ERISA and Pension Plans

ERISA and Pension Plans


Welcome to LawShelf’s video-course on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, better known as ERISA. This course focuses on the ERISA rules governing retirement accounts, welfare plans and other employee benefits. We will look at the employer’s responsibilities under ERISA and the nuts and bolts of ensuring the compliance of qualified plans with federal regulation.

Although focusing on a niche area, this is an introductory level course and requires no previous legal background.

Will start the course with a discussion of ERISA’s history and purpose as well as an overview of relevant terminology. We’ll also focus on the comprehensive statute’s structure and breadth of its application. Module one also looks at responsibilities of employers and plan administrators under ERISA.

Module two focuses on qualified retirement plans. We’ll distinguish between defined-benefit plans and defined contribution plans. We’ll discuss the rules of and limiting participation, the vesting of employees’ interests in their accounts and limits on contributions and withdrawals. We’ll then briefly take a look at nonqualified plans and the purposes they can serve.

In module three, will turn to ERISA provisions other than those that relate to retirement plans. We’ll focus on health and welfare plans, including a brief discussion of the COBRA health insurance option. We’ll look at “multiemployer” and “multiple employer” plans. The module also discusses the reporting and disclosure requirements of these plans, including the Form 5500 and wrap-plan documents.

Module four turns to the responsibilities of the fiduciaries who run the plans and participant rights. We will discuss the duties of loyalty, care, diversification, continuity, conservation of funds and the responsibility to be true to the plan documents. We also look at participants’ remedies for breaches of these responsibilities. We’ll also focus on the rights of the participant, such as access to plan information, fair process for benefit claims and the right to bring remedial lawsuits.

Finally, we will spend the last module looking at high topics in ERISA litigation. These include examinations and applications of the fiduciary responsibilities and exemptions for certain religious organizations. We’ll also look at class action lawsuits brought under ERISA.

We recommend this course in conjunction with our other courses on employee benefits and taxation as comprehensive training in the areas of employment law and employee benefits.

Best of luck and we welcome your feedback.

What is a video-course?

A LawShelf video-course is an in-depth series of presentations on a discreet legal topic. LawShelf video-courses focus on practical legal information and applications and are each designed to familiarize the viewer with a legal topic quickly and efficiently.

Who should take a video-course?

Our video courses are designed for professionals such as attorneys, paralegals, corporate officers and financial professionals, as well as laypeople looking to deepen their knowledge of particular areas of law. The courses allow you to acquire the specific knowledge and skills that you need without the expense and time commitment of going “back to school” for a degree. 

How do I learn?

Video courses are divided into 5 or 6 modules.  Each module contains a video lesson (usually about 15 minutes long) and a series of self-test questions that you can use to practice and make sure that you understand the material.

How do I complete a video-course?

To complete a video-course, you must pass a 10-question multiple-choice examination by scoring 70% or higher.  The questions on the exam are randomly selected from the self-test question sets for the various modules. You can retake an exam as many times as you need to, though you will not get the same questions each time since the questions are drawn from an exam bank.

How long will it take me to complete a video-course?

Between watching the modules, doing the self-test practice questions, reviewing the material and taking the final exam, we estimate that completing a video-course requires a time investment of 4-5 hours.  The courses are designed to get straight to the point. We’re cognizant that your time is valuable, and we condense the information you need to know to comprehensively cover a subject into as little time as practical.

Is there limit to how many video-courses I can take or complete?

No. A LawShelf subscription enables you to access any and all LawShelf content, including all video-courses. You can take courses as quickly or slowly as your time allows.

Do I receive any recognition for completing a video-course?

Once you complete the course by passing the final exam, you will be awarded a digital badge to display as evidence of your training and accomplishment.

How will a digital badge help me? 

Modern educational trends are moving away from traditional classroom-based course completion models and towards skills-based education. Employers today care more about skills than ever before. LawShelf digital badges conform to the Open Badge standard and are verifiable records of your skills that can easily be shared online.

How long do I retain access to the course materials?

You retain access the modules and take the final exam as long as you are a subscriber to LawShelf.

Overview of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act - Module 1 of 5

Qualified Retirement Plants - Module 2 of 5

Welfare Plans, Multiemployer Plans and Reporting Obligations - Module 3 of 5

Fiduciary Responsibilities and Participant Rights - Module 4 of 5

Hot Topics in ERISA Litigation - Module 5 of 5

Final Exam only needs to be taken by those seeking to earn the Digital Badge credentials for this course.