KnowHow Archive

Plan Sponsor Guide Participant Guide

Warning Signs

You've no doubt seen the occasional headline in your local newspaper about a local employer that has gone out of ­business and "abandoned" its 401(k) plan—or perhaps you have seen a story on about a suit brought by the Department of Labor (DoL) to recover participant deferrals that were never deposited in their 401(k) plans.

Believe me, if you have seen them, so have your participants and, even if they have no reason to be concerned about their 401(k) plan balances, they won't necessarily appreciate that reality.

Through its enforcement of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the private employee benefit plan system in the United States. In fiscal 2007, EBSA's benefits advisers handled more than 161,000 inquiries and recovered $96 million in benefits on behalf of workers and their families through informal resolution of individual complaints.

This month's KnowHow outlines 10 of the warning signs the DoL has identified as potential problems. Sharing this information should provide your participants with some valuable reassurances—and perhaps some information that they can share with family members or colleagues who are not as fortunate. As always, I look forward to your feedback.
Nevin E. Adams, JD