Explaining how ERISA protects employees and what to expect

When filing for long-term disability and other benefits, employees have a safeguard under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This federal law essentially protects participants in employee benefits plans offered through private employers. The law provides minimum standards in covering retirement plans, health insurance plans and welfare benefit plans such as long-term disability, life insurance and long-term care.

The law makes sure that qualifying participants receive the benefits that they deserve. Since its inception and signing into law by President Gerald R. Ford in the 1970s, the act has been amended many times due to the changing needs of workers and their families. The federal law merely sets the rules for benefits plans and does not require employers to offer them.

Understanding the process to secure long-term disability

ERISA, however, is a complicated legal area. Sometimes, this leads to employers and administrators of benefits plans to take advantage of the law’s details to deny claims. If you seek long-term disability benefits because you no longer can work due to physical or mental disabilities, here is a summary of the ERISA process:

  • Your employer must thoroughly inform you about how to properly file for a claim, clarify the coverage under its benefits plan as well as explain the appeals process involving a denied claim.
  • After you file a claim, the insurance company has 45 days to accept or deny it.
  • File an appeal right away upon the denial of a claim. Because of ERISA’s stringent guidelines, you must understand them, so consider retaining an employment attorney.
  • Consider legal action if your employer denies the appeal.

ERISA represents the foundation of your journey toward securing long-term disability benefits. While it protects participants of employee benefits plans, the act has complex details that sometimes makes the trek a not-so-easy one. But with the guidance of a solid legal ally, you can succeed. Alan C. Olson & Associates can help protect your future. 

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