Most employer-sponsored disability plans — except for those sponsored by public employers and religious organizations — come under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which creates an exclusive federal regulatory scheme for benefits claims and subsequent challenges.

ERISA was created with the intention of protecting plan participants from the abuses of plan administrators, but over time, ERISA has actually developed into something of a headache for the plan participants it was originally meant to protect. If your plan is ERISA-governed, for example, then you must fully exhaust your administrative remedies before pursuing civil action against the plan administrator or insurer — this can extend the timeline of the dispute and keep you in a vulnerable position for longer.

Additionally, ERISA preempts bad faith actions against insurers, thus eliminating a significant recovery option for insured plan participants whose insurers have mishandled their disability claims.