It’s not a joke when your company receives a notice that the DOL’s Employee Benefit Security Administration will be conducting your company’s employee benefit plan audit. Part of the audit may include a DOL documentation request. While an audit notice can be daunting, there are several things you can do to prepare your plan before and during an audit to minimize the amount of lost time spent responding to the DOL.
First, always ensure that your plan is complying with the plan document and regulatory requirements, as well as obtaining an annual audit (if required). It is important that you understand all elements of the plan document including the DOL’s regulatory requirements. The DOL’s website is a great resource for up-to-date information. Also, an experienced independent auditor with specialized benefit plan knowledge is critical to staying abreast of regulatory changes and necessary requirements. Make sure that your benefit plan documents are current for these changes and the appropriate notices have been sent to participants.
Satisfying a DOL Documentation Request
Some common items requested by the DOL include:
- trust agreements and all amendments,
- plan documents and all amendments,
- Summary Plan Description (SPD),
- documents setting forth eligibility criteria for enrolling in the plan,
- IRS Form 5500,
- IRS Determination Letter,
- asset statement or investment portfolio statement for the plan,
- payroll records,
- service provider contracts and agreements (including amendments) as well as fee schedules,
- meeting minutes for any committee with plan responsibilities, and
- a sample Certificate of Credible Coverage for the plan.
When you receive the DOL’s request letter, it is essential to keep in mind that you may be able to avoid an onsite audit by providing correct, complete, and timely information. Research the DOL’s audit request list carefully. If necessary, call the DOL, your attorney, or your independent auditors (CPAs) to ensure you are providing the correct documentation. Have your independent auditors and legal counsel review the documentation prior to submitting it to the DOL. If the DOL can determine that the quality of the information received is sufficient, then they may determine it is not necessary to come onsite for the remainder of the audit. Unless specified otherwise by the DOL, consider providing electronic copies of the information (in a secure and encrypted environment). This process allows the DOL to search the requested documentation for the needed information.
CRI’s benefit plan audit team is experienced in auditing employee benefit plans and helping clients deal with the DOL during an audit. Contact CRI for your benefit plan audit needs because DOL audits are not a joking matter.