What Does ERISA Apply To?
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was passed in the 1970s to help shore up the nation’s pension system after a series of high-profile implosions.
ERISA sets standards that plan administrators must follow that safeguard the pensions and make it less likely that they will go bankrupt.
ERISA has also expanded to cover a variety of employer-offered group benefits, such as health and dental insurance.
As a federal law, ERISA preempts state laws and is often a crucial source of rights for those employees who believe they have been unfairly denied benefits. A typical ERISA case involves someone who was denied a benefit under a group plan who wants to challenge that decision.
If you are unsure about whether ERISA applies to you, give us a call. One of our ERISA claims lawyers can meet with you to review your claim.
Who Does ERISA Apply To?
ERISA actually covers most employees of private companies in the United States, including:
- Small companies, even those with only 1 or 2 employees.
- Nonprofit corporations. Charities and nonprofits are covered by ERISA.
- Limited liability corporations, S corporations, C corporations, and partnerships. It doesn’t matter how you have structured your business, it is probably covered by ERISA.
There is a very good chance you are protected by ERISA so long as you work for a private business.
Are There Employers Not Covered?
Yes. If you work for the following, you probably are not protected by ERISA:
- Government employers are not subject to this legislation. If you work for the state of South Carolina or a municipality, then you are not afforded ERISA protection.
- Churches are typically not covered by ERISA.
What Benefits Does ERISA Cover?
ERISA protects employees with respect to certain employer-provided benefits. In our experience, ERISA typically applies to:
- Retirement funds, whether defined-benefit or defined-contribution
- Medical and dental insurance
- Health reimbursement accounts
- Flexible spending accounts
- Group accident and sickness plans
- Severance plans
- Prepaid legal service plans
- Housing assistance plans
- Vacation plans
- Business travel insurance plans
Which Benefits Are Not Covered by ERISA?
Not every benefit is covered. For example, these plans might not fall under ERISA:
- Some voluntary group insurance plans where the employee pays all premiums and the employer doesn’t select or endorse the plan
- Some sick pay plans
- Some short-term disability plans
- Benefit plans maintained only to comply with the law, such as workers’ compensation
- Plans maintained outside the US which benefits mostly non-resident aliens
Each case is different, and you should have an ERISA attorney carefully review whether your plan falls under ERISA. Your ability to appeal a denial of benefits depends on identifying which law comes into play, and only an experienced attorney can help.
Questions About Who Does ERISA Apply To? Contact Our Firm
It is vital that you get legal help if you have been denied a benefit or if you suspect that a plan administrator is not managing your plan properly. An ERISA claim is complicated, with confusing deadlines, so the assistance of a seasoned ERISA lawyer is essential.