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US Department of Labor’s EBSA creates new consumer assistance Web page

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.

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