If you have employee benefits through your job, you are participating in an ERISA plan. That is a benefit plan covered by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. If you want to know the rules that apply to your ERISA plan, you have to get the Plan's Summary Plan Description (abbreviated "SPD"). For example, if you want to know what you have to prove to show that you are disabled under your company's ERISA Long Term Disability Plan, you need to read the SPD. Do not rely on what they tell you on the phone or write you in a letter.
So, how do you get the SPD? Write a letter to the Plan Administrator asking for it and giving them an address where they can mail a copy back to you. That is often an insurance company that runs the plan for your employer. If you do not know who the Plan Administrator is, follow these rules:
· Send a letter asking for the SPD to your employer’s Human Resources or Employee Benefits office.
· If you are in a union plan, send it to the Union local and headquarters.
· If the plan relates to insurance, send a copy of the letter to the insurance company. If you are not sure of the insurance company’s address, look online or call “800” directory assistance and see if they have a toll free number. Call them and ask their street address for deliveries (you need that address, not a P.O. Box, to send the letter by FedEx, UPS or similar delivery).
· If it is a pension or 401k plan, send it to the employer and the investment administrator.
When you send your letters, be sure to send each copy by U.S. Postal Service certified mail or overnight delivery, FedEx, UPS, or some other way that has a tracking number, so you can prove it was received and the day it was received. You may be sending it to more than one person or company, so be sure to send each one by a verifiable method.
The ERISA law gives the plan administrator 30 days to send you a copy after they get your letter. If you can't prove when they got it, you can't count the 30 days (that is one reason why you must send it by FedEx, UPS, etc.). If you do not receive the Summary Plan Description 30 days after they receive it, I recommend that you call an ERISA benefits Attorney.
Copyright (c) 2011 by John V. Tucker and Tucker & Ludin, P.A. All rights reserved. If you need help with an ERISA claim in Florida or anywhere in the United States, call Tampa ERISA Disability Lawyer John Tucker at (866) 282-5260.