The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), was passed on September 2, 1974 and went into effect January 1, 1976. The act applies to retirement and welfare plans.

ERISA is administered by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). Along with EBSA several groups have the statutory and regulatory authority to enforce the provisions of ERISA, specifically the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

ERISA guarantees that employee benefit plans are established and maintained in a reasonable and financially sound matter, by setting uniform minimum standards. Most private-sector employee benefit plans are covered by the provisions of Title I of ERISA.

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