Plan administrators who fail to disclose certain documents to participants, beneficiaries, and others may face up to $1,000 per day per violation in civil penalties, according to a final regulation recently released by the DOL.
The regulation, which was published in the Federal Register on January 2, 2009 (Vol. 74, No. 1), implements the department’s authority to assess civil penalties for those who violate certain disclosure requirements outlined in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) as amended by the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA).
Under the PPA, new disclosure provisions were established relating to:
- funding-based limits on benefit accruals and certain forms of benefit distributions;
- plan actuarial and financial reports,
- withdrawal liability of contributing employers, and
- participants’ rights and obligations under automatic contribution arrangements.
The final regulation outlines administrative procedures for assessing and contesting related civil penalties. For example, after receiving a written notice of the DOL’s intent to assess a penalty, a plan administrator has 30 days to explain in writing why the proposed penalty should be reduced or not assessed at all.