While public sector employees in Washington, D.C. may have some degree of security when it comes to pensions, this isn't always true for private sector workers. This is why the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was passed in the early 1970s. Initially, the purpose of ERISA was to protect pensions for private sector employees in the United States. Today, the act has been expanded to cover many other types of employee benefits, including long-term care, various medical insurance plans, and dental, prescription, and vision plans.
ERISA protection applies to all types of employees, from individuals working for large private corporations and non-profits to people performing paid duties at small businesses and two-person set-ups. Even though this act provides comprehensive safeguards, there are still times when ERISA benefits claims appeals may need to be filed. Also, if benefits aren't provided by a private employer in a timely manner, an appeal must be filed within a specific period of time to make an attempt to receive those distributions.
It should be noted that ERISA does grant participants the right to sue for benefits if they are not received as stipulated. However, if the time to file an appeal has passed, a benefits claim may be rejected. If this happens, employees sometimes experience financial hardships. Appealing a denied claim without legal representation may also limit options. It should also be noted that ERISA does not cover all types of retirement plans. For instance, plans established and maintained by government entities and churches aren't covered. Plans set up outside of the U.S. for non-resident employees are also excluded from ERISA.
An attorney can provide assistance with the enforcement of participants' rights by attempting to resolve benefits issues without pursuing legal action. If this isn't possible, a lawyer can take steps to ensure that appeals are filed within the required time period. An employee benefits attorney can also evaluate the terms of the various plans covered by ERISA guidelines to help a client develop an effective appeal strategy should an initial claim be rejected.