Understanding ERISA in Texas

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was passed in 1974 to protect the interests of participants in and beneficiaries of employee benefit plans. Part of its purpose is to ensure that plan funds were protected and that eligible participants would receive the benefits they were entitled to, even if the company meant to provide them filed for bankruptcy.

As of 2013, the United States Department of Labor reports that about 684,000 retirement plans, 2.4 million health care plans, and 2.4 million other welfare plans were covered under ERISA. All told, ERISA laws work to protect approximately 141 million workers and beneficiaries and over $7.6 trillion in assets.

Oftentimes, employees have difficulty with the finer points of ERISA regulations, as these are complex laws governing complex subject matters. To get help understanding ERISA in Texas or with seeking justice if your ERISA rights are being violated, contact an experienced ERISA lawyer.

ERISA-Covered Plans

ERISA laws govern most private industry benefit plans, including pensions, retirement savings, and health insurance coverage. However, employees of churches, religious organizations, Indian tribal entities, and the government are likely not covered under ERISA.

It is important to note that ERISA laws do not mandate that employers offer benefit plans to their employees. Rather, it sets the legal standards for plans that are voluntarily in existence.

ERISA Participant Rights

ERISA gives plan participants many rights for their protection. If a plan is covered under ERISA, the participants have the right to:

  • Receive information about the plan, including important information about plan features and funding—although while some must be automatically provided free of charge, some may only be given at the specific request of the participant
  • Continue health care coverage for themselves, their spouse, and their dependents if they experience a loss of plan coverage as a result of a qualifying life event
  • Not be fired or discriminated against to prevent them from accessing their health or welfare benefits under ERISA
  • File a suit for access to benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty

Those covered under ERISA plans in Texas should have a solid understanding of their ERISA-guaranteed rights. Sometimes, though, employers and plan administrators attempt to administer the plans in their own favor, working under the assumption that participants and beneficiaries are not aware of their rights.

For instance, they may delay benefits that should be covered in a timely manner, or in some cases even deny them altogether. Employees or participants who believe their rights under ERISA are being violated should contact an attorney to further discuss their situation and legal options. A lawyer could be an invaluable asset in understanding ERISA in Texas.

How a Texas ERISA Attorney Could Help

ERISA plan administrators and fiduciaries need to be held accountable if they fail to adhere to ERISA regulations. One way to do this is to hire a qualified ERISA lawyer if you believe you are entitled to benefits you are not receiving, believe the plan is being illegally run in some way or need help understanding ERISA in Texas and how this set of laws applies to your specific plan.

A skilled and knowledgeable ERISA lawyer should have an in-depth understanding of how ERISA laws are interpreted and how to use those laws to uphold your rights as a plan participant. Call today to schedule an initial meeting and get the legal representation you deserve.

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