When you work for a privately-owned business that offers a retirement plan, the terms of that plan are covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This federal law administered by the U.S. Department of Labor sets out the minimum standards that voluntarily offered plans must meet. The name of the act is a bit of a misnomer as it covers not only retirement, but health, disability, and life insurance benefits as well.
As with most programs that have government oversight, there can be the usual bureaucratic red tape to deal with when it comes to ERISA. Here are the basics you need to know.
What Does ERISA Require From Employers?
ERISA disability expects group plan administrators to provide plan participants with the features of their benefits package. It also requires that participants know how the plan is funded. ERISA also sets the fiduciary guidelines that plan administrators must follow to ensure the proper use of the assets to maintain plan solvency. Additionally, ERISA requires a grievance and appeal process is set in place as well as provisions that allow for a participant to seek legal recourse if need be. This is important in case your plan administrator rejects your disability claim; you can legally sue if a settlement cannot be reached.
What Changes Have Taken Place Since Its Inception?
Over the years, a number of amendments have added extra protection to plan participants and their beneficiaries. These include:
Are There Exemptions From ERISA?
If you purchase your own private disability insurance, ERISA does not apply. ERISA also does not govern government entities, including state universities, or churches and any hospitals or universities run by churches.
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