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Filing a Federal Lawsuit Under ERISA

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When Can a Federal Lawsuit Be Filed Under ERISA?

Through the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Department of Labor ensures that pension plans are adequately managed. To enforce the provisions of ERISA, you can file an enforcement lawsuit in a federal court.

For example, a federal lawsuit under ERISA may be filed:

  • When your pension benefits have been unjustly denied
  • To challenge a pension plan’s decision that will affect your future pension benefits
  • To induce the pension plan to comply with ERISA rules (such as providing appropriate disclosures)
  • To address inadequate management of the your pension plan

Understanding the Process: Claiming Pension Benefits Under ERISA

The Employment Retirement Income Security Act doesn’t prescribe a uniform procedure for claiming pension benefits; instead, each pension plan has its own. However, certain ERISA rules do apply to the process of claiming your pension benefits. For example:

  • You must receive the decision for your filed claim in writing and within a reasonable time.
  • The decision pursuant to your claim must explain the reason for your denial of any pension benefits.
  • Your pension plan materials must explain the appeals process.
  • For your appeal, the pension plan must permit you to examine its files and records.
  • Within 60 days of filing the appeal, the pension plan administrators must produce a written decision.

If your claim is denied on appeal, you still may pursue your claim in state or federal court.

When to Seek an Attorney’s Help

If you have difficulties claiming your pension benefits or if you have been denied benefits, you should seek the help of a qualified attorney. ERISA laws are complex and you will need an attorney with the appropriate knowledge and experience.

Photo of page author Pavel Leshchinskiy

, LegalMatch Legal Content Developer

Last Modified: 08-24-2016 10:24 PM PDT

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