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The Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law establishing standards for private pension plans. ERISA does not require employers to have pension plans, but enforces rules for those that do (affecting pension plans that began on or after Jan. 1, 1975). For instance, ERISA requires regular disclosure of retirement plan features and performance, sets minimum standards for vesting and funding, and allows participants to sue for breaches of fiduciary duty, among other provisions. FindLaw’s ERISA section covers the basics of this federal law and how ERISA affects the pension plans of private employees.

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