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The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) has authority to impose various monetary civil penalties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). For many years, these various penalties remained unchanged. However, due to relatively recent legislation, the DOL was required to adjust the penalties for inflation by July 1, 2016, and to do so annually hereafter.

In response to that requirement, various DOL penalties have been increased effective August 1, 2016. The following are only a sampling of the new penalty amounts adjusted for inflation:

  Description of ERISA 
  Violations Subject to Penalty 

  Current Penalty
  Amount 

  New Penalty Amount 


  Failure to file Form 5500

  Up to $1,100/day

  Up to $2,063/day

  Failure to provide benefit statements to participant

  Up to $11/employee

  Up to $28/employee

  Failure to provide blackout notices

  Up to $100/day

  Up to $131/day

  Failure to notify participants of certain benefit restrictions
  and/or limitations arising under Internal Revenue Code
  when Plan is underfunded

  Up to $1,000/day

  Up to $1,632/day

  Failure to furnish information requested by Secretary of Labor

  Up to $110/day
  not to exceed
  $1,100/request

  Up to $147/day
  not to exceed
  $1,472/request

  Failure by an employer to inform employees of CHIP coverage
  opportunities – each employee a separate violation

  Up to $100/day

  Up to $110/day

  Failure by a plan administrator to timely provide to any State
  the information required to be disclosed regarding coverage
  coordination – each participant/beneficiary a separate violation

  Up to $100/day

  Up to $110/day

  Cap on unintentional failures to meet genetic information
  requirements

  $500,000 max.

  $549,095 max.

  Failure to provide Summary of Benefits Coverage under the
  Health Care Reform requirements

  Up to $1,000/failure

  Up to $1,087/failure



There are changes in many others and in non-employee benefit plan areas as well. The increase in penalties make using the various programs such as the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program for late Form 5500s more attractive than ever. Of course, the best situation is not to be in the position to worry about penalties to begin with.

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