Companies often offer executives a supplemental executive retirement plan, referred to as a SERP, as a way to attract and retain highly qualified executives. Most SERPs are structured as “top-hat” plans, which means the plan is unfunded and participation is limited to a select group of highly compensated executives to provide additional retirement benefits beyond those permitted under a tax-qualified pension plan. As a result, SERP assets are unprotected from creditors of the company and vulnerable if the company becomes insolvent.
SERPS are governed by ERISA is several key areas, but exempt from many of ERISA’s protections, including the fiduciary duty provisions. The Bushorn Firm is keenly aware of these differences and experienced in representing executives who believe their SERP benefits are improperly reduced or denied. Issues such as whether your benefits under the SERP are vested, your administrative and/or contractual rights and obligations, the company’s legal obligations are highly nuanced and require an ERISA attorney experienced in SERPs and executive compensation.