Insurance / Retirement / Benefits

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How do I know how my pension plan operates and what my pension rights are?

When you have an employer that offers a pension plan, whether you contribute to the pension plan from your earnings or not you should know how it operates. In fact, your employer or pension plan administrator is required to give you a booklet, called a 'Summary Plan Description,' describing your rights, so you can start by reading this book.

When you have an employer that offers a pension plan, whethe...

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Can my employer take my retirement money if I’m fired?

If you have a retirement plan with an employer, and are then fired from the company, that employer can't take away any money you have contributed to the retirement plan in the case of a 401(K). In the case of a pension plan where the employer is also contributing to your retirement fund, i.e. through a contribution-matching program or other clause, it's possible that the employer is legally allowed to take back any contributions they have made to the fund. Whether or not your employer will have the ability to do this will depend on whether you are vested in the retirement plan.

If you have a retirement plan with an employer, and are then...

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Do I have to pay for my own health insurance while I’m off on workers comp?

Whether or not your employer needs to provide you with health insurance while you are off on workers comp is a very complicated question to answer, and one you are going to need a lawyer for. While many states, including Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Rhode Island and Washington DC have laws mandating that employers either pay for health insurance for workers comp employees or compensate for lost health insurance benefits along with lost wages, ERISA or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 preempts these state laws. Thus, you will need to determine if you and your employer are covered by ERISA.

Whether or not your employer needs to provide you with healt...

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Can an employer change insurance policies without giving the employees any notice?

Absent a union contract, or an agreement that runs to the benefit of the employees (such as an employment agreement), employers are generally able to change the employer sponsored insurance policy at any time, with or without permission of employees. Employers never have to put the issue to a vote of employees, and while they are compelled to act in accordance with ERISA and other laws, there is no obligation to stay with the same insurance company for the employer sponsored insurance.

Absent a union contract, or an agreement that runs to the be...

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412(i) Pension Plan Fraud: Schemes Motivated By Big Insurance Commissions

Scams & schemes involving Internal Revenue Code Section 412(i) pension plan fraud have taken many business owners by surprise. Told by insurance companies that contributions to their employee retirement plans could be up to ten times more than a traditional plan, and that withdrawing up to 80% of funds could be done on a pre-tax basis, business owners say that they were taken' all for big insurance company commissions.

Scams & schemes involving Internal Revenue Code Section 412(...

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Big Problems For Co’s With 419 Welfare Benefit Plans Funded By Life Insurance

Companies who set up IRS Code Section 419 Welfare Benefit Plans that were funded by life insurance are finding they've got big problems. Although insurance agents told business owners that their contributions would be tax deductible, they're actually reportable transactions – which has left many companies owing taxes they simply can't pay.

Companies who set up IRS Code Section 419 Welfare Benefit Pl...

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Bank Of America / Countrywide Financial Settle ERISA Class Action Suit For $55M

Bank of America and its mortgage lender subsidiary, Countrywide Financial Corporation, have agreed to settle a class action lawsuit which alleged that California based Countrywide violated ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) by misleading employees about its financial situation and causing their pension / 401(k) funds to plunge. While they settled their case for $55 million, how can you tell if you have an ERISA case?

Bank of America and its mortgage lender subsidiary, Countryw...

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What is vesting?

The term vesting means that a secured right is in place and cannot be taken away. Vesting commonly refers to whether or not the money that has been set aside for you in a retirement plan is yours to keep if your employment is terminated.

The term vesting means that a secured right is in place and ...

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Are pension benefits taxable?

Whether your pension benefits are taxable depends on several factors. Your pension benefits can be fully or partially taxable depending on how and when you contributed to the fund. It is also important to note that employer-funded pensions are treated somewhat differently than IRA and 401(k) accounts.

Whether your pension benefits are taxable depends on several...

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Do ERISA regulations require all companies to offer a retirement plan?

Federal law does not require employers to offer retirement plans to their employees. If employers choose to offer retirement plans, they must follow strict guidelines regarding how the plans are managed, operated, and presented to employees. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is the law that governs all retirement plans in the United States.

Federal law does not require employers to offer retirement p...

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Employer Medical and Health Coverage of Stepchildren

Employer-provided health insurance does not always have to cover step-children, even though policies may generally cover biological and legally adopted children. Employer-provided health insurance only needs to cover those people that it specifically states it will cover, based upon company policy, employer plans, and state laws. When someone pays for “family coverage,” that coverage is necessarily based on a definition of “family” of legal relationships, such as those of blood, marriage, or adoption. If someone does not meet those specific definitions, they may not be covered by insurance, even if they are part of family” by modern —though non-legal —definitions.

Employer-provided health insurance does not always have to c...

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What is cliff vesting?

Cliff vesting means an employee becomes 100 percent vested (and entitled to the full amount of promised pension benefits) all at once. When an employer offers graduated vesting, the employee obtains the absolute right to his benefits over time. For instance, an employee might become 20 percent vested after one year; 50 percent vested after two years and 100 percent vested after three years. With cliff vesting, an employee who leaves the company before the designated vesting time will leave with no portion of the employer-provided retirement benefits at all.

Cliff vesting means an employee becomes 100 percent vested (...

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What can I do if my employer has not paid my insurance premiums and is now filing for bankruptcy?

If you pay health insurance premiums to your company, and the company declares bankruptcy – and so does not actually make the payments to the health insurance company – what happens may depend on the type of bankruptcy filed as well as the specifics of your health plan. In general, however, if your company declares bankruptcy, you will have your health insurance premiums paid or you will get a refund for the money withheld from you.

If you pay health insurance premiums to your company, and th...

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Is my former employer responsible for disbursing my profit sharing funds?

Unpaid profit sharing money is generally covered under wage and hour laws, which means that there are a number of resources available to you if the money is not paid in a timely manner. One option is to contact the state Department of Employment in the state where you worked.

Unpaid profit sharing money is generally covered under wage ...

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