Employee Benefits-DOL Announces Federal Civil Penalty Amounts For 2019

In 84 Fed. Reg. 213 (Jan. 23, 2019), the Department of Labor (the “DOL”) lists the Federal civil penalty amounts for 2019. The list, normally due out by January 15 of the year, was delayed this year due to the government shutdown and apply to penalties assessed after January 23, 2019 (an effective date that is later than usual). These adjustments include:

–Under ERISA section 502(c)(2), the penalty for each failure to properly (e.g., timely) file the annual Form 5500 is increased from $2,140 to $2,194 per day;

— Under ERISA section 502(c)(4), the penalty for each failure to disclose certain documents upon request under ERISA section 101(k) and (l) (information pertaining to multiemployer plans), and for each failure to furnish notices under 101(j) (notice about funding restrictions on distributions) and 514(e)(3) (notice under automatic contribution arrangements) increased from $1,693 to $1,736 per day;

— Under ERISA section 502(c)(5), the penalty for each failure to file the annual report for a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (a “MEWA”) under ERISA section 101(g) is increased from $1,558 to $1,597 per day.

–Under section 502(m) of ERISA, for each failure of a fiduciary to make a proper distribution from a defined benefit plan under section 206(e) of ERISA is increased from $16,499 to $16,915.

–For the penalty for each failure to provide a Summary of Benefits Coverage under PHS Act section 2715(f) (as incorporated in ERISA section 715 and 29 CFR 2590.715–2715(e)) is increased from $1,128 to $1,156.

The maximum penalty for the plan administrator’s failure to provide documents upon request under ERISA section 502(c)(1) is not mentioned on this new list and remains at $110 per day.

Note: These penalty amounts are the maximum that can be assessed. The DOL may assess lower amounts, depending on the violation in question and the circumstances leading to it.