Boston ERISA Attorney Discusses Increased Penalties for ERISA Violations

When Congress enacted ERISA, it left the details of the terms of employee benefits to employers. The ERISA statute emphasizes the need for employers to provide information about employee benefit plans to employees. As a consequent, ERISA administrators must respond to written requests for information. ERISA 502(c), 29 U.S.C. 1132(c) provides for penalties for an administrator’s refusal to timely deliver to employees, participants and plan beneficiaries basic information.

On November 2, 2015, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 which required increasing penalties effective July 1, 2016. Each government agency must adjust their civil monetary penalties for inflation annually. Agencies across the federal government must determine the last time their penalties were

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued final regulations that include the agency’s 2017 annual inflation adjustments to civil money penalties assessed in its regulations, effective January 13, 2017. Penalties for not producing welfare-benefit plans, those plans offering health, life, disability and other non-pension benefits rose from $110 per day to $147 per day. The chart below details the current penalties set by the Secretary of Labor:

ERISA Provision Description of Violation 2017 Penalty (As Adjusted)