The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, better known as ERISA, is meant to protect employees’ best interests when they take part in an employer-provided benefit plan. Many employees are not too familiar with their benefits packages, especially if they’ve recently changed plans or it’s been a while since they were hired.
Most people only hear about ERISA when filing any sort of disability claim or having to change their plans at all. If you’re in a place where you have to file a claim or change your plan, you might be wondering what all is covered under ERISA.
What plans does ERISA include?
ERISA covers employer-sponsored health and welfare benefit plans. These can be things like health maintenance organization, health reimbursement accounts, flexible spending accounts, life insurance and disability insurance.
ERISA also covers most employee-sponsored retirement plans, like 401(k) accounts. There’s some flexibility with the type of retirement account too as long as it’s employee sponsored. For example, ERISA covers both defined benefit and defined contribution plans that are offered through employers. This also extends to pensions and profit-sharing plans.
What sort of retirement plans are not covered by ERISA?
ERISA doesn’t cover all retirement plans. If you work for a government entity, your plan isn’t covered under ERISA. People who get a 403(b) retirement plan instead also do not get ERISA protection.
If you’ve opted for your own retirement plan over your employer-provided one, or you have switched to an IRA or SEP plans, you do not get ERISA protections. The same can be said if you have your own health insurance or savings account outside of your employer.
If you have questions about ERISA and your benefits, reach out to a lawyer to learn more. The law surrounding insurance and retirement benefits can be complicated, so it’s helpful to have professional assistance.