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American Benefits Council offers help on DOL push to find missing participants

The American Benefits Council is offering to work with the Department of Labor to provide guidance to plan sponsors on finding missing terminated vested participants.

In a letter Thursday to Preston Rutledge, assistant secretary of labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, the trade association offered to work with the government agency to develop guidance so plan sponsors know what to expect moving forward from DOL audits.

ABC said in a news release that DOL strategies to reach missing participants have become "a contentious matter during federal agency benefit plan audits. In the meantime, given the common objectives of the government and employers, the council believes that collaboration between the DOL and private-sector employers can improve the situation."

ABC's letter offered several ideas, including possible pilot projects and opportunities to share strategies that could take place outside the context of a federal agency audit.

The DOL started a pilot program to address the missing participants issue in 2016 out of the EBSA's Philadelphia office and has since expanded it across the country. In fiscal year 2017, the Labor Department recovered $326.7 million for plan participants, and as of early March, the tally was $114.6 million in fiscal 2018, according to agency data.