Compliance

DOL Collected Almost $600 Million in 2014 Enforcement Actions

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration says it restored over $599.7 million to employee benefit plans and participants last year.

By John Manganaro editors@plansponsor.com | January 08, 2015
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The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) recovered nearly $600 million for direct payment to employee plans, participants and beneficiaries. 

Part of the Department of Labor, EBSA's oversight authority extends to nearly 684,000 retirement plans, approximately 2.4 million health plans, and a similar number of other welfare benefit plans, such as those providing life or disability insurance. These plans cover about 141 million workers and their dependents and include assets of over $7.6 trillion as of October 29, 2014.

The EBSA shares a breakdown of the 2014 collection actions on its website:

  • Total recoveries – $599.7 million;
  • Plan assets restored/participant benefits recovered – $204.9 million;
  • Voluntary fiduciary correction program – $20.2 million;
  • Abandoned plan program – $18.4 million; and
  • Monetary benefit recoveries from informal complaint resolution – $356.2 million.

EBSA says other civil investigation statistics demonstrate its success in targeting ERISA violators. In fiscal year 2014, EBSA closed 3,928 civil investigations, with 2,541 of those cases (64.7%) resulting in monetary compensation for plans or other corrective action. This represents about a 9% decrease in the rate of infractions found in 2013. Despite a small uptick in the total number of investigations in 2014, the total of nearly $600 million collected was much smaller than the $1.7 billion in plan reimbursements and fines paid in 2013 to settle EBSA criminal cases and civil violations. (The 2013 numbers are reported here.)

As noted by EBSA, plan fiduciaries have the opportunity to proactively correct violations and restore losses to employee benefit plans. However, in cases where voluntary compliance fails or is deemed inappropriate, EBSA works with the Solicitor of Labor to initiate litigation. In FY 2014, 161 cases were referred for litigation. Nationwide in 2014, the department filed suit in 107 civil cases.

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