Compliance with ERISA and related laws is extremely complex. To make matters worse, Congress amends ERISA and other benefit-related laws and the courts issue new decisions interpreting these laws nearly every year. For example, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) amends almost every aspect of ERISA making wholesale changes and reforms. Therefore, an attorney or other professional benefit advisor should be consulted before implementing any benefit plan or plan amendment.
An employer's responsibilities under ERISA vary depending on the type of plan involved. Pension plans, for example, are subject to all rules, including reporting and disclosure, financial management of benefit plan assets, administration of benefit plans, and participation, vesting, and funding requirements. Welfare plans (such as health insurance) need only worry about reporting and disclosure rules and financial management and plan administration standards.
Different parts of ERISA are administered by different Federal agencies. In general, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers the taxation of contributions and benefits. In the retirement plan area, the IRS is responsible for enforcing funding, participation, and vesting standards. The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation is in charge of pension insurance provisions. And the Department of Labor (DOL) administers reporting and disclosure and the fiduciary requirements of ERISA that regulate the management of plan assets. For specific information on 401(k), 403(b), 457, simplified employee pensions, and SIMPLE plans, see: Several other areas of Federal law also impact employee benefit plans.