Signed into law nearly 35 years ago, ERISA, otherwise known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, has been a source of confusion to many ever since. ERISA was originally set in place as an employee protection law, but experts claim it has the opposite effect at times.
Here are some basic facts about ERISA law and how it could be impacting you:
ERISA stands for The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA establishes minimum standards for retirement, health, and other welfare benefit plans including life insurance, disability insurance, and apprenticeship plans.
The original purpose of ERISA was to address significant problems with corporate retirement plans. One major example of the problems happened when the Studebaker Motor Company went bankrupt, leaving their pension plan, workers and employees with no money and no ability to get recourse.
Are there any recent modifications to ERISA that I need to know about?
ERISA has been amended at least 40 times since it was passed over three decades ago. However, most of the changes address pension provisions of the act. Modifications include changes in the medical coverage (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986) and HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) and coverage providing pension divisions and medical coverage for children after divorce.
ERISA is administered by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Complaints, concerns, and questions about ERISA laws can be directed to your local offices.
ERISA laws only apply to private employers (this excludes government employees) that offer employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and other benefit plans to employees. Contrary to what many people would think, ERISA does not require employers to offer pension and retirement plans; it only sets standards for benefits that employers chooses to offer their employees. Additionally, ERISA laws do not apply to privately purchased, individual insurance policies or benefits purchased outside of work provided plans.
Reporting and Accountability: ERISA standards require detailed and prompt reporting and accountability to the federal government. This helps ensure your plan is accurately and honestly administered.
Conduct: ERISA rules regulate conduct for managed care (HMOs) and the company who is financially responsible for your plan’s administration.
Safeguards: ERISA requires a written policy for how claims should be filed, as well as a written appeal process for claims that are denied under your plan. ERISA also requires that your claims and appeals be heard and dealt with in a fair and timely manner.
Financial and Best-Interest Protection: ERISA acts as a safeguard to assure that plan funds are protected and delivered in the best interested of the plan members. ERISA also prohibits discriminatory practices for distribution or acceptance of plan benefits for qualified employees.
Disclosures: Certain disclosures must be provided to plan participants (i.e. what benefits are offered, the rules for getting those benefits, the plan’s limitations, and other guidelines for obtaining benefits);
If you or a loved one are dealing with an ERISA issue, you need an experienced attorney who knows how to deal with this types of cases. ERISA law can be complicated and most insurance companies have teams of lawyers working for them. For this reason, only an attorney with knowledge of Louisiana and ERISA laws can help you get you the outcome you deserve for your case. J. Price McNamara has been practicing law in Louisiana for many years and has handled many ERISA cases. With a wealth of knowledge and respect from both the legal and surrounding community, J. Price McNamara can provide the legal representation that you need. Call our office today to schedule your free ERISA case review and get an experienced attorney working for you. The law may limit the time you have to file your case, so don’t wait! Call us now.
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