Five Common ERISA Violations
Having an employee benefit plan at work is a good thing, especially when so many contractors and gig economy workers don’t have one. But a lot can go wrong for you as an employee if your employer fails to live up to its obligations.
That is why, at Warren & Siurek, L.L.P., in Houston, we help employees protect their benefit plan rights. This includes making full use of a complicated federal law called the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
1. Many insurance companies routinely deny claims to collect on disability coverage under employer-provided policies.
There are ways to challenge such denials. But because the procedures required by ERISA are complex, it is important to have an attorney familiar with them on your side.
For example, in an ERISA appeal, the evidence is often restricted to the documents in the medical record. At our law firm, both Mark Siurek and Patricia Haylon trained as nurses before becoming lawyers. This gives us the grasp of medical detail needed to build your case most effectively in challenging a denial.
2. Sometimes employers try to convert a pension plan into a lump sum or reduce promised benefits.
Employers have no obligation to set up retirement plans. But once a plan is in place, ERISA provides important limitations on what employers must do to fund the plan and what changes can be made in it.
3. Employers often cut off health insurance coverage too quickly to laid-off employees.
ERISA creates certain obligations on the part of employers to allow former employees to continue health insurance in exchange for paying applicable premiums.
Employers do not always honor this obligation, despite amendments to ERISA made by a law known an COBRA.
4. Insurance plans must comply with several sets of laws on giving parity to mental health conditions. Many plans fail to do that.
Laws such as the Mental Health Parity Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act create certain rights for people with mental health conditions. This includes many developmental disabilities and conditions such as depression and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
If an ERISA plan violates these laws, the plan is also in violation of its fiduciary duties under ERISA.
5. Many employers violate the rights of former employees.
It isn’t only current employees whose rights ERISA is there to protect. ERISA also applies to former employees.
To learn more, call our law firm or complete the brief online form to set up a meeting.