EBSA had a busy year, recovering $682.3 million through investigations alone.
When added to sums totaled through informal complaints, abandoned plans and other programs it oversees, the Employee Benefits Security Administration claimed over $1 billion was restored to employee benefit plans, participants and beneficiaries in 2017.
Through its enforcement of ERISA, it closed 1,707 civil investigations with 1,114 of those cases (65.3 percent) resulting in monetary results for plans or other corrective action.
Of the $682.3 million recovered in its investigations, EBSA helped terminated vested participants in defined benefit plans collect benefits of $326.7 million due and owing to them.
EBSA noted that it often pursues voluntary compliance to correct violations and restore losses to employee benefit plans.
“However, in cases where voluntary compliance efforts have failed, or that involve issues for which voluntary compliance is not appropriate, EBSA forwards a recommendation to the Solicitor of Labor to initiate litigation,” it said.
In 2017, 134 cases were referred for litigation, and EBSA closed 307 criminal investigations. EBSA’s criminal investigations, as well as its participation in criminal investigations with other law enforcement agencies, led to the indictment of 113 individuals—including plan officials, corporate officers, and service providers—for offenses related to employee benefit plans.
The Abandoned Plan Program facilitates the termination and distribution of benefits from individual account pension plans that have been abandoned by their sponsoring employers.
During FY 2017, EBSA received 1,004 applications from Qualified Termination Administrators and closed 584 applications with terminations approved, with 586 plans making distributions of $27.9 million directly to participants pursuant to termination.
Lastly, the agency said its Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP) and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP) “encourage the correction of violations of ERISA by providing significant incentives for fiduciaries and others to self-correct.”
The VFCP allows plan officials who have identified certain violations of ERISA to take corrective action to remedy the breaches and voluntarily report the violations to EBSA, without becoming the subject of an enforcement action. In FY 2017, EBSA received 1,303 applications for the VFCP.
The DFVCP encourages plan administrators to bring their plans into compliance with ERISA’s filing requirements. In 2017, 22,139 annual reports (and $14.4 million) were received through this program.