Employees in the District of Columbia and around the country who receive benefits through their employer have a right to accurate and timely notifications about important issues affecting their health care and retirement plans. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, companies must provide notices of key changes and provisions linked to their benefits. The law is designed to protect employees from damaging and wasteful choices that could undermine their much-needed benefits. One area that is included in ERISA is COBRA coverage, replacement health care coverage offered after a person loses access to workplace-provided health care for certain reasons.
COBRA notices are required by law to contain specific information, including contact information for the plan administrator and an address to send payments. They should also be provided in a timely manner. The U.S. Department of Labor provides model notices for employers to use to structure their COBRA notifications. However, some employees have received COBRA notices lacking required details. Under the law, employees who fail to receive correct and timely notices about their policies can pursue up to $110 a day in compensation.
Missing or delayed COBRA notifications or election notices can have serious consequences for employees. They may miss out on the time period to sign up for a COBRA policy, or they may not know where or how to submit payments, again putting their insurance coverage at risk.
Employee benefits are a critical part of many workers' lives. People rely on these plans for retirement security, health and coverage in case of disability. Abuses or other misconduct can put people at risk. Employees who are concerned about how their benefits are being managed can consult with an attorney about pursuing an ERISA benefits claim.