ERISA Law: A Comprehensive Overview

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established retirement and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans. ERISA was enacted to protect the interests of employee benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries.

ERISA covers a wide range of employee benefit plans, including:

  • Pension plans
  • 401(k) plans
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs)
  • Health insurance plans
  • Dental insurance plans
  • Vision insurance plans
  • Long-term care insurance plans

ERISA sets minimum standards for these plans in terms of participation, vesting, funding, and benefits. ERISA also requires plan sponsors to provide participants with information about their plans and to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans.

ERISA Fiduciary Duties

ERISA also imposes fiduciary duties on those who manage and control plan assets. Fiduciaries have a duty to act in the best interests of plan participants and beneficiaries, to exercise prudence in managing plan assets, and to avoid conflicts of interest.

ERISA Enforcement

ERISA is enforced the US Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). EBSA can investigate complaints from plan participants and beneficiaries, and it can take enforcement action against plan sponsors and fiduciaries who violate ERISA.

ERISA Rights

ERISA participants and beneficiaries have a number of rights under the law, including the right to:

  • Access information about their plan
  • Participate in their plan
  • Vest in their plan benefits
  • Receive benefits from their plan
  • File grievances and appeals if they believe their rights have been violated

How to Get Help with ERISA Law

If you have questions about ERISA or if you believe your rights under ERISA have been violated, you should consult with an experienced ERISA attorney. ERISA attorneys can help you to understand your rights and options, and they can represent you in dealing with your plan sponsor or EBSA.

Here are some examples of common ERISA issues:

  • Denied claims
  • Eligibility disputes
  • Vesting disputes
  • Benefit calculation disputes
  • Fiduciary breach claims

If you are facing any of these issues, it is important to consult with an ERISA attorney to discuss your options.