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Retirement Planning > Social Security

Plan sponsors need better direction from agencies

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The Government Accountability Office determined that there are 130 reports and disclosures relating to private-sector pension plans but the agencies in charge of these disclosures don’t do a good enough job helping plan sponsors figure out which reports they need to turn in or providing up-to-date resources to help them with this task.

The GAO tackled this topic because the private sector pension system in the U.S. represents trillions of dollars in assets and is a key source of financial security for millions of Americans. The agency examined the reports and disclosures pension plans are required to make to government agencies and plan participants and the ways these reports are inefficient or ineffective.

It found the plan sponsors’ reports to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act agencies involve minimal duplication but the management of the data on one report raised concerns.

Notices that the Social Security Administration sends to retirees listing vested benefits left behind with previous employers can be misleading because management of the data is fragmented across three agencies — the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Labor and Social Security Administration — and none assumes responsibility for ensuring the data are accurate, the report stated.

The GAO has asked Congress to consider shifting responsibility and necessary resources to the U.S. Department of Labor for managing the pension benefit data that the SSA provides to retirees. It also recommends that the agencies improve their online tools on reporting requirements and facilitate better readability of disclosures. The agencies agreed with the GAO on its findings.

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