What is 'Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)'

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) oversees and enforces provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). As an agency of the Department of Labor (DOL), EBSA is charged with enforcing the rules governing the conduct of plan managers, the investment of plan assets, the reporting and disclosure of plan information, the fiduciary provisions of the law, and workers' benefit rights. Simply put, the Employee Benefits Security Administration acts as a watchdog against the inappropriate activities of pension managers.

Breaking Down 'Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)'

The Employee Benefits Security Administration helps educate and assist over 150 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. Its purview covers nearly 700,000 retirement plans, some 2.2 million health plans and millions of welfare and benefit plans representing roughly $10 trillion in assets. For more, see EBSA: What We Do.

Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) Mission

The role of the Employee Benefits Security Administration is as follows: "The mission of the Employee Benefits Security Administration is to assure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of America's workers and their families. We will accomplish this mission by developing effective regulations; assisting and educating workers, plan sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers; and vigorously enforcing the law."

Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) Structure

EBSA has 15 regional and district field offices around the country. These offices conduct investigations into alleged violations of Title I of ERISA. Such offices also handle questions and complaints from pension plan administrators and the public. The EBSA is led by the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits, who is appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As of mid-2018, the position was unoccupied. Under the assistant secretary are Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Operations and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy. 

The Employee Benefits Security Administration is divided into nine program offices. They are:

  • Office of Exemption Determinations: Processes requests for exemptions from ERISA’s prohibited transaction provisions for individuals and classes.
  • Office of Enforcement: Conducts EBSA's enforcement program.
  • Office of Policy and Research: Provides policy analysis and conducts economic research related to all benefits policy-related developments and activities.
  • Office of Health Plan Standards and Compliance Assistance: Provides regulations and rule interpretation guidance related to health plans. Also educates and provides technical support to health plans and government agencies.
  • Office of Regulations and Interpretations: Carries out EBSA’s regulatory agenda and rule interpretation activities. Also develops, analyzes and implements pension and health care policy issues by providing technical assistance and support.
  • Office of the Chief Accountant: Provides annual reporting and audit requirements to employee benefit plans. Also enforces those provisions via civil penalties against plan administrators whose annual report is rejected.
  • Office of Technology and Information Services: Provides computer support and services to EBSA staff nationwide.
  • Office of Outreach Education and Assistance: Assists in participants and administrators with its staff of benefits advisors, who answer questions and complaints. Also establishes outreach policies and procedures, as well as provides oversight and support to the regional offices.
  • Office of Program Planning Evaluation and Management: Advises and provides oversight related to the development, implementation and evaluation of EBSA policy. Also includes strategic planning, financial management, budgeting, human resources and administrative programs.
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