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DOL Announces Fiscal Year 2020 Enforcement Statistics, Reflecting Record-Setting Recovery Amount



DOL Fact Sheet: EBSA Restores Over $3.1 Billion to Employee Benefit Plans, Participants and Beneficiaries

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The DOL has issued its fiscal year (FY) 2020 enforcement fact sheet, highlighting the recovery of over $3.1 billion in direct payments to plans, participants, and beneficiaries. The fact sheet explains that the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has oversight responsibility over nearly 722,000 retirement plans, 2.5 million health plans, and a similar number of other welfare benefit plans (such as life and disability insurance plans). These plans cover approximately 154 million workers and their dependents, and represent assets exceeding $10.7 trillion. In FY 2020, EBSA conducted 1,122 civil investigations, 754 of which (67%) resulted in monetary results for plans or other corrective action. Nonmonetary corrective actions obtained included removal of plan fiduciaries, appointment of independent fiduciaries, and implementation of new plan procedures.

Of the $3.1 billion in recovered assets, $2.602 billion resulted from enforcement actions, and $456 million was generated by benefit recoveries from informal complaint resolution. For the year, the DOL handled 171,863 inquiries, many received through the EBSA’s toll-free number and website, and opened 357 investigations based on those inquiries. Another $12 million came from voluntary programs (the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP) and the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP)), with EBSA receiving 1,309 VFCP applications and 19,624 DFVCP filings. EBSA closed 230 criminal investigations, which led to 59 guilty pleas or convictions and the indictment of 70 persons (including plan officials, corporate officers, and service providers) for crimes related to employee benefit plans.

EBIA Comment: A related news release shows that monetary recoveries from EBSA enforcement activity have increased significantly over the last few years. Plan fiduciaries and administrators should take note of the EBSA’s enforcement activity and consider performing a self-audit of their plans to identify areas in need of corrective action to limit potential liability exposure. For more information, see EBIA’s ERISA Compliance manual at Section XXXVII (“DOL Audits and Investigations Under ERISA”); EBIA’s Self-Insured Health Plans manual at Section XXXII.B (“DOL Civil Investigations (Audits) Under ERISA”); and EBIA’s 401(k) Plans manual at Section XXXII.C (“DOL Investigations”). You may also be interested in our webinar, “Self-Audit Your Group Health Plan Compliance” (recorded 1/21/2021).

Contributing Authors: EBIA Staff.

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