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ERISA Reporting And Disclosure Requirements

This article reviews the most significant ERISA reporting requirements. Plan sponsors or participants who want to get more in-depth or detailed information about ERISA reporting and disclosure are encouraged to visit the website for the Employee Benefits Security Administration division of the US Department of Labor. You can get more information about ERISA reporting online at

Summary Plan Description (SPD)

The "Summary Plan Description" is the heart of the reporting and disclosure requirements of ERISA. This document should explain in detail the key features of each plan governed by ERISA. The benefits, rights, and obligations of each member of the plan should be clearly described using an easy to understand language.

The following circumstances trigger a requirement for plan sponsors to provide plan participants with a copy of the Summary Plan Description:

Understanding ERISA Fiduciary Retirement Responsibilities

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  • Within 120 days of the plan be subject to the requirements of ERISA
  • New plan participants must receive a copy of the SPD within 90 days of enrollment
  • Plan beneficiaries must receive a copy of the SPD within 90 days of the first benefit payment
  • All members should accept the SPD plan revised every 5 years if changes or amendments apply
  • Every 10 years, if changes have been made to the SPD

Form 5500 Annual Return / Report of Employee Benefit Plans

Form 5500 is the filing of annual disclosure required for any ERISA-governed pension plans, welfare plans, and direct filing entities. It was developed jointly by the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Insurance Corporation in order to meet annual filing requirements under both ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.