Your Rights Under Erisa

Steps You Can Take to Enforce Your Rights

If your claim for a pension benefit is ignored or denied, in whole or in part, you have a right, within certain time schedules:

  • To know why this was done;
  • To obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge; and
  • To appeal any denial


Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce your rights. For example, if you request, in writing, a copy of the Plan documents or the latest annual report from the Plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a federal court. In such a case, the court may require the Plan Administrator to provide the materials and pay you up to $110 a day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the Plan Administrator.

If you have a claim for benefits that is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, after you have complied with the appeal process of the Plan, you may file suit in a state or Federal court. In addition, if you disagree with the Plan’s decision or lack thereof concerning the qualified status of a domestic relations order or a medical child support order, you may file suit.

If it should happen that Plan fiduciaries misuse the Plan’s money, or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or you may file suit in a Federal court. The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees. If you are successful, the court may order the person you have sued to pay these costs and fees. If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for example if it finds your claim is frivolous.