Retirement Savings Plan

Part 10: What To Do If You Have A Problem

social security

Retirement Planning and retirement plans

Sometimes, retirement plan administrators, managers, and others involved with the plan make mistakes. Some examples include:

Your 401k or individual account statement is consistently late or comes at irregular intervals

Your account balance does not appear to be accurate

Your employer fails to transmit your contribution to the plan on a timely basis

Your plan administrator does not give or send you a copy of the Summary Plan Description

Your benefit is calculated incorrectly.

It is important for you to know that you can follow up on any possible mistakes without fear of retribution. Employers are prohibited by law from firing or disciplining employees to avoid paying a benefit, as a reprisal for exercising any of the rights provided under a plan or Federal retirement law (ERISA), or for giving information or testimony in any inquiry or proceeding related to ERISA.

Start With Your Employer And/Or Plan Administrator
If you find an error or have a question, in most cases, you can start by looking for information in your Summary Plan Description. In addition, you can contact your employer and/or the plan administrator and ask them to explain what has happened and/or make a correction.

Is it possible to sue under ERISA?
Yes, you have a right to sue your plan and its fiduciaries to enforce or clarify your rights under ERISA and your plan in the following situations:

To appeal a denied claim for benefits after exhausting your plan's claims review process

To recover benefits due you

To clarify your right to future benefits

To obtain plan documents that you previously requested in writing but did not receive\

To address a breach of a plan fiduciary's duties

To stop the plan from continuing any act or practice that violates the terms of the plan or ERISA.

What is the role of the Labor Department?
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is the agency responsible for enforcing the provisions of ERISA that govern the conduct of plan fiduciaries, the investment and protection of plan assets, the reporting and disclosure of plan information, and participants’ benefit rights and responsibilities.

However, not all retirement plans are covered by ERISA. For example, Federal, state, or local government plans and some church plans are not covered.

The Department of Labor enforces the law by informally resolving benefit disputes, conducting investigations, and seeking correction of violations of the law, including bringing lawsuits when necessary.

The Department has benefits advisors committed to providing individual assistance to participants and beneficiaries. Participants will receive information on their rights and responsibilities under the law and help in obtaining benefits to which they are entitled.

Contact a benefits advisor by calling toll free at 1.866.444.EBSA (3272) or electronically at

Action Items

Contact the Department of Labor’s EBSA for questions about ERISA, help obtaining a benefit or if you believe your claim to benefits has been unjustly denied or that your benefit was calculated incorrectly.

If you have information that plan assets are being mismanaged or misused; If you think the plan fiduciaries are acting improperly; or If you think your employer has been late in depositing your contributions (see Part 7).