ERISA does not contain a specific time limit for the filing of a claim under your ERISA-based benefits plan. However, the plan itself will include a specific time limit to notify the insurer or claims administrator of your intention to file a claim.
- For short term disability benefits, we have seen periods as short as 7 days from the start of disability and, for long term disability benefits, we frequently see time limits of 30 days.
- After your claim has been denied, ERISA regulation gives you 180 days to file an appeal. If the appeal is denied in whole or in part, you have a right to bring an action against the insurer and pursue the claim in a court of law. There are deadlines for this, too, however.
- ERISA statute of limitations rules are somewhat complicated. As a general rule, most ERISA-covered plans simply use the applicable state jurisdiction’s statute of limitations for written contracts — for example, in Illinois, most ERISA-covered plans will give you a 10-year deadline that runs from the date of formal denial (of benefits).
- Importantly, however, alternative deadlines may be set by each plan, and as such, the deadlines can vary substantially. ERISA only requires that the deadline be reasonable, given the circumstances.
For example, a 90-day deadline for bringing an action against the insurer would likely be considered unreasonable, whereas a two-year deadline would likely be considered reasonable.
Given the variable nature of such deadlines under ERISA and the fact that your claim may be abandoned if you do not bring an action in a timely manner, it’s critical that you consult with an attorney at an experienced Chicago ERISA law firm for guidance — your attorney will ensure that your claims are brought in a timely manner.