What is ERISA and how does it work for me?

ERISA is a group of laws made to protect people who have insurance through their employers. If an employee works for a Tennessee company that is not a government entity, and that business sponsors health insurance or other benefits, those benefits are likely governed by ERISA. ERISA does not tell an employer that he or she is required to provide benefits, but if the benefits are provided, they must meet the minimum standards set by ERISA.

ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. It was established in 1974 to protect workers by requiring employer-sponsored benefits to provide clear outlines of the limitations of the benefits and the process for obtaining those benefits. For example, a health care plan must clearly explain that referrals are needed before a worker can see a medical specialist.

Employers must provide a written procedure for employees to follow if they need to file a claim or appeal a denied claim. The law also calls for regular accountability to the government and oversight of fiduciary conduct. This protects employees from fiduciaries who may be tempted to mismanage the funds associated with the benefits plans. ERISA protects employees by prohibiting discriminatory practices that sometimes accompany benefit plans.

ERISA can be complicated, and when an employee is faced with a benefits issue, it may be difficult to know what to do or where to seek help. Fortunately, there are attorneys who spend a great deal of their time handling ERISA law. Those in Tennessee who have questions or concerns about their employer-supported benefits can find solid advice from such a lawyer.

Source: thebalance.com, "What Is Erisa and What Does It Cover?", Lahle Wolfe, Accessed on March 18, 2017

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