If you are disabled and no longer able to work, you may be entitled to payments from a long-term disability plan through your employer. If you are covered by a long-term disability plan, you may be protected by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act also known as ERISA.
What is ERISA?
The Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 was enacted to provide protections for workers with retirement plans and welfare benefit plans. This includes employer-funded disability plans such as short-term and long-term disability.
According to the United States Department of Labor, “ERISA is designed to protect retirement savings from mismanagement and abuse, and clarifies that those in charge of those savings be held to a high standard- that is they must act in the best interest of plan participants.”
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ERISA Protections for Long-Term Disability
ERISA provides multiple protections for workers who are enrolled in short-term and long-term disability plans. Here are some ways that ERISA protects workers who may become disabled:
- Workers must receive written notification of their coverage and benefits.
- Workers must be provided with information on how to file a claim.
- If denied benefits, workers have a right to their documents relevant to their claim for benefits.
- ERISA sets the laws requiring an appeals process.
- Workers are given the right to sue if their appeal is denied.
Plans Not Protected By ERISA
All workers are not protected by ERISA. Employee benefits plans that are offered to local, state, and federal government workers are not covered by ERISA. Benefit plans offered by churches may also be exempt. Private disability plans are usually not plans protected by ERISA. It is important that you understand what types of benefits you have. If you are unsure, speak with your plan administrator as soon as possible.
You Need A Long-Term Disability Attorney
Fighting for your long-term disability benefits can be a difficult and lengthy process. At Berger and Green, we strongly encourage you to speak with a long-term disability attorney if you have been denied your long-term disability benefits. While ERISA provides protection for your long-term disability benefits, it is a complex area of federal law best navigated with a lawyer.