Many employees worry whether they will be able to save for their retirement and how easy the funds will be to access when the time comes. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, also called ERISA, was enacted in 1974 and provides insurance or pension companies as well as private employers guidelines for how they must administer benefit plans for their employees.
ERISA laws do not, however, cover health plans that are provided by government entities or plans that have been established by churches for employees. They also do not cover plans that are related to state laws, such as worker’s compensation and unemployment. Although employers are not required by ERISA to offer these plans, they do have to follow the minimum standards that ERISA sets if they opt to offer benefits.
Before ERISA laws were put into place, employee benefit plans were regulated by the Welfare and Pension Plans Disclosure Act (WPPDA). This required employers to provide annual financial reports and plan descriptions to plan participants and the government. Although this was meant to provide employees with a way to keep an eye out for mismanagement of their funds, the WPPDA was still very limited.
Once ERISA was enacted, the scope of information that employees receive has been widened and employers are now required to manage funds exclusively for what is in the best interests of their employees. They must also report additional information to the government.
Because of ERISA, employees now have access to more information on their pension plans and other benefits. Employees must be notified what the process is for filing a claim for benefits, as well as any changes that will be made to their benefits or plan. ERISA also ensures that participants are aware of the standards that an employer must meet for their benefits to vest. This information must be provided to employees in writing automatically, or upon request.
ERISA also protects participants from the plan fiduciary committing acts of wrongdoing. A fiduciary is any party that has authority or control over the assets and management of the plan. These fiduciaries are required under ERISA to act solely for the best interest and benefits of the participants in the plan. If improper planning does take place and results in a large loss for an employee, the fiduciary may be liable for that loss. An experienced ERISA claims attorney can advise you of your legal rights. This provides plan participants with security against abuse that may be carried out by those managing their funds.
If you feel like your plan benefits have been mismanaged or abused, you may be entitled to file an ERISA claim. ERISA laws are very complex and it is rarely advisable to attempt to handle such claims on your own. The attorneys at Law Offices of J. Price McNamara have years of experience helping their clients navigate the complex ERISA claims process and we can help you, too. Contact our office to schedule a consultation today.
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