The mission of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is to ensure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace benefits of America’s workers and their families. During fiscal year 2020, EBSA recovered more than $3.1 billion in direct payments for employee benefit plans and their participants and beneficiaries – a record recovery.
On average, for every day our investigators worked a case, they recovered $38,000. Nearly half of that money came from a program that locates beneficiaries whose plans have lost track of them. Through our Terminated Vested Participant Project, we restored $1.48 billion to 29,600 people.
Three other programs also delivered significant results:
- Our Abandoned Plan Program makes sure that workers receive their pensions from retirement plans that their employers abandoned. During fiscal year 2020, this program recovered $54 million from 882 plans that went directly to American workers and their families.
- The Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Plan and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program encourage fiduciaries and others to self-correct violations. Together these programs led to $12 million in corrective payments to plans, participants and beneficiaries and more than 19,000 delinquent filings being made.
Since fiscal year 2016, EBSA has seen a 310% increase in recoveries and we will continue to improve on our enforcement efforts. But we’re also are committed to providing meaningful compliance assistance to help plan sponsors, participants and beneficiaries understand their rights and responsibilities under employee benefits laws through extensive outreach and education. We were able to continue our efforts virtually throughout the pandemic. We hosted 3,420 outreach events over the year, including 956 for workers who lost their jobs. We also distributed 221,887 educational and compliance assistance publications.
Additionally, EBSA’s benefits advisors responded to over 171,000 inquiries from the public, advising workers, employers and plan officials of their rights and responsibilities, and resolving disputes informally. In doing so, we recovered $456.3 million in benefits without formal investigations or proceedings. And when benefits advisors were not able to make satisfactory recoveries, we opened 357 investigations to follow up.
We are proud of the work we do to protect the benefits of American workers, retirees and plan beneficiaries. Call us at 1-866-444-3272 with any questions about your workplace benefits, or visit dol.gov/agencies/ebsa for more information.
Jeanne Klinefelter Wilson is the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.