We all know that ERISA is one of those areas of administration that is pretty low on the agendas of most small business owners.  The reality is that most do not understand the ins and outs of the myriad of ERISA requirements including Summary Plan Descriptions, Summary of Benefits and Coverage, wrap documents, common control requirements, etc. Most small businesses simply don't have enough time or people to spend time on plan issues. This fact is exactly what the Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) is counting on and why there has been a significant increase in the number of ERISA Audits and fines on small businesses.  The “documents and information request” that comes with the notice of audit has 29 “requests” - many with multiple documents that need to be produced.  

What should you do?
Review your benefit plan documentation with your insurance agent and ensure that everything is up-to-speed. If your documentation is not complete, call SBAM and we can help.  A DOL audit will be time-consuming and disruptive of day-to-day business operations. But not being prepared for the audit will make the process far worse. 

Common risk areas:


  • Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs)
  • HIPAA documents
  • COBRA documents
  • Notices describing enrollment opportunities relating to dependent coverage to age 26
  • Various notices regarding grandfathered status

Next Steps:
Now is a great time to review benefit plan documentation for your company and ensure that everything is up to speed.  There is no question that a DOL audit can be time-consuming and disruptive of day-to-day business operations.  The only thing worse than the audit itself is not being prepared for the audit. 

The EBSA request allows just 10 days to get your documents together.  Knowing that, consideration should be given to the types of resources that will be necessary to collect, review and prepare requested documents and otherwise manage the audit process - before you get the audit notice.  If you have already received an audit notice from the DOL, the best advice that we have heard from HR professionals and others: don’t try to go it alone.  Hire professional help in the form of an ERISA attorney immediately. 

SBAM can help.  We offer free compliance services and paid compliance consulting for Premium members.  Contact Kellie Neirynck at (800) 362-5461 for details.