The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) has various provisions, such as ensuring workers know the essentials about their plans. This policy forces managers or administrators to give their beneficiaries vital information about their benefits or their Summary Plan Description (SPD).
All employees must receive a copy within 90 days after receiving coverage of an ERISA fund, such as a 401(k).
What is in my SPD?
An SPD indicates the following details:
Fund name and type
- Eligibility requirements
- Summary of benefits and coverage (SBC)
- Terms of usage
- Statements or provisions regarding maintenance, termination and insurance coverage
- Contribution source and calculation
- Claim and dispute procedures
- Rights of beneficiaries as governed by ERISA
Administrators must also include these details in their annual reports. Plus, the law orders them to give you copies of your SBC and other application papers during renewal, special enrollments and whenever requested.
The importance of your SPD
This document describes the privileges available to you and how the fund operates. Also, managers must give you revised SPD versions or separate documents whenever they update your plan.
This information can help you decide when to file a claim and collect appropriately. Keeping copies of your SPD and its modification records can prepare you for sudden unfortunate events.
Where can I get a copy?
As enforced by ERISA, you can request a free copy from your provider anytime. You can access these files, but you may need to write an official request first.
Additionally, you can ask directly from EBSA and get a copy for a small fee. After contacting EBSA and sending a request, they will ask for your contact details, allowing them to get in touch and follow up as needed.