You have worked your whole life and, as you near retirement, you are depending on the benefits you earned through your pension or employment-based plans for support. Accessing these benefits, however, is not as simple as just retiring from your job. Therefore, you should understand how to go about obtaining your retirement benefits in Texas.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an important first step in accessing your retirement benefits is reading your summary plan description (SPD). This detailed overview of your plan specifies the benefits it provides and how it works, as well as your rights and responsibilities under your plan and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). You should do this prior to filing to familiarize yourself with the procedure for filing a claim and to ensure you meet the requirements.

Provided you are eligible, the next step in obtaining your benefits is to file a claim. Your SPD or a claims procedure booklet should indicate where to file your claim and what should be included with it. If this information is not available in those documents, you should write a letter to your employer’s human resource department or another office that handles retirement benefits, or to your plan administrator to inform them that you have a claim.

After submitting your claim, it will be evaluated. Your plan must notify you within 90 days of its determination or that more information is required in order to make a determination. In these cases, your plan may be allowed an additional 90 days to make its decision.

If you are entitled to benefits, they should be disbursed in accordance with the procedure outlined in your SPD. Should your claim be denied, you are entitled to appeal the decision.

The information contained in this post is intended only for general purposes and should not be taken as legal advice.