The Department of Labor is increasing its audits of defined benefit pension plans with so-called "missing" participants, thereby pressuring plan administrators to find former employees—or their beneficiaries—so that the benefits they're owed can be distributed to them.

The Society for Human Resource Management reports that, according to Norma Sharara, a principal in Mercer's employment practices risk management group in Washington, this is something "completely new" that started in the DOL's Philadelphia office as a pilot project last year and is now going national.

Sharara says in the report that the Philadelphia DOL office began reviewing the Forms 5500 of defined-benefit plans to identify employers with a high number of terminated vested participants who were not receiving payments and who had not received a lump-sum payout.

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