In recent years, there has been an upward trend of regulators focusing on the issue of retirement plan participants not collecting retirement benefits upon reaching retirement age (and we have previously covered the final rule on the missing participants program on this blog). Although there are many reasons why individuals delay collection, in some cases, the individuals are not starting their benefit payments because they are “missing”—meaning the administrators of their retirement plans cannot locate them or the plans lack critical identifying information to locate them.
The issue of “missing participants” in ERISA plans has been the subject of investigations by the US Department of Labor (DOL) and the focus of other regulators, including the Internal Revenue Service. In light of this increased regulatory focus, plan sponsors may want to take steps to ensure they understand their fiduciary duties regarding missing participants and the DOL’s position on these duties.
Our recent Insight page provides more background on this issue, including recommendations to the DOL for appropriate guidance in this area.