Obtaining ERISA Plan Documents

It’s hard to know your rights under a disability insurance contract without a copy of the contract. Fortunately, if you have a disability insurance contract through your employment, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA“) provides you with access to what is called a Summary Plan Description of the contract, which answers basic questions an ERISA plan participant may have about disability insurance benefits. Plan administrators are required to make ERISA Summary Plan Descriptions available to ERISA plan participants upon request. As a general rule, the plan administrator will be your employer’s national human resource department for larger employers, or simply the human resource department for smaller employers. Your HR department should be able to identify the ERISA plan administrator in any case. Be sure to send your request for ERISA plan documents by certified mail so you have confirmation of receipt (a statutory penalty can be applied for failure to timely provide ERISA plan documents but will require litigation and any reviewing court is likely to require confirmation of receipt).