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ERISA and your rights in Texas

As an employee in Texas, you may have started putting money away into a retirement account. How that money is protected may not have been explained to you, but it should have been. You are protected by law in many situations, so you shouldn't have to worry about losing the money you have saved. If you're confused about your rights or want to learn more about how you can seek help with your retirement fund, you may want to seek help from someone familiar with the legal process.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, protects the assets and money of those who have put their funds into retirement plans through their employers. ERISA works at the federal, not state, level, and it sets the minimum standards for pension plans.

ERISA is important to workers because it does a number of important things. It mandates retirement plans to be clear about information and how the plan works. The information may be free or come at a cost, depending on the company. ERISA also defines how long a person has to work before he or she can take part in a retirement plan. ERISA also describes when a person can seek benefits and have a right to those benefits without forfeiture.

If you run an ERISA plan, then you're held responsible for the money in that plan. For instance, if a fiduciary provides poor investment advice to you as an investor, they may be held accountable by the ERISA laws. If they aren't truthful and that leads to poor decisions and a loss of money for the asset holder, the participant may be able to sue for their benefits and for the breach of fiduciary duty.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "What Is ERISA" Sep. 25, 2014

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