Monday, April 8, 2013

What is ERISA, Anyway?



ERISA Stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act

ERISA is a very complex federal statute, so a simply synopsis of all of its features and benefits is not easily accomplished.

Interested in a comprehensive overview of ERISA and the claims and processes discussed below?  Click Here.

However, there are a number of common ERISA disputes which we summarize here.

ERISA Plan = Contract
What Does ERISA Govern?

In short order, ERISA governs company-sponsored retirement plans.  While companies are not required to have such plans, if they choose to do so they must follow the rules of ERISA.  If they do have a plan covered by ERISA, then employees have what amounts to a contractual right to enforce those policies and obtain benefits to which they are entitled thereunder. 

What Are Defined Benefits Plans?

Defined Benefits Plans ("DBPs") are retirement plans drafted by companies and approved by the IRS as having met the requirements of ERISA.  DBPs may provide for a wide variety of benefits, often including long-term disability, severance and retirement payments.

Misclassified Workers
Have ERISA Rights
Who is Entitled to Participate in a Defined Benefit Plan?

Only company employees. 

NOTE:  If you have been misclassified as an independent contractor while in fact under the law you are actually an employee, you may file an ERISA claim for benefits.

What Are Common Claims Under ERISA?

Here are a few:

Severance Common in DFPs
*  Being deprived of Long-Term Disability benefits under the DBP;

*  Being deprived of severance under the DBP; and,

* Being deprived of retirement benefits under the DBP;


How Do I File Suit Under ERISA?

An ERISA suit must be filed in Federal Court, since ERISA is a Federal law. 

Prior to filing such a suit, though, you must first exhaust all of your rights to administrative appeal under the DBP.  This process involves filing a claim for benefits with the DBP "Plan Administrator", and then appealing the initial denial by the Plan Administrator.

Typically, it takes about 6 months to exhaust your administrative rights under a DBP, after which you may file an ERISA suit.

Philadelphia Area Employment Attorney Representing Employees
Philadelphia ERISA Lawyer Since 1991
John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents employees who need an employment lawyer in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County.

Pennsylvania Employment Attorney Provides Free Telephone Consultations

If you are looking for an employment lawyer, and live in Malvern, Wayne, King of Prussia, Downingtown, Glenside, Doylestown, Radnor, Newtown Square, Exton, Philadelphia, West Chester, Skippack, Langhorne, Haverford, Nether Providence, Broomall, Drexel Hill, Reading or any of their surrounding towns, feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call.  I am always glad to spend some time with people via a free telephone consultation.

Need an Employment Labor Lawyer Near Philadelphia?

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

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Click Here to e-mail John directly.

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