New Language Access Laws: 2018 ERISA Translation Requirements

New Language Access Laws: 2018 ERISA Translation Requirements

2018 will see a few new laws go into effect for beneficiaries aimed at providing higher quality language access for the Limited-English Proficient. For insurance companies offering plans for employees, it’s important to understand the new ERISA Translation Requirements for Compliance.


What is ERISA?Are you ready for 2018 new ERISA Translation Requirements | Telelanguage

The Department of Labor amended ERISA  (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) at the end of 2016. The law, which sets minimum standards for pensions and health plans in private industries, is meant to protect plan enrollees.

“ERISA requires plans to provide participants with plan information including important information about plan features and funding; provides fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets; requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty.” United States Department of Labor


New ERISA Translation Requirements in 2018

The amendment by the United States Department of Labor creates new requirements for processing disability benefits claims and appeals for insurance providers, fiduciaries, and plans.  

Among the ERISA changes in section 503, language access for LEP beneficiaries will have new minimum requirements:

Benefit denial notices are required to be provided in a non-English language if a disability claimant lives in a county where at least 10% of the population is only literate in the same non-English language. This applies to all disability benefits claims submitted on or after January 1, 2018.

Notices Written in a Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Manner. The final rule requires that benefit denial notices have to be provided in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner in certain situations. The final rule essentially adopts the ACA standard for group health benefit notices. Specifically, if a disability claimant’s address is in a county where 10 percent or more of the population is literate only in the same non-English language, benefit denial notices must include a prominent statement in the relevant non-English language about the availability of language services. The plan would also be required to provide a verbal customer assistance process in the non-English language and provide written notices in the non-English language upon request.”

*See the U.S. Department of Labor Final Rule Fact Sheet 


For Example: Los Angeles County, California (from Statistical Atlas )

Languages in Los Angeles County


Learn more about foreign language diversity in the United States here.U.S. Languages with over 100,000 Speakers

Telelanguage has been providing language services for the healthcare and insurance industries since 1991 and we help our clients maintain the highest quality language access programs to serve their clients. In order to stay compliant with the new ERISA translation requirements, it’s important to have a trusted language services partner who can support translation and interpretation requirements. Telelanguage can help your organization with compliance in the following areas:  

If you haven’t begun preparing for the new ERISA translation requirements, Telelanguage offers 24/7/365 access to certified interpreters and translation of healthcare documents by subject-matter experts. Have questions about ERISA compliance? We are ready to help! Contact us for more information or a free quote today.

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