Rights Under ERISA Law in Washington DC

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, referred to by the acronym ERISA, protects the integrity of benefits employers provide to their employees, such as retirement accounts and health insurance.

ERISA laws, including later additions to the statutory provisions, establish standards that plan administrators must adhere to and a means for addresses grievances when claims are denied.

But ERISA law is administered by three different federal agencies, so not only is it imperative for employees to understand their rights under ERISA law in Washington DC but also how to enforce those rights when violations occur. Reach out to an experienced ERISA lawyer to learn more.

Rights Applicable to Pension Plans

ERISA does not compel employers to provide retirement plans for their employees. Employers in DC frequently choose to provide such benefits in order to attract and retain the most desirable employees. Because workers often make employment decisions in reliance on benefits offered by their employers, the act was adopted to establish minimum standards in situations where employers offer retirement plans.

Among the other requirements of ERISA, the scheme requires plans to:

  • Provide participants with certain information about the features of the plan and how it is funded. This information must be provided on a regular basis.
  • Follow specified minimum standards for participation in the plan, how an employee becomes vested, how an employee accrues benefits, how long an employee may be required to work before becoming eligible for the plan, and how the plan is funded.
  • Maintain the accountability of plan fiduciaries. Those who exercise control or authority over assets or management of the plan are considered to be fiduciaries, as are those advise the plan about investments. If fiduciaries fail to follow the applicable standards, they may be held liable for restoring losses suffered by the plan and consequently, its participants.
  • Allow for the participant to sue for breach of fiduciary duty
  • Support the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation so that benefits will be paid of a defined plan is terminated

Rights Applicable to Health Care Plans

Just as with pension plans, employees have the right to examine all plan documents relating to their plan, including insurance contracts.

In addition to the ERISA provisions known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) provides workers the opportunity to continue with their group health coverage for a limited period of time in situations where coverage would otherwise be terminated, such as when an employee leaves a job or is no longer entitled to coverage due to a reduction in hours or change in family circumstances.

Another expansion of health care rights under ERISA came with the passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This law enables those who lose health care coverage due to certain events to enroll in a group health plan. HIPAA also prevents employers and plan providers from discriminating against employees based on health conditions, genetic information or prior claims.

Also, just as with the provisions applicable to pension benefits, ERISA provides a right to sue for those denied claims for long term disability payments under ERISA governed health plans.

Get More Information About Rights Under ERISA Law in DC

Many ERISA provisions are administered by the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC and the Department of the Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service, also located in Washington.

Those seeking information about their rights under ERISA law in Washington DC are advised to consult those two agencies or review federal statutes and regulations which are available online through http://uscode.house.gov.

For additional assistance in understanding rights and aid in filing a lawsuit to enforce those rights, consult an experienced ERISA lawyer.