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If you, like many Americans, are grappling with ERISA and how to navigate the system, you are not alone. Let’s begin with the beginning.
ERISA is more formally known as the Employee Income Retirement Security Act. It is a set of minimum standards for employers who offer employee benefit plans (including retirement plans, health benefits, life insurance, and disability insurance). This includes:
Transparency: ERISA stipulates that employees must be given information about their pension plans and other benefits. For each benefit plan offered, employees must be notified on how to file claims for their benefits. They must also be notified of deadlines and standards required to make a claim for their benefits, as well as any important changes. This information must be provided in writing, either automatically or upon request.
Protection from Wrongdoing: ERISA also protects employees from any wrongdoing or mismanagement by “plan fiduciaries”, which basically means anyone who has authority over benefits plan management (like plan administrators or trustees).