As a practical matter, an employer has little control over whether it will be audited by the DOL. However, an employer can take the following steps to help minimize its exposure to a DOL audit:
- Contact Cherry Creek Benefits to discuss these issues and review options and customized solutions.
- Have plan documents and SPDs in place for each plan you sponsor. Make timely updates to plan documents and SPDs to reflect legal and design changes. Note – insurance carrier provided Certificate of Coverage or Benefit Summaries typically do NOT fulfill the ERISA requirements of an SPD.
- Distribute annual participant notices required by law (E.g., SBC, CHIP Notice, Medicare Part D Notice, WHCRA Notice, Patient Protections Disclosure, etc.).
- Respond to participants’ benefit questions and requests for information on a timely basis.
- File Form 5500 on time and make sure it is complete and accurate (Form 5500 is required for benefits plans with 100 or more participants at the beginning of the plan year).
Just because an employer has been selected for an audit does not mean that the employer has violated an employee benefits law. Even an employer in compliance can encounter an unexpected audit. A DOL audit is not a simple process. However, being “ahead of the game” can save an employer a large amount of money, time, and stress.