DOL Releases ERISA Benefit Plan Enforcement Statistics for (Fiscal Year) 2021

The fact sheet says EBSA has enforcement authority over nearly 734,000 pension plans, 2 million health plans and 662,000 other benefit plans. These plans contain more than $12.9 trillion in assets and cover approximately 158 million workers and their dependents.

The fact sheet also includes summary data on EBSA’s outreach and education efforts, including compliance assistance programs which include the voluntary fiduciary correction program for fiduciary issues and the voluntary compliance by delinquent filers for Form 5500 filing issues. The agency’s budget pays for participant assistance, outreach, rulings, and other agency activities.

The fact sheet also contains data on civil and criminal investigations, with the former leading to greater monetary recovery. For example, of civil investigations conducted in fiscal year 2021, just under 70% resulted in monetary recovery or other corrective action. In addition, the fact sheet highlights non-monetary outcomes specific to health insurance plans. Examples of non-monetary corrective actions include the removal and appointment of trustees and reforms and revisions to plan procedures.

The fact sheet further explains that EBSA focuses on correcting violations at the level of the plan’s service provider. This orientation has the most significant effect on plan members and beneficiaries. For example, in one investigation, a service provider distributed corrected benefit booklets to participants in 76 health insurance plans.

Although EBSA is a small agency, its enforcement actions have consistently produced significant results. For example, EBSA’s monetary recoveries in fiscal year 2021 were more than 13 times the agency’s $181 million budget.

To minimize the likelihood of becoming another EBSA statistic, plan sponsors, administrators, and service providers should monitor and understand ERISA compliance requirements with utmost vigilance.

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