man on ladder with binoculars The DOL estimates that tens of thousands of participants lose track of an estimated $850 million in 401(k), 403(b), 457 and other defined contribution assets each year. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Department of Labor is asking Congress for $5 million and 22 full-time employees in its 2024 budget to establish a dedicated program to ensure that missing retirement plan participants receive their benefits. The budget request outlines investigative efforts to be led by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) aimed at improving economic equity and allowing the agency to focus on vulnerable missing participants.

In fiscal year 2021, EBSA recovered more than $1.5 billion in lost benefits for more than 16,000 missing participants, which equals about $221,000 per investigator per day, according to the funding request. The agency’s enforcement and compliance assistance programs help retired elderly workers and their beneficiaries after their plans have lost track of them or were unable to contact them.

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