ERISA – or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act – is a federal law that governs all private employer-provided employee benefit plans. This can include 401(k) plans, pension plans, profit-sharing plans, and more. If your business offers a retirement plan to your employees, then you’re likely aware that these can be very complicated. Because of this, it’s essential to get legal help to ensure your plan is being administered correctly. Employees are obviously very invested in their retirement plans and ensuring their benefits are calculated and distributed correctly. You need a legal expert on your side to ensure you are following the laws and have legal backing for any decisions you make regarding your employees’ plans.
If you think you can handle ERISA claims on your own, you might want to think again after looking at this list of ways an attorney can assist you and your business:
1. Companies must follow ERISA’s minimum eligibility, vesting, disclosure, and funding rules. It’s essential to know the ins-and-outs of these.
2. Certain fiduciary rules apply to trustees and others that manage and administer the plans. If the rules are violated, the fiduciary can be held personally responsible.
3. There are mandatory disclosures and claims procedures that the plans must follow.
4. Participants and beneficiaries can bring a civil suit against the company. If the participant is successful, the company may need to pay all legal fees and costs. An ERISA attorney can help defend you and your company against any claims and help you determine what evidence you need to provide to refute the claim.
5. If you deny a claim, your attorney can help you ensure you have the right to deny it, and also help defend your decision by finding the legal evidence to back it up. This can help you avoid litigation.
6. If an employee claims you inaccurately calculated their retirement plan or payments, you need an experienced lawyer to help you find the accusation and legal claim.
7. When you offer a severance package to an employee, a lawyer can help ensure it is fair and accurate. He or she can also help you ensure the benefits are clearly stated so there is no confusion later and the ex-employee cannot come back for additional payments or benefits.
8. Some employees might have complicated circumstances surrounding their plans. Instead of guessing how to proceed with their payments or benefits, it’s essential to hire an attorney. This can include if an employee is divorced and needs to determine what an ex-spouse has access to, if an employee needs to know what benefits are available for early retirement, and more.
9. Terminating an employee’s ERISA benefits can be tricky and will likely be met with objections from the employee. It’s important to have a legal expert on your side.
10. Make sure an attorney reviews QDROs to ensure they do not violate any terms of the plan.
Representing yourself against an employee’s claims against your company and your administration of their retirement accounts is not advisable. You can quickly find yourself in a legal battle that requires expertise to handle.
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