Nongovernmental, private-industry employers in Texas that choose to sponsor employee benefits, such as health insurance and retirement plans, must comply with the laws established by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The laws within ERISA were meant to protect employees from plan mismanagement and discrimination.
The employer-sponsored benefits that fall under the purview of ERISA include life insurance, disability insurance, welfare benefit plans, health insurance, and retirement plans like pensions and 401(k) plans. ERISA provisions create minimum standards for fiduciaries who are financially responsible for management of plan funds and benefit distributions. Fiduciaries whose mismanagement inflicted losses on plan participants could expose those employers to legal action.
ERISA addresses most aspects of employer-sponsored benefit operation. Employers must follow reporting requirements to the federal government. Plan participants must receive comprehensive information about the nature of benefits offered, rules for receiving benefits and the limitations of benefits. Participants require access to procedural policies that explain how to file claims and appeal denials of benefits. ERISA additionally calls on plan fiduciaries to act in the best interests of plan participants and safeguard funds.
A person with questions about how to access benefits might encounter difficulty when discussing the topic with an employer or plan administrator. Benefits documentation is complex and can leave a person uncertain about the accuracy of a plan administrator’s answers, especially if access to benefits has been denied when the person had been under the expectation of qualifying for benefits. Speaking with an attorney with a background in employee benefits and ERISA might provide clarity about rights to benefits. An attorney may explain the laws and identify mistakes made by a plan administrator. Legal representation might empower a person to appeal a denied claim or hold a company accountable for mismanagement of retirement funds.