Your Rights Under ERISA

Some of Boston University’s benefit plans are subject to the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA provides participants in these plans with certain rights.

Boston University Plans Subject to ERISA

The following Boston University benefit plans are subject to the provisions of ERISA:

Provisions of ERISA

ERISA provides the participants in these plans with certain rights. The following statement is included here, so that you will be aware of your rights under the law. Under ERISA:

  • You may examine, without charge, at the plan administrator’s office, during normal business hours, all plan documents relating to the plans in which you participate. The documents that must be available for your review include insurance contracts, plan and trust documents, collective bargaining agreements, and all documents filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, for example, detailed annual reports.
  • If you wish, you may request your own copies of these plan documents by writing to the plan administrator. You may have to pay a reasonable charge to cover the costs of copying and postage.
  • You will receive summaries of the plans’ annual financial reports each year, free of charge. The plan administrator is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of these summary annual reports.
  • You may request a statement of your vested benefits under the Boston University Retirement Plan and the Supplemental Retirement & Savings Plan. This statement will be given to you free of charge and may be requested once each year.
  • You have a right to receive a copy of any material change to a plan within 210 days of the plan year in which the change is adopted.

Besides giving you certain rights as a participant, ERISA places certain duties upon the people who are responsible for the management of the above-mentioned plans. These people are called “fiduciaries” under the law, and they have the duty to act prudently and in your best interests.

Under ERISA, no one may fire you or discriminate against you to prevent you from obtaining your benefit rights.

If your claim for a benefit is denied, in whole or in part, you must receive a written explanation of the reason for the denial. You have the right to have the University review and reconsider your claim.

Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce your rights. For instance, if you request materials from the plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a federal court. In such case, the court may require the plan administrator to provide the materials and pay you up to $110 for each day’s delay until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent for reasons beyond the administrator’s control.

If it should happen that plan fiduciaries misuse plan money, or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor or file suit in a federal court.

In a lawsuit, the court normally decides who pays the court costs and legal fees. If you are successful, the other party might have to pay. But, if you lose, the court might order you to pay these costs and fees, especially if the court finds your claim to be frivolous.

If you have any questions about this statement of your rights under ERISA, contact  Human Resources or the nearest area office of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in your telephone directory, or the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries, Employee Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210.