Karen E. Ford, Esq

News and Resources


 In August 2009, the percentage of people with disabilities in the labor force was 22.2 compared with 71.2 for persons with no disability. The unemployment rate for those with disabilities was 16.9 percent, compared with 9.3 percent for persons with no disability, not seasonally adjusted.


 On Labor Day 1974, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was signed into law. Now, 35 years later it remains one of the most significant pieces of legislation ever adopted on behalf of American workers.

 The law ensures retirement and health benefits provided to American workers of private sector employers are available when needed. The law contains, among other things, provisions relating to vesting, accrual of benefits, funding of benefits, fiduciary conduct for those who manage plans, and a pension insurance system for defined benefit plans. Many of these key protections are administered by the Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

 When enacted, there were over 30 million Americans in private sector retirement plans that held more than $150 billion in retirement assets. Today, more than 150 million Americans are enrolled in almost 700,000 pension plans and over 2.5 million health benefit plans. Pension assets have reached nearly $5 trillion.

 America certainly has changed in the past 35 years and so has ERISA, although gradually. Approximately half of the population does not have access to a job-based retirement. In addition, more than 43 million people lack adequate health insurance. Both types of benefits are essential components of employee compensation. Working to ensure that all Americans have adequate retirement and health benefits is central to achieving the Secretary's vision of "Good Jobs for All Americans" and an integral part of EBSA's activities.

US Department of Labor News