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What is an ERISA Bond?

The following is offered as general information about ERISA Bonding. More specific details about ERISA Bond requirements may be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

What is ERISA?  ERISA is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a federal law enacted in 1974 to establish minimum standards of conduct for retirement plan administrators and retirement investment advisers to protect assets of private sector employee pension plans and health benefit plans for individuals and their beneficiaries. ERISA Section 412 and related regulations (29 C.F.R. § 2550.412-1 and 29 C.F.R. Part 2580) generally require that every fiduciary of an employee benefit plan and every person who handles funds or other property of such a plan shall maintain an ERISA bond which is a fidelity bond, also known as a pension bond. More information about who is required to obtain an ERISA bond can be found at the U.S. Department of Labor website: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) protects your plan’s assets by requiring that those persons or entities who exercise discretionary control or authority over plan management or plan assets, have discretionary authority or responsibility for the administration of a plan, or provide investment advice to a plan for compensation or have any authority or responsibility to do so are subject to fiduciary responsibilities. Plan fiduciaries include, for example, plan trustees, plan administrators, and members of a plan’s investment committee.

The primary responsibility of fiduciaries is to run the plan solely in the interest of participants and beneficiaries and for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits and paying plan expenses. Fiduciaries must act prudently and must diversify the plan’s investments in order to minimize the risk of large losses. In addition, they must follow the terms of plan documents to the extent that the plan terms are consistent with ERISA. They also must avoid conflicts of interest. In other words, they may not engage in transactions on behalf of the plan that benefit parties related to the plan, such as other fiduciaries, services providers, or the plan sponsor.

Fiduciaries who do not follow these principles of conduct may be personally liable to restore any losses to the plan, or to restore any profits made through improper use of plan assets. Courts may take whatever action is appropriate against fiduciaries who breach their duties under ERISA including their removal.

ERISA requires plans to provide participants with plan information, including important information about plan features and funding; provides fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets; requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty.

If you need to obtain an ERISA bond, or need information about ERISA bonding, please feel free to give us a call at (618) 242-7800 or toll free (800) 995-0997. You may also contact the regional office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) for assistance by calling toll-free 1.866.444.EBSA (3272). A listing of EBSA regional offices can be found at www.dol.gov/ebsa.