What is ERISA (Employment Retirement Income Security Act)?

Whether you're a beginner or an expert, you will find this Glossary useful.

ERISA stands for a federal law that creates standards for retirement, health and welfare employee benefit plans.

ERISA (Employment Retirement Income Security Act) definition

ERISA stands for a federal law that creates standards for retirement, health and welfare employee benefit plans. Companies that choose to offer such plans have to meet the requirements under ERISA when implementing them.

ERISA provides protection of individual's assets from misuse.

Functions of ERISA

- defines how much service is required of an employee before he/she can participate.

- defines the maximum amount of time employees must wait before they can receive the payout.

- establishes the length of time a plan participant can be away from work without affecting the plan.

- regulates how benefits accumulate.

- notes that spouses of plan participants have some rights to the plan in the case of the participant’s death.

- guarantees benefits to be paid if the plan is terminated.

- establishes a claims and appeals process for benefits.

ERISA plans

ERISA covers defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, and welfare plans such as:

- 401(k) plans

- Profit Sharing Plans

- Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

- Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEPs)



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