DOL Revises Electronic Fee Disclosure Guidance for Pension Plans

The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) recently issued Technical Release 2011-03R.  Technical Release 2011-03R revises and clarifies Technical Release 2011-3, [pdf.] which was issued by the EBSA on September 3, 2011, as an interim enforcement policy regarding the use of electronic media to satisfy the pension plan disclosure requirements under ERISA.  Specifically, the EBSA clarifies that pension plan administrators may disclose certain participant-level fee disclosures  (i.e., the comparative chart), electronically as part of, or along with, a pension benefit statement, if the electronic method meets either (i) the existing electronic media disclosure safe harbor regulations or (ii) the six (6) conditions for electronic disclosure set forth in the Technical Release.  Notably, the EBSA clarified that use of continuous access websites may also satisfy the conditions.  

In the new release the EBSA announced that they will not take any enforcement action against a plan administrator that complies with the conditions set forth in Technical Release 2011-03R  until the EBSA issues further guidance.  The relief is specifically limited to the requirements for administrators to furnish participants with certain information in participant-directed individual account plans.  The EBSA also added that no inferences should be drawn that the rules announced in the Technical Release will result in changes to the current safe harbor electronic disclosure regulations.

Administrators should review, and update as necessary, their methods for delivering participant-level fee disclosures to ensure that the methods comply with the requirements set forth in Technical Release 2011-03R.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.