The History of ERISA

Authored by:

Attorney William Green from Delfino Green & Green Law


William Green
Mr. Green has made a career of championing the rights of the most vulnerable members of society against the most powerful corporations, government entities, and insurance companies. Where most attorneys take on “a case,” Mr. Green takes on clients and their cause.

Reviewed by:


Delfino Green & Green
For over 30 years, the highly skilled and experienced attorneys at Delfino Green & Green have been protecting the rights of individuals throughout California. We work hard to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions that caused injuries, insurance companies responsible for their promises to pay disability benefits, and employers accountable for their commitment to protecting their employees in the workplace.


What Does Erisa Stand For?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and “is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established retirement and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans.” Read on to learn more about the history of ERISA.

Why ERISA Was Developed

ERISA was officially launched in 1974 when it was discovered that there was a need to address public scrutiny regarding private pension plan funds mismanagement and abuse.

ERISA is the result of a long line of legislation concerning the labor and tax elements of employee benefit plans. Since 1974 when the legislation was officially put in place, there have been several amendments in order to fill the needs of the changing retirement and healthcare necessities of employees and their families.

Who Is In Charge of ERISA

ERISA administration is split between the U.S. Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service of the Department of the Treasury (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

The U.S. Department of Labor is in charge of Title I, which incorporates the rules for reporting and disclosure, vesting, participation, funding, fiduciary conduct, and civil enforcement.

The IRS is in charge of Title II, which provided amendments to the Internal Revenue Code that mirrors several of the Title I rules.

The U.S. Department of Labor and the IRS work in conjunction with Title III, which concerns jurisdictional aspects and helps to coordinate enforcement and regulatory activities.

The PBGC administers Title IV, which concerns the insurance of defined benefit pension plans.

In 1978, ERISA was reorganized in order to maintain a better structure for the plans ahead. As a result, the U.S. Department of Labor is in charge of reporting, disclosure and fiduciary requirements.

Before ERISA

Before ERISA came to be, the IRS was the prominent regulator of private pension plans. Prior to ERISA’s enactment, it was complicated and sometimes not possible for employees to receive the benefits they needed.

Between the years 1921 and 1962, there were many pieces of legislation designed to help employees gain financial transparency from employers. With financial transparency, the goal was to allow employees enough information to monitor their plans to defend against mismanagement and abuse of plan funds.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Title I of ERISA’s goal is to safeguard the principals of participants and their beneficiaries regarding employee benefit plans.

ERISA mandates that private employee benefit plan sponsors hand out enough information regarding plans to participants and beneficiaries. Additionally, those who manage plans are required to reach specific conduct standards that are brought about from the common law of trusts and are actionable to all fiduciaries.

There are also civil enforcement conditions provided to assure that plan funds are safeguarded and qualifying participants are able to collect their benefits.

What Does ERISA Cover?

  ERISA covers the following:
  • Retirement plans
    • This includes standard defined benefit pension plans as well as individual account plans, such as 401(k).
  • Welfare benefit plans
    • This includes employment-based medical and hospitalization benefits, apprenticeship plans, as well as others laid out in section 3(1) of Title I.
Employee benefit plans must meet certain standards of Title II in order to be eligible for favorable tax treatment. A plan may be disqualified or experience other penalties if ERISA’s tax qualification requirements are not met.

Contact Us Today To Get Started On Your Case

If you need help with a disability claim under ERISA, our attorneys at Delfino Green & Green can help. Our team has helped many other people receive the benefits they deserve, and we can help you, too. Don’t hesitate to contact our firm with your case right away.

Call Delfino Green & Green at 415-442-4646 today to speak with an accomplished attorney about your case.

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