DOL Seeks Comments on Electronic Disclosure by Employee Benefit Plans

The Department of Labor recently announced it is soliciting public comments to assist in determining whether and possibly how to expand or modify current rules regarding the electronic distribution of employee benefit plan information.

Plan information, such as quarterly account statements, is required to be disclosed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which is enforced by the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration.

"Some workers and retirees may not be sufficiently computer literate to receive information electronically or have reasonable access to the Internet, and others may simply prefer traditional paper disclosure," said Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of Labor for EBSA. "But in some instances, electronic disclosure may be just as effective as paper-based communications and could save employers and service providers money. We look forward to reviewing all the comments we receive on these and the other issues raised in the request for information."

DOL's request for information sets forth 30 specific questions on a broad range of topics related to electronic distribution of benefit plan information. The department hopes to hear from plan participants and beneficiaries; employers and other plan sponsors; plan administrators; plan service providers; health insurance issuers; members of the financial community; and the general public. In addition to responding to specific questions contained in the request for information, interested parties are encouraged to address any other relevant matters.

The request for information will be published in the Federal Register on April 7 and can be viewed at http://s.dol.gov/E2. Comments are due by June 6.

Written comments may be addressed to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Room N-5655, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20210, Attn: Electronic Disclosure by Employee Benefit Plans RFI. The public also may submit comments electronically by e-mail to E-ORI@dol.gov or through the federal e-rulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov.

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