TN 1 (07-04)

RM 03201.007 Overview of ERISA Information Processing System

A. Introduction

The private pension plan information processing system established under ERISA has interrelationships between these government agencies.

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which is responsible for determining whether an employer's plan qualifies for favorable tax treatment as an employee pension plan; and is responsible for receiving annual pension plan informational returns and sharing pertinent return data with other concerned agencies.

  • Department of Labor (DOL) which is responsible for enforcing ERISA laws on the management, investment, and accounting for the assets of pension plans and for protecting the pension rights of participants in these plans.

  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)which is responsible for insuring “defined benefit” plans so that employee benefits can be paid at retirement even if the plan terminates before then (the insurance is paid by premiums paid by the employer).

NOTE:PBGC does not insure “defined contribution” plans.

  • SSA which receives certain pension plan data IRS provides for both “defined benefit” and “defined contribution” plans and then records it for later use in notifying individuals of their pension plan eligibility.

B. Process - description of SSA processing of pension plan data under ERISA


What Happens


Plan administrator files with IRS a Schedule SSA, with Form 5500, “Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan,” identifying employees who left employment covered by the plan but who have vested rights to future pension benefits.


Under ERISA, IRS provides a copy of the non-processable Schedule SSA’s to SSA's Wilkes Barre Direct Operations Center (WBDOC) in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.


The WBDOC screens, microfilms, and keys data from the Schedule SSA.


SSA data keyed at the WBDOC is received in Central Office, the name and SSN data is verified to the NUMIDENT, and the data entered on an Employee Master file.


Under EFAST, SSA receives Form 5500 and Schedules SSA data from DOL’s contractor, National Computing Services (NCS). Computer scannable IRS Forms 5500 and Schedules SSA are collected and processed by NCS. The data is then transmitted to SSA electronically.


Under EFAST any forms that NCS are unable to scan are forwarded to WBDOC for manual processing.


SSA receives quarterly files from IRS under ERISA and DOL/NCS under EFAST that identifies plan changes such as moving the administration of one plan to another plan or any other plan changes.


Individuals identified in these matches are notified of pension plan eligibility reflecting data on the Employee Master File by an ERISA notice (Form SSA-L99-C1).


Correspondence received in Central Office concerning ERISA is directed to an OCO correspondence group for handling.


Data about the termination or mergers of pension plans is provided to Central Office by PBGC for SSA's pension plan address files.


IRS provides employer identification number (EIN) redirect information. Under EFAST, IRS does not provide EIN redirect information.

NOTE: For field office instructions on handling ERISA correspondence or inquiries, see subchapter RM 03270.000.

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RM 03201.007 - Overview of ERISA Information Processing System - 09/16/2016
Batch run: 09/16/2016