The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was enacted in 1974 with the intention of protecting the assets and rights of plan participants in employer-sponsored benefit plans.

  • It is a federal law and therefore applies to covered plans in Illinois and throughout the country at-large.
  • The enactment of ERISA established a set of minimum standards for benefit plans in the private employer-employee context.
  • New rules were imposed with regard to information on plan policies and funding, as well as the vesting of participant benefits.
  • Requirements relating to formal grievance and appeals processes were also imposed, and plan fiduciaries were held to stricter duties — those who violate such duties are potentially exposed to significant liability.

Since its enactment, ERISA protections have been expanded.