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What is ERISA? A Quick Introduction to Disability Insurance – and How to Get Help With Your Claim in Akron, Ohio



While none of us ever want to be injured or become disabled, it is an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes we find ourselves unable to work. Fortunately, some workers are covered by Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) insurance, which helps to cover living expenses for those who have become disabled and are unable to work. This is part of a benefits package that employers may offer to their employees, and it enables them to maintain their standard of living while they work to recover – or until they are of legal retirement age. 

ERISA is little discussed in the workplace, and many individuals may not even be aware that their employer offers this until they find themselves unable to work. However, for those who need it, this program is a true lifesaver, and it can mean the difference between struggling to cover their bills while they recuperate, and maintaining their lifestyle while they heal. Given its strict guidelines, applying and being approved for ERISA can be very difficult, which is why a qualified attorney in disability benefits is essential to accessing these vital funds. 

Today, we’ll discuss ERISA and its difference between other programs meant to assist disabled employees, as well as explain some of the guidelines that control this specialized benefit. 

ERISA empowers companies to support their disabled employees

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act is governed by the federal law of the same name, which was passed in 1974. This law mandates minimum standards for voluntary insurance and retirement plans for those in the private sector; this means that it doesn’t cover government employees. It also doesn’t mandate coverage for church employees, nor does it cover those plans that are meant to fulfill mandatory requirements for workers’ compensation or unemployment laws.

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It’s important to note that ERISA covers voluntary plans; in other words, it gives requirements for minimum coverage on benefits packages. ERISA does not mandate that employers provide insurance to their employees, nor does it make disability insurance and retirement plans a requirement. Rather, it ensures that those benefits which are provided meet certain standards.

The voluntary nature of ERISA benefits differs vastly from workers’ compensation

While ERISA and workers’ compensation are both provided by employers, and they both provide compensation for injured employees, the difference is that one is voluntary and the other is not. ERISA is part of a benefits package offered to employees; it may be paid for by payroll deductions, similar to employer-provided health insurance or 401K contribution, or it may be entirely employer funded.

On the other hand, employers are legally required to provide workers’ compensation, and they can be fined if it’s found that they’re not paying their workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is entirely funded by the employer; it is illegal to make payroll deductions to contribute to this insurance.

There is one more major difference between ERISA and workers’ compensation, which is what disabilities or injuries are covered. ERISA will pay for workers if they are disabled or injured for any reason whatsoever, regardless of where it happens. In contrast, workers’ compensation will only pay if the injury or disability is work related, and it must be proven that you were injured or disabled in the course of fulfilling your duties to your employer. For example, if you were in a car accident while driving to a party on a weekend and were unable to work, you could file an ERISA claim but not a workers’ compensation claim.

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If you were injured on the job and your employer offers ERISA insurance, you may be able to file both an ERISA claim and a workers’ compensation. However, you may find that you do not receive the full benefit from each of the sources, so your compensation may only be a little higher than what it would be if you relied on only one of these sources. 

ERISA claims are complicated, which is why Akron, Ohio, residents should always consult with a disability lawyer

As with workers’ compensation and any other form of insurance claim, insurance companies are reluctant to approve claims no matter their legitimacy. They may attempt to deny a valid claim, diminish the severity of a claimant’s injuries, or refuse to pay a reasonable sum. This is why those who are entitled to ERISA payments should always consult with an ERISA disability lawyer as soon as possible.

An attorney skilled in disability law will review your medical records and examine the particulars of your company’s ERISA benefits package, determining what exactly you are entitled to. With this done, they will negotiate with the insurance responsible for the payments in order to ensure that you are appropriately compensated according to the stipulations in the benefits package; should this fail, they’ll file a lawsuit against the insurance company.

If your employer offers ERISA insurance, but the insurance company refuses to fulfill your claim, a disability lawyer can help you receive the money to which you are entitled. Be sure to reach out to an Akron, Ohio, ERISA disability lawyer as soon as you begin the claim process: it can mean the difference between a comfortable sum and none at all. 

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