ERISA violations affect retirees’ ability to maintain a good quality of life after their work life concludes. Like many legal issues, however, there is a statute of limitations.
According to the American Bar Association, ERISA violations have a statute of limitations of six years. However, the issue becomes more complicated if the plaintiff has actual knowledge of the breach.
What defines actual knowledge?
If you have actual knowledge of the breach, the statute of limitations decreases from six to three years. Actual knowledge is not defined in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. There is a lot of legal ground to maneuver between actual knowledge and ignorance. Your employer might claim they mailed you copies of the benefits package, which you never objected to. However, the question remains if sending a hard copy is enough to stay transparent within ERISA laws.
Do intentions matter?
The American Bar Association suggests that fiduciaries and participants must remain educated and transparent. For example, good intentions do not prevent fiduciaries from violating their responsibility to the invested parties. The same goes for beneficiaries. You must educate yourself to a certain degree as the recipient of a benefits package. To prove an ERISA violation, you must demonstrate your attempts at understanding the details of your retirement package. If you can show a lack of transparency, there should be a statute of limitation of six years.
It is in your best interest to read and understand the details of your retirement package. This helps you avoid an ERISA case falling outside the statute of limitations.