The number of enforcement actions at the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration and the amount recovered from them both dipped in fiscal year 2021 after a major increase the previous year.
The EBSA recovered $1.9 billion from its investigations during the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, down from $2.6 billion in fiscal 2020 and $2 billion in fiscal 2019.
In total, the EBSA recovered more than $2.4 billion for direct payments to plans, participants and beneficiaries in 2021, down from $3.1 billion last year and $2.6 billion in 2019, according to a Labor Department fact sheet published Tuesday.
Of the $1.9 billion recovered in enforcement actions, roughly $1.5 billion was from its Terminated Vested Participant Project, which encompasses missing participants. That project also recovered $1.5 billion in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
The EBSA's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program — which allows plan officials to remedy ERISA violations they've identified and voluntarily report them to the agency without facing an enforcement action — received 1,201 applications during the fiscal year, down from 1,309 applications in 2020.
Also, the Abandoned Plan Program, which facilitates the termination and distribution of benefits from individual account pension plans abandoned by their sponsoring employers, received 1,770 applications in the fiscal year, approving 923 of them. In 2020, the Abandoned Plan Program received 1,161 applications, closing 1,110 of them.
The EBSA's oversight authority extends to nearly 734,000 retirement plans, about 2 million health plans, and 662,000 other welfare benefit plans, such as those providing life or disability insurance, the Labor Department noted. These plans cover about 158 million workers and their dependents and have more than $12.9 trillion in assets.