TN 2 (10-19)

RM 03201.007 Overview of ERISA Government Agency Interrelationships and Processing

A. Introduction

The private pension plan information processing system established under ERISA has interrelationships between the following 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).


    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 stores 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 Form 8955-SSA, “Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants With Deferred Vested Benefits",” identifying employees who left employment covered by the plan but who are entitled to a deferred vested benefit under the plan.


Under ERISA, IRS transmits Form 8955-SSA data filed electronically to SSA Systems and also ships paper Forms 8955-SSA filed to SSA's Wilkes Barre Direct Operations Center (WBDOC) in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.


The WBDOC screens, images, and keys data from the Forms 8955-SSA as necessary.


SSA Systems receives Form 8955-SSA data processed at the WBDOC where they verify the name and SSN data with the NUMIDENT, and add the data entered on the Employee Master file.


SSA Systems receives Form 8955-SSA data from the IRS Files Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) System whereas Systems processes the paper forms on a separate track as noted in Stage 3 above.


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


On a monthly basis , SSA identifies claimants applying for Social Security benefits who have ERISA data on the Employee Master File and notifies them of potential pension plan eligibility by mailing them 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.


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

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RM 03201.007 - Overview of ERISA Government Agency Interrelationships and Processing - 10/01/2019
Batch run: 10/01/2019