ERISA/Retirement Claims

As an employee, retirement and other benefits are an indispensable part of your overall compensation package. When you need to file a benefits claim, you deserve to know that those benefits will be available to you.

A law known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, was designed to offer greater protections to workers when filing benefits claims. With many claims being denied by employers or their insurers, it is important to know what your legal rights are and when you are entitled to the benefits you've earned for your hard work.

The Law Offices of Denise Eaton May offers experienced and aggressive legal help to workers throughout the East Bay who have questions about their retirement, disability and other benefits rights. For example, we can help you if:

  • You believe you have not received adequate information about your job-related benefits and your eligibility
  • You have been unfairly denied benefits to which you are entitled
  • You have reason to believe that your retirement or other benefits are being mismanaged

Examples Of "Qualified" Retirement Plans

401(k) plans: A 401(k) plan is a type of deferred compensation plan. You may annually contribute roughly $10,000 of your earnings. Your employer may match a percentage of what you contribute. You are not taxed on contributions until you receive distributions. There can be stiff penalties for withdrawals before age of 59-1/2. A great incentive to participate is that contributions can grow and accumulate until withdrawal, all on a pre-tax basis.

Profit sharing plans: A profit sharing plan allows an employer to supplement other retirement benefits by letting employees share in profits. Contributions are at the discretion of the employer. If contributions are made, however, they must be on a non-discriminatory basis. Usually, an employer makes contributions based on a percentage of total annual pay roll.

Pension plans: The two basic qualified pension plans are:

  • Defined benefit plans, which provide retirement benefits where the employer promises retirees a pension in a specific amount, with the benefit set by a formula based on years of service X final average salary X a percentage figure. The employer must contribute to the plan on a regular basis so that sufficient funds are available to pay required benefits to all retired employees as they come due. The employer bears the risk of having sufficient funds to pay the pensions.
  • Defined contribution plans, which require employer to contribute only a specific amounts to their plans. Employees are also typically required to make contributions. Each employee has an account, and has available at retirement the amount of money that is then in this account. The employee bears the investment risk.

Our firm can assist you with quality legal advice and representation regarding the interpretation of defined benefit pension plans to help you avoid expensive lawsuits and mistakes. As General Counsel to a public pension fund, Ms. Eaton May has the experience and expertise in guiding public sector organizations through the tax and legal requirements of defined benefit plans, open meeting laws, public records act, FPPC requirements, qualified domestic relations orders, governance and strategic business planning.

Our founding attorney, Denise Eaton May, has been an attorney in California for more than three decades and throughout her career has been a champion of hardworking women and men in the Bay Area who want nothing more than to receive the benefits they have earned. If you have questions about your work-related benefits, we can give you answers.

To speak with a lawyer about your case, call 510-244-3307 or fill out our email form. We represent clients throughout the Bay Area from our Oakland-area offices.