Michael Bartolic and Michelle Roberts represent executives and managers who have been denied benefits under a supplemental executive retirement plan, excess benefit plan, or any other deferred compensation or retirement plan for executives and management, including short term and long term incentive compensation. Most forms of deferred compensation and retirement plans available only to executives or management lack some of the features other retirement plans offered to all other employees. For instance, ERISA’s fiduciary responsibilities, funding standards, participation standards, and vesting standards do not apply to these types of plans, making you as the participant much more vulnerable. Because the benefits are not funded in a trust, it is also more attractive to the employer to find a reason to deny paying these types of benefits.
Frequently, employers who seek to deny your claim for executive type of deferred compensation will assert the benefits would be offset by one or more claims the employer has against you, so the payment is withheld to satisfy that claim. Regardless of whether the employer’s claim has any merit, under ERISA that is not a valid reason to withhold payment from a plan.
Most of these compensation plans also include numerous vague forfeiture provisions that, when coupled with the clause granting the employer discretion to determine eligibility for benefits, can essentially subject you to the whims of the employer if your relationship should ever sour. Because ERISA does not require your employer to fund these plans, or even set anything aside to pay the benefits, in lean economic times employers often resort to denying these benefits as the low hanging fruit. Do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Call us today.
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