What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan (2006) by U.S. Department of Labor Contributors

By U.S. Department of Labor Contributors

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Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is the agency responsible for enforcing the provisions of ERISA that govern the conduct of plan fiduciaries, the investment and protection of plan assets, the reporting and disclosure of plan information, and participants’ benefit rights and responsibilities. 29 However, not all retirement plans are covered by ERISA. For example, Federal, state, or local government plans and some church plans are not covered. The Department of Labor enforces the law by informally resolving benefit disputes, conducting investigations, and seeking correction of violations of the law, including bringing lawsuits when necessary.

The value of the account will change based on the value and performance of the investments. Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) – A Federal law that sets standards of protection for individuals in most voluntarily established, private-sector retirement plans. ERISA requires plans to provide participants with plan information, including important facts about plan features and funding; sets minimum standards for participation, vesting, benefit accrual, and funding; provides fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets; requires plans to establish a claims and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans; gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty; and, if a defined benefit plan is terminated, guarantees payment of certain benefits through a federally chartered corporation, known as the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

START WITH YOUR EMPLOYER AND/OR PLAN ADMINISTRATOR If you find an error or have a question, in most cases, you can start by looking for information in your Summary Plan Description. In addition, you can contact your employer and/or the plan administrator and ask them to explain what has happened and/or make a correction. IS IT POSSIBLE TO SUE UNDER ERISA? Yes, you have a right to sue your plan and its fiduciaries to enforce or clarify your rights under ERISA and your plan in the following situations: To appeal a denied claim for benefits after exhausting your plan’s claims review process; To recover benefits due you; To clarify your right to future benefits; To obtain plan documents that you previously requested in writing but did not receive; To address a breach of a plan fiduciary’s duties; or To stop the plan from continuing any act or practice that violates the terms of the plan or ERISA.

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