When dealing with employer-provided benefits, it is easy to get confused about the exact benefits to which you are entitled or for which you are eligible. Employers have an obligation to disclose the various types of benefits they provide and are required by law to make summary plan descriptions. They are also required to provide copies of summary plans to employees on request. The following highlights what to look for in these documents.
Summary plan descriptions give employees a clear idea of the benefits offered through their employers. They also provide guidance in determining eligibility requirements and can help you hold your employer accountable in situations where benefits are either denied, delayed, or mismanaged. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires a summary plan description for all benefits offered. These include:
ERISA requires employers to provide copies of summary plans and other important documents free of charge at the employee’s request. Request these documents if you are unsure of your coverage and to protect your rights when filing a claim.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) advises that a summary plan description, or SPD, must convey in clear language about your benefits, rights, and responsibilities. In addition to the employer’s IRS-assigned number, the employee’s name and address, and the plan administrator’s contact information, it must also include:
In the event that you file a claim for benefits, and it is denied, your first step in the appeals process should be obtaining a copy of the summary plan description.
ERISA helps to protect your rights to employer-provided benefits and in filing appeals. At the Law Offices of Michael Bartolic, we can guide you through these laws and how they apply in your particular case. To schedule a consultation, call or contact our Chicago ERISA attorneys online today.
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