Form 5500 filings, plan documents, fiduciary policies, third-party agreements, financials, COBRA, HIPAA, employee disclosures; eligibility rules, claims processes, are just some of the topic areas the EBSA (the Department of Labor’s agency responsible for administering, regulating and enforcing the provisions of ERISA) are looking for as part of the joint enforcement effort with the IRS.
With more than 20 major categories, each with their own sub-points, an audit (or investigation) by the DOL can be an employer nightmare.
In an article in AdvisorOne, Andy Larson of the Retirement Learning Center, said in 2011, the EBSA closed 3,472 civil cases and obtained monetary results of nearly $1.39 billion. EBSA also closed 302 criminal cases that resulted in 129 individuals being indicted and 75 cases being closed with guilty pleas and/or convictions. DOL also wants to increase the number of its enforcement personnel from 913 to 1,003 this year.
He called the EBSA enforcement numbers “astonishing,” and warned that many advisors and plan sponsors are surprisingly still unaware that the DOL has jurisdiction over them.
While these metrics are indicative of action against retirement plans, recent legislation has given the DOL and IRS additional resources to enforce compliance of employer benefit plans – not just retirement, but health and welfare plans as well.