains non-monetary corrections and injunctive relief in civil cases that result in increased protections for plan assets and benefits.”
“When workers experience a problem with an employee benefit plan, they can directly contact EBSA Benefits Advisors for assistance. In FY 2022, EBSA Benefits Advisors closed more than 168,000 inquiries and recovered $422.1 million in benefits on behalf of workers and their families through informal resolution of individual complaints. Many of the inquiries came via EBSA’s toll-free number 1-866-444-EBSA (3272) or its web portal at askebsa.dol.gov.”
“These inquiries sometimes lead to enforcement actions. EBSA will refer an inquiry for investigation when the agency becomes aware of repeated complaints against a particular plan, employer, or service provider or when there is information indicating a violation of ERISA. In FY 2022, EBSA opened 268 new investigations based on Benefits Advisors referrals.”
“EBSA also has responsibility for investigating potential violations of the criminal provisions of ERISA and the 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 2022, EBSA closed 164 criminal investigations. EBSA’s criminal investigations, as well as its participation in criminal investigations with other law enforcement agencies, led to the indictment of 103 individuals – including plan officials, corporate officers, and service providers – for offenses related to employee benefit plans.”
The information and content contained in this blog post are for general informational purposes only, and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. As always, for specific questions concerning your health and welfare plan, or for help in operating your plan during the current COVID-19 crisis, please consult your own ERISA attorney or professional advisor.