The Department of Labor (DOL) has increasingly been focusing their enforcement activities on ERISA compliance. The DOL reported recoveries of $2.5 billion in direct payments to benefit plans, participants, and beneficiaries in fiscal year 2019, which is more than a 50% increase from fiscal year 2018.
For retirement plans, the DOL helped participants collect nearly $1.5 billion in benefits owed to them under the Terminated Vested Participant Project, which is aimed at ensuring defined benefit plans properly communicate benefit eligibility of terminated vested participants. Additionally, the DOL has been focusing on its missing participant program, which requires retirement plans to conduct a diligent search to find missing participants who have failed to keep their contact information current with the plan. It is likely these types of enforcement activities will continue through 2020.
On the health plan side, the DOL has identified three compliance areas that it intends to focus on: mental health parity, proper coverage of emergency room services, and service provider self-dealings. Mental health parity compliance may be especially important, as Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee asked the DOL for more information about its efforts regarding enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.