Locating missing participants in a 401(k) plan has become a growing audit and enforcement priority for federal regulators. And despite recent guidelines on the subject from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), it’s often unclear to what lengths a 401(k) plan administrator must go to find missing plan participants owed a benefit.
Also, plan fiduciaries have a duty to protect and preserve participants’ rights to benefits to ensure they receive them in a timely manner—which makes finding missing plan participants an important issue to address.
The DOL guidelines in Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2014-01 outline certain steps the plan administrator is expected to carry out upon learning that a participant is missing, such as using certified mail, checking related plan and employer records for an updated address, or contacting the beneficiary of the plan, and using free electronic search methods, internet search engines, public records databases, social media sites, and obituaries.
According to the DOL, if following these steps doesn’t result in locating the missing participant, the administrator may need to take additional steps, but this is a complicated inquiry depending on a number of factors. And, what’s the plan administrator to do if the participant still cannot be found?
Join us on April 10 for a rebroadcast of a widely popular webinar to learn best practices for establishing a procedure to follow in with missing 401(k) plan participants and understanding when you will have met your obligation in tracking the individuals down.
You’ll learn how to:
- Where to find DOL guidance on the expectations for plan administrators
- What first steps to take, including a certified letter, checking other records for contact information, and using free search tools to locate the individual
- When to consider taking additional steps if the first three steps do not result in finding the participant
- How to contact relatives, friends, and other affiliates
- Whether the possible costs of taking additional steps are worth the effort when weighed with the remaining benefit
- How intricate or creative the fiduciary plan administrator is expected to be in searching for participants
- When the DOL allows for rolling the 401(k) into an IRA or other distribution
- And much more!
YOUR EXPERT INSTRUCTORS
Robert R. Gower, Esq.
Robert Gower concentrates his practice in all aspects of tax-qualified retirement plan design, compliance, and administration. He routinely works with defined benefit, cash balance, profit sharing, 401(k) and KSOP plans. Mr. Gower has wide-ranging experience in plan drafting, including plan documents, amendments, resolutions, and summary plan descriptions (SPDs). He also assists plan sponsors in preparing committee charters and bylaws to help govern plan administration. He routinely works with clients to assist with compliance efforts, including all aspects of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS). He has significant experience helping clients navigate the voluntary compliance program and plan audits.
T. Katuri Kaye, Esq.
Katuri Kaye focuses her practice primarily on qualified retirement plans, including defined benefit and defined contribution plans, and plans of tax-exempt entities and public schools and universities, including 403(b) and 457 plans. Ms. Kaye counsels clients on the design and tax-qualification of retirement plans and the taxation of employee benefits.
This program has been pre-approved for 1.5 hours of general recertification credit toward PHR and SPHR recertification. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit the HR Certification Institute website at www.hrci.org.
Business & Legal Resources (BLR) is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1.5 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit the SHRM Certification website at www.shrm.org/certification.