Allows online filing of questions and complaints regarding retirement and health plans
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration has created a new consumer assistance Web page that provides easy access to useful information, and allows users to submit questions and complaints about health and retirement plans electronically.
“Helping retirement and health plan participants find answers to questions about their benefits and providing assistance when they believe their benefits have been improperly denied is one of our most important responsibilities,” said EBSA Assistant Secretary Phyllis C. Borzi. “The new consumer assistance Web page and electronic inquiry/complaint process will provide quick answers to the most frequently asked questions and connect workers to experienced benefits advisers if assistance is needed.”
The page includes links to various tools and publications with information on benefit plans, as well as answers to questions about “hot topics.” Users also have the option to submit a question, file a complaint or report a problem with their plan. Inquiries and complaints submitted are sent directly to EBSA benefits advisers, who will respond as soon as possible but no later than three business days. Additionally, the system automatically routes the requests to the appropriate EBSA regional office based on users’ ZIP codes.
The new Web page is also available in Spanish. EBSA has a number of benefits advisers who are fluent in Spanish and a translation service is available for a variety of other languages. The page can be found by going to http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/ and then selecting “Request Assistance” or “Solicitud de Asistencia” at the top of the page.
EBSA receives thousands of calls each year on its toll-free consumer assistance line at 866-444-3272. The agency hopes this new Web page and electronic inquiry system will provide more efficient service to individuals seeking assistance. EBSA’s benefits advisers assisted more than 230,000 consumers last year and obtained more than $478 million in benefits that had been wrongly denied to 173,000 participants through informal dispute resolution. EBSA also opened 900 formal investigations of retirement and health plans based on referrals from benefits advisers of complaints that could not be resolved informally.