Employee Retirement Income Security Act
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires plans to include in their summary plan descriptions a notice outlining participants' and beneficiaries' rights. Leidos has developed its own notice, based on the model language provided by the Department of Labor, which includes the appropriate information but is written in more understandable language.
ERISA Rights Statement
Participants in the plans are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA provides that all plan participants shall be entitled to:
- Examine, without charge, at the plan administrator's office and at other specified locations, such as worksites, all documents governing the plan, including insurance contracts and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) filed by the plan with the U.S. Department of Labor and available at the Public Disclosure Room of the Employee Benefit Security Administration.
- Obtain, upon written request to the plan administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the plan, including insurance contracts and copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and updated summary plan description(s). The administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.
- Receive a summary of the plan's annual financial report. The plan administrator is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of this summary annual report.
- Continuation of health care coverage for the participant, participant's spouse and/or participant's dependents if there is a loss of coverage under the plan as a result of a qualifying event. Participants and their dependents may have to pay for such coverage. Review this summary plan description and the documents governing the plan on the rules governing COBRA continuation coverage rights.
Prudent Actions by Plan Fiduciaries
In addition to creating rights for plan participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the employee benefit plan. The people who operate the plan, called "fiduciaries" of the plan, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of all plan participants and beneficiaries. No one, including the participant's employer, or any other person, may fire the participant or otherwise discriminate against him or her in any way to prevent his or her obtaining a welfare benefit or exercising rights under ERISA.
Enforcement of Participants' Rights
If a claim for a welfare benefit is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, the participant has a right to know why this was done, to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge, and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules.
Under ERISA, there are steps the participant can take to enforce the above rights. For instance, if the participant requests a copy of plan documents or the latest annual report from the plan and does not receive it within 30 days, the participant may file suit in a federal court. In such a case, the court may require the plan administrator to provide the materials and pay the participant up to $110 a day until the participant receives the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the administrator's control.
If the participant has a claim for benefits which is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, the participant may file suit in a state or federal court. In addition, if the participant disagrees with the plan's decision or lack thereof concerning the qualified status of a domestic relations order or a medical child support order, the participant may file suit in federal court.
If it should happen that plan fiduciaries misuse the plan's money, or if the participant is discriminated against for asserting his or her rights, the participant may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor or file suit in a federal court. The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees. If the participant is successful, the court may order the person the participant has sued to pay these costs and fees. If the participant loses, the court may order the participant to pay these costs and fees — for example, if it finds that the participant's claim is frivolous.
No one, including a participant's employer, union or any other person, may fire or otherwise discriminate against a participant in any way to prevent him or her from obtaining a benefit or exercising his or her rights under ERISA.
Assistance with Questions
If the participant has questions about the plan, the participant should contact the plan administrator. If the participant has any questions about this statement or about rights under ERISA, or if the participant needs assistance in obtaining documents from the plan administrator, the participant should contact the nearest office of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in the telephone directory or the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries, Employee Benefit Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. The participant may also obtain certain publications about rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Employee Benefit Security Administration.