Does ERISA Apply To Me?

The purpose of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is to protect employees who are counting on retirement benefits or pensions that their employer promised them.

ERISA sets guidelines and rules for how employee retirement funds must be managed and establishes strict guidelines for when and how employees earn a non-forfeitable interest in promised pension benefits.

It also provides a remedy for employees if their pension funds are mismanaged, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Company provides a source of funding to pay out benefits in the event that an employer fails to pay out defined benefits as promised.

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To find out how we can help you, call us at 877-936-9707 or fill out our online contact form for a free and confidential claim evaluation.

What Employers Are Covered by ERISA?

ERISA applies to private-sector companies that offer pension plans to employees. This includes businesses that:

  • Are structured as partnerships, proprietorships, LLCs, S-corporations and C-corporations. No matter how your employer has structured his business, it is covered by ERISA if it is a private entity.
  • Are nonprofit corporations. Almost all nonprofits and charitable organizations, including 501(C)(3)s, are covered by ERISA.
  • Have only one or two employees. There is no minimum number of employees that a business must have in order for ERISA to apply to the company.

ERISA is a very broad piece of legislation. If you work for any private employer or for any private company, then you are probably covered by ERISA.

When Does ERISA Not Apply?

Although ERISA provides protection to people who work for most types of employers, there are a few limited exceptions, including the following:

  • Most governmental employers and government entities are not subject to ERISA guidelines.
  • Churches are generally not subject to ERISA guidelines.
  • Benefit plans that are maintained only for purposes of complying with workers’ compensation, disability or unemployment laws are not subject to ERISA protections.
  • Unfunded excess benefit plans are not subject to ERISA guidelines.
  • Plans that are maintained outside of the United States and that are intended primarily to benefit non-resident aliens are also not generally covered by ERISA.

Does ERISA Apply to My Benefits?

While your employer may be covered by ERISA, the law applies only to certain types of benefits. In general, ERISA applies to:

  • Defined-benefit and defined-contribution retirement funds.
  • Insurance plans. ERISA applies to medical insurance, surgical or hospital benefits and HMO/group insurance plans.
  • Health reimbursement accounts. These are also referred to as “HRAs.”
  • Flexible spending accounts. These are health savings accounts that you put money into pre-tax and can use to pay covered medical expenses.
  • Dental insurance plans, prescription plans and vision plans.
  • Disability insurance plans. Group accident and sickness plans are also covered.
  • Long-term care insurance plans. Long-term care provides payments if you need to go into a nursing home or rehabilitation center.
  • Severance plans. Severance is money you are paid if you are laid off or leave the company.
  • Business travel insurance plans.
  • Unemployment benefit plans.
  • Scholarship plans.
  • Housing assistance plans.
  • Training plans.
  • Vacation plans.
  • Pre-paid legal service plans.
  • Welfare benefits plans. These include 419(e) and 419(a)(f)(6) plans.

What Benefits Are Not Covered by ERISA?

There are a few limited exceptions and types of benefits not covered by ERISA. These exceptions include sick pay plans and short-term disability plans if:

  • They are paid out to individual employees;
  • No employee contributions are made;
  • They are paid out as part of normal payroll practice; and/or
  • The funding comes from general employer assets and not from pre-funded accounts or insurance policies.

Some types of voluntary group insurance plans in which employees pay all premiums to insurers through payroll deductions may also not be covered by ERISA provided the employer does not endorse or contribute to the plan.

Questions About An ERISA Claim? Get Help Now

If you are covered by ERISA and your employer is denying you any benefits that ERISA regulates or is acting improperly in regard to your pension or other benefits, it is very important that you get legal help.

ERISA aims to provide broad protection to employees, but employees must take advantage of the protections available and stand up for their legal rights. At Joye Law Firm, our South Carolina ERISA attorneys are here to help.

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Reach us today at 877-936-9707 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our South Carolina ERISA lawyers.

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