Terminated Employee and Retiree Rights Under ERISA: Reducing Benefits, Partial Plan Termination, Severance Packages

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide ERISA counsel, plan sponsors, and administrators an in-depth analysis of the legal issues that arise from terminated employees and retirees under ERISA. The panel will discuss critical considerations regarding the rights of terminated employees and retirees under ERISA, legal matters stemming from partial or full termination of retirement and welfare plans, reducing plan benefits, and potential ERISA ramifications of severance packages, as well as offer practical techniques to ensure compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements of retirement and welfare plans for retirees and terminated employees.


Employers--specifically those within the private sector--offering retirement and health benefits have the right to reduce or terminate such benefits absent an agreement to the contrary. ERISA protects terminated employees and retirees by governing how plan sponsors administer benefit plans with substantial consequences when such rules are violated.

To reduce costs, employers may seek to reduce or terminate the benefits of retirement or welfare plans. This causes a variety of issues for eligible and vested employees or retirees, and plan sponsors must comply with strict requirements under federal and sometimes state law. Potential litigation can arise focused on whether an employer has the right to terminate or reduce benefits unilaterally or whether the rights have vested.

ERISA counsel and plan sponsors must implement strategic plans to manage retirement or welfare plan challenges with terminated employees and retirees. Counsel and advisers must have a complete understanding of the rules and implications of partial plan terminations and severance payments under ERISA. Plan provisions set forth notice and other requirements to follow when reducing or modifying benefits, and failure to adhere strictly can result in suits for breaching obligations to the plan and its participants.

Listen as our panel discusses critical considerations regarding the rights of terminated employees and retirees under ERISA and analyzes legal issues of partial or full termination of retirement and welfare plans. The panel will review the potential pitfalls of severance packages and offer practical techniques to ensure legal and regulatory compliance with retirees and terminated employees.



  1. Employee and retiree rights under ERISA
  2. Reduction of retirement benefits, partial and full plan termination
  3. Key issues for severance packages under ERISA
  4. Employer-required releases of ERISA claims


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What protections are available to terminated employees and retirees under ERISA?
  • What are the implications of an employer reducing retirement benefits?
  • What are the legal issues of partial or full termination of 401(k), pensions, and health plan benefits?
  • What are the critical plan provisions and notice requirements for reducing or terminating benefits?
  • What are the essential legal considerations for severance packages under ERISA?
  • Can employers require releases of ERISA claims?


Buckmann, Carol
Carol I. Buckmann

Cohen & Buckmann

Ms. Buckmann has advised global employers on U.S. and cross-border employee benefit matters for over 35 years....  |  Read More

Green, Daniel
Daniel J. Green

Epstein Becker & Green

Mr. Green defends clients in employment-related litigation involving claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation,...  |  Read More

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