ERISA deadlines

I hope someone out there can help me. I am trying to find out specific deadlines required by ERISA (or any other applicable laws) for getting out the SPD to employees. We have had some major changes in our plan setup (health, FSA, and 401k), and I need to know the time frame I am working with. I tried to search the law center and this forum but I am too much of a novice to find anything. Can someone help me...both with the deadlines and where to locate the "official" requirements? Any help you can share will be very appreciated.


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  • General Rules for SPDs:

    New participants must be issued an SPD 90 days after they become a plan participant (or 90 days after their benefits begin if they are a beneficiary.)

    Initial SPDs (plans newly subject to SPD requirements): SPD must be distributed no later than 120 days after the plan becomes subject to the requirements.

    Updated SPDs: Must be distributed no later than 5 years + 210 days after the end of the plan year in which the SPD was last updated. (When there has been no changes in the SPD required information during the 5-year period you can actually delay issuing up to 10 years after the last update.)

    If your plans already have existing SPDs, and there is a change to information included in the SPD, then you can issue a Summary of Material Modifications (which summarizes the change and works in tandem with the SPD.) SMMs are due 210 days after the close of the plan year during which the material modification was adopted.

    However, group health plans that have had a material reduction in covered services must provide an SMM (Summary of Material Modifications) or an updated SPD within 60 days after the adoption of the modification.

    (SMMs are not required if you choose to issue an updated SPD instead.)

    This is just a general idea of deadlines. There are certain plans exempted from issuing SPDs and SMMs and, of course, the DOL has stringent guidelines for who the SPDs & SMMs should be distributed to and what information must be included.

    If you work with a plan document provider like a TPA or an ERISA attorney, often the preparation of the SPDs and/or SMMs is included in their services. If you draft the SPDs or SMMs yourself, I highly recommended having an ERISA attorney review them before distribution.

    The code sections which deal with SPDs and SMMs are ERISA 502(c) and DOL Reg. 2520.102 & DOL Reg. 2520.104.

    My favorite reference is the book, "Quick Reference to ERISA Compliance" by Barry M. Newman. I highly recommend it; it covers all ERISA requirements in neat sections, it's easy to read, and there are samples of almost every type of notice or correspondence required by ERISA. Due dates are easy to find and all the code sections are footnoted.

    Online, you can check out the DOL's website for help. ([url][/url]). Look under "By Topic" for "Health Plans & Benefits" and "Retirement Plans, Benefits & Savings." I am also a big fan of the message boards. They are frequented by professionals in pension and welfare plans administration. I have posted several questions there and received helpful responses.

    Good luck!
  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
  • Jen:

    Where did you purchase the Quick Reference Guide?

  • Diane,

    The book is from Panel Publishers. Their website is [url][/url].

  • Jen:

    Thanks for wealth of information!

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