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Retired? Laid Off? Confused About Health Coverage? More Questions?

The government's got answers a click away

Perhaps you're wondering if you can enroll your adult son in your health plan. Or maybe you've just been laid off and you're not sure whether you're eligible for COBRA insurance and at what cost. Or do you know how much your 401(k) plan is costing you in fees?

If questions about work, retirement or health benefits are keeping you awake at night, a government agency has created a Web page that may help you get some sleep.

See also: Calculate your 401(k) savings.

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) page provides answers to frequently asked questions — and lets you send a typed question to a human benefits adviser if you need more help. To get started, you click on "Request Assistance" at the top of the page.

Officials say the page was developed to give people another way to reach EBSA advisers in addition to the toll-free help line at 1-866-444-3272.

The agency promises advisers will respond to the written questions within three business days.

Recovering benefits

Last year, officials say, EBSA advisers helped more than 230,000 people on its telephone help line. Through informal dispute resolution, advisers aided 173,000 people in getting more than $478 million in benefits that they had been denied.

"Helping retirement and health plan participants find answers to questions about their benefits and providing assistance when they believe their benefits have been improperly denied is one of our most important responsibilities," EBSA Assistant Secretary Phyllis C. Borzi said in a statement.

EBSA's Web page is also available in Spanish, and in other languages by using online translators.

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Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.

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