What information am I entitled to with ERISA?

For many workers in New York, there are a multitude of benefits that they are not completely certain or informed about. Workers have the right to request and receive information about plans they are involved in as part of their employee benefits package. One is ERISA - the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. For workers who are having an issue regarding ERISA or are not getting information they have requested, it is important to know their rights.

ERISA plan administrators must provide those taking part in the plan with facts they need about their benefits. This includes health and retirement, rules of the plan, financial information, and documents as to how the plan is managed. Some must be given to workers on a regular basis and done so automatically. Others should be provided upon request. Workers do not have to pay for this information or for copying fees.

The summary of the plan is one of the most important documents a worker can receive with ERISA. This is referred to as the SPD - summary plan description. It is a legal obligation that the plan administrator presents this information to participants. The SPD is free. It informs those taking part in the plan what it provides and how it is run. It tells the employee when he or she can begin participating in the plan, how benefits and services are calculated, when vesting occurs, how benefits are paid and when, and how a claim for benefits should be filed. If there are changes, the participants are required to be informed. Participants must also get an annual report for the plan. This summarizes the financial statements that these plans file with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Being deprived of information in any way is a violation of the workers' rights. Those who are concerned about ERISA or are not getting all the information they are legally entitled to should be aware that this is a violation. For any concern surrounding these matters, a legal professional experienced in helping clients with ERISA can provide advice and assistance.

Source: dol.gov, "ERISA -- Plan Information," accessed on July 26, 2017

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