What is ERISA?

Allan W. Ben, PC: According to the Department of Labor, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans. A large majority of group disability insurance plans provided by employers fall under the jurisdiction of ERISA. ERISA was originally intended to ensure that pension plans were managed responsibly and that employees would actually receive the benefits they were expecting. Unfortunately, the application of ERISA to disability insurance plans has not had that effect. What has happened is that ERISA has helped to protect the insurance carrier's interest, and has reduced the legal protections available to plan participants.