Reflection on ERISA Claims Administration and the Exhaustion Requirement

6 Drexel L. Rev. 573 (2013-2014) [Published Fall 2014]

SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-020

16 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2015

See all articles by James A. Wooten

James A. Wooten

University at Buffalo Law School

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

This essay, prepared in connection with the Drexel Law Review Symposium, ERISA at 40: What Were They Thinking?, examines ERISA’s regime for administering benefit claims and, in particular, the requirement that participants exhaust their plan’s review procedures before filing suit to recover benefits. Like other key elements of ERISA’s claims regime, the exhaustion requirement is a judicial creation that is not articulated in ERISA’s text. Interestingly, former congressional staffers who attended the Symposium said they assumed participants would be required to exhaust plan review procedures but failed to include such a requirement in the legislation. After reviewing the development of the exhaustion requirement and the debate over its merit as a matter of policy, the essay concludes with an examination of evidence from the text and legislative history of ERISA’s remedial provisions. This evidence suggests that ERISA’s drafters rejected the idea that participants should have to satisfy a prerequisite, such as the exhaustion requirement, before filing suit to enforce benefit rights.

Keywords: ERISA, exhaustion requirement, claims administration, legislative history

Suggested Citation

Wooten, James A., Reflection on ERISA Claims Administration and the Exhaustion Requirement (2013). 6 Drexel L. Rev. 573 (2013-2014) [Published Fall 2014]; SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-020. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2576432

James A. Wooten (Contact Author)

University at Buffalo Law School ( email )

713 John Lord O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
United States
716-645-2318 (Phone)

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