The Employee Benefits Security Administration raised more than afew questions last week when it released 2014 recovery figures farlower than those seen in 2013.

As it turns out, the difference was the result of nothing more thana change in reporting methods, though the EBSA didn't point thatout until it was asked about the discrepency.

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As BenefitsPro.com reported Friday, the EBSA said it recoveredalmost $600 million in plan reimbursements and fines during fiscal 2014year.

That figure for 2013 was $1.7 billion.

Big difference, right? Well, yes and no.

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The $600 million for 2014 represents only thosedollars that went back into people’s pockets – both plans andparticipants. It does not include items such as “prohibitedtransactions corrected” that were included in the 2013 numbers.

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The reason for the change in reporting methods was because theDepartment of Labor’s EBSA office wanted field offices and thegeneral public to focus more on actual dollars going into people’spockets.

EBSA says it is still tracking other categories of monetaryrecoveries, new reporting methods notwithstanding.

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So, the $599.7 million restored to beneficiaries, employeeplans and participants in fiscal 2014 is a more accurate reflectionof actual dollars going back to plans and participants rather thanprevious approaches to reporting. And the comparable figure for2013 would have been $495.7 million.

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The EBSA closed 3,928 civil investigations in fiscal 2014, with2,541 of those cases, or about 65 percent, leading to compensationfor plans or other corrective actions.

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That was a 9 percent decrease in the rate of infractions foundin 2013, the agency said. In other words, even with that decline,the EBSA was able to recover more in 2014.

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