Your rights under ERISA
As a participant in the Plan, you are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) with respect to the benefits subject to ERISA. All benefits under the Stryker Corporation Welfare Benefits Plan are subject to ERISA with the exception of the day care (child and adult) flexible spending account and the health savings account (HSA). The Adoption Assistant Plan is also not subject to ERISA.
ERISA provides that all plan participants shall be entitled to:
- Examine, without charge, at the Plan administrator's office and at other specified locations, such as worksites, all documents governing the Plan, including insurance contracts and copies of all documents filed by the Plan, and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) filed by the Plan with the U.S. Department of Labor and available at the Public Disclosure Room of the Employee Benefits Security Administration
- Obtain, upon written request to the Plan administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the Plan, including insurance contracts, and copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and updated summary plan description (The administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.)
- Receive a summary of the Plan's annual financial report (The plan administrator is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of this summary annual report.)
In addition, if you are a participant in a group health plan, you have the right to:
- Continue healthcare coverage for yourself, spouse or dependents if there is a loss of coverage under the Plan as a result of a qualifying life event. Stryker is not required to offer continuation of healthcare coverage to a domestic partner or children of a domestic partner. However, Stryker has chosen to offer coverage in the same manner as other dependents. You or your dependents will have to pay for such coverage (Review this summary plan description and the documents governing the Plan for information regarding your COBRA continuation coverage rights.)
- A reduction or elimination of exclusionary periods of coverage for pre-existing conditions under your group health plan, if you have creditable coverage from another plan
In addition to creating rights for plan participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the employee benefit plans. The people who operate your plans, called "plan fiduciaries," have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of you and other plan participants and beneficiaries. No one, including your employer or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a health or welfare benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA.
If your claim for a health or welfare benefit is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you have the right to know why this was done, to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules.
Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce the above rights. For instance, if you request a copy of plan documents or the latest annual report from the Plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a federal court. In such a case, the court may require the Plan administrator to provide the materials and pay you up to $110 a day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the administrator.
If you have a claim for benefits that is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you may file suit in a state or federal court. In addition, if you disagree with the Plan's decision or lack thereof concerning the qualified status of a domestic relations order or a medical child support order, you may file suit in federal court. If it should happen that plan fiduciaries misuse the Plan's money, or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor or you may file suit in a federal court. The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees. If you are successful, the court may order the person you have sued to pay these costs and fees. If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for example, if it finds your claim is frivolous.
If you have any questions about your plan, you should contact the Plan administrator. If you have any questions about this statement or about your rights under ERISA, or if you need assistance in obtaining documents from the Plan administrator, you should contact the nearest office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in your telephone directory, or the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries, Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C.20210. You may also obtain certain publications about your rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.