Disclosures Included in Pension Benefit Statements
Disclosures Not Included in Pension Benefit Statements
(1) Participants and beneficiaries entitled to receive information under 29 C.F.R. § 2550.404a-5 voluntarily provide the employer, plan sponsor or plan administrator with an e-mail address for the purpose of receiving disclosures electronically. The e-mail address must be provided in response to a request accompanied by an Initial Notice. The provision of an e-mail address by an individual as a condition of employment or participation in the plan will not be treated as being provided voluntarily. The DOL noted that the "mere establishment or assignment of an e-mail address by an employer or plan sponsor for a participant or plan beneficiary will not be treated as a voluntary provision of an e-mail address." The DOL said that e-mail addresses from participants who were required to provide their e-mail addresses electronically in order to access a secure continuous access website housing the required disclosure is considered to be voluntary where an Initial Notice is provided. (2) The Initial Notice must be clear, conspicuous, provided contemporaneously and in the same medium as the request for the e-mail address and contain the following information: (a) a statement informing the participant that providing an e-mail address is entirely voluntary and that the required disclosures will be made electronically as a result; (b) a brief description of the information that will be furnished electronically and how it may be accessed by participants and beneficiaries; (c) a statement informing the participant or beneficiary that they have the right to request and obtain a paper copy of the information provided electronically and an explanation on how to exercise that right; (d) a statement informing the participant or beneficiary that they have the right to opt-out of the electronic disclosure and an explanation on how to exercise that right; and (e) an explanation of how to update the participant or beneficiary's e-mail address. (3) The DOL stated that that the annual notice, which must be provided to each participant or beneficiary each year, may be furnished electronically by sending it to the e-mail address on file for the participant or beneficiary if there is evidence that such participant or beneficiary interacted electronically with the plan during the preceding year. Examples of electronic interaction with the plan include an update, resubmission or confirmation from the participant or beneficiary regarding his or her e-mail address; the participant or beneficiary sending an e-mail to the plan; or the participant or beneficiary's action of logging onto a secure continuous access website housing plan information; or the receipt and opening of an e-mail that was sent by the plan by a participant or beneficiary. (4) The plan administrator must take appropriate and necessary measures to ensure that the electronic delivery system results in actual receipt of transmitted information include the use of return receipt and notice of undelivered electronic mail features and conducting periodic reviews or surveys to confirm receipt of transmitted information. The plan administrator must also take appropriate and necessary measures to ensure the confidentiality of personal information within the electronic delivery system.
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