History: The Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)


The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) was enacted, plain and simple, to protect employees. This came about long after egregious acts by employers who mismanaged pensions and retirement plans—leaving long-term, hardworking employees with nothing in some more extreme cases such as that of Studebaker leaving thousands out in the cold in the early ‘60s. Pension reform was needed, but it did take time.

Throughout the years, ERISA has been amended several times as lawmakers work to refine it further to protect individuals in the US looking forward to the benefits they have been promised. And while pensions were not offered or expected by most before 1900, today they are a benefit many individuals seek—looking toward security in their later years. ERISA originally administered to a range of different tax and labor issues for employees and their retirement plans, but over time it has been expanded to include requiring minimum standards for other benefits like health and disability insurance, scholarship programs, training programs, and more.

“ERISA requires plans to provide participants with plan information including important information about plan features and funding; provides fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets; requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty,” states the U.S. Department of Labor.

Over time, ERISA has grown through critical amendments as well, such as the:

  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act
  • Mental Health Parity Act
  • Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act

Today three different entities administer ERISA: the IRS, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Whether you are an employer or an employee, you may have numerous questions about the complexities of ERISA and how it applies to you. If your benefit plan has been disrupted or denied, you may also need skilled legal advice form a law firm experienced in both insurance law and business law.

Contact the Bolender Law Firm. If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on your behalf through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

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