Employee Benefits - ERISA

ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) is a federal law which deals with employee benefit plans, both qualified retirement plans (e.g., pension and profit sharing plans) and welfare benefit plans (e.g., group insurance and other fringe benefit plans). The goals of ERISA are to provide uniformity and protections to employees.

ERISA requires plans to provide participants with plan information including important information about plan features and funding; provides fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets; requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty.

There have been a number of amendments to ERISA, expanding the protections available to health benefit plan participants and beneficiaries. One important amendment, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), provides some workers and their families with the right to continue their health coverage for a limited time after certain events, such as the loss of a job. Another amendment to ERISA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which provides important protections for working Americans and their families who might otherwise suffer discrimination in health coverage based on factors that relate to an individual's health. Other important amendments include the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, the Mental Health Parity Act, the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act, the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

In general, ERISA does not cover group health plans established or maintained by governmental entities, churches for their employees, or plans which are maintained solely to comply with applicable workers compensation, unemployment, or disability laws. ERISA also does not cover plans maintained outside the United States primarily for the benefit of nonresident aliens or unfunded excess benefit plans.

Litigation

Eisenhower attorneys pursue cost-effective means of speedy resolution, including informal negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. If litigation proves unavoidable, we have the years of experience to see the case through to resolution. Our attorneys have proudly represented clients in matters in state and federal court and before various state and federal agencies.

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