Since its passage in 1974, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) has governed how companies that provide healthcare and/or pension plans operate. The act is meant to prevent fraud and abuse, but understanding how it applies to your particular plan can be tricky if you are not well-versed in the legal complexities behind it. Taking action against a violation can be even more difficult.
Whether you are responsible for ensuring that your company complies with ERISA regulations, or you suspect the person managing your benefit plans is not doing so appropriately, an Elyria ERISA lawyer could help. A qualified attorney could walk you through the minimum standards established by this act and help ensure that each and every one of them is met.
At its core, ERISA establishes fiduciary responsibilities for companies who voluntarily provide health insurance plans, retirement plans, and other such benefits to employees. In other words, the parties responsible for managing these plans must always act in the best interests of beneficiaries, as well as maintain transparency about—and accountability for—their management decisions.
ERISA sets out different types of requirements for pension plans compared to health benefit plans. For example, there are minimum funding requirements and various record-keeping regulations applicable to pension plans, while ERISA regulations for health benefit plans generally revolve around what and who employer-provided health insurance plans must cover. The act does not apply to benefit plans provided by government entities or houses of worship, nor does it apply to plans meant to comply with federal requirements regarding workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability compensation.
There are two recent ERISA amendments that Elyria residents should be aware of. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gave employees the right to buy into health insurance plans provided by former employers for a limited time after leaving that job. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) barred health insurance plans from discriminating against potential beneficiaries based on any preexisting disability, disease, or genetic condition. A dedicated local attorney could explain these significant amendments in detail to those affected by the changes.
Given the vast number of rules, prerequisites, and prohibitions included in ERISA today, any individual employee or employer would be hard-pressed to know them all off the top of their head. One of the most valuable services a seasoned ERISA lawyer could provide is making sure Elyria residents involved in these benefit plans comply with all appropriate regulations. A knowledgeable legal professional could help with starting or joining a new plan, merging two existing plans, or even terminating a benefit plan.
Additionally, sometimes private companies do not fulfill their obligations under ERISA to protect their employees’ best interests and avoid engaging in fraudulent or self-serving actions. Anyone who suspects their employee has violated ERISA could also benefit from the advice of a qualified legal representative in taking legal action.
From COBRA to HIPAA to the Affordable Care Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act has gone through many changes since it was first introduced. Making sense of all its rules and regulations can be challenging without support from an experienced attorney.
A practiced Elyria ERISA lawyer could help ensure that you fulfill obligations and reap the benefits established by this critical piece of federal legislation. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.