• David Martin

The "Good" of ERISA: Penalties


There is a lot of unfairness for claimants and participants with ERISA. ERISA may apply to long-term disability, short-term disability, life insurance, pension and retirement benefits.


There are a lot of bad things about ERISA, but there are also good things about ERISA that if used to your advantage can drastically and positively impact your claim.


In the last two weeks, we have talked about how your ability to obtain your claim record and plan documents were two good things about ERISA. Penalties are the third good thing about ERISA.


If you don't receive the plan documents after they should have been produced within a reasonable amount of time (usually 30 days), then ERISA puts a little teeth into that situation by enforcing penalties. A federal judge can assess a penalty against the plan administrator for up to $110 per day.


For example, you request your plan document from the plan administrator, and the administrator ignores the request. Time rolls on, and you make another request that is again ignored. When you file a lawsuit, the judge will see that you made extensive efforts to try to obtain your plan documents and may award you statutory penalties. These penalties could amount to a lot of money if enough time goes by.


Those same types of penalties also apply if you don't receive your COBRA notice in a timely manner. COBRA falls under ERISA because it is a benefit provided by your employer.


It's important to recognize the advantage of penalties under ERISA in certain circumstances.


If you need assistance after your long-term disability claim has been denied, contact an experienced ERISA disability lawyer or long-term disability lawyer today at 800-284-9309.