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Summary Plan Descriptions

(Employee Benefit Booklets)

Are your company's Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) up to date? Do your Summary Plan Descriptions comply with the most current rules as updated by recent Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requirements and other federal legislation?

Summary Plan Descriptions must describe an employee's rights and obligations under his or her benefit plan in a fair and unbiased manner. Do your SPD's? Are your Summary Plan Descriptions written clearly, concisely, and accurately?

Labor Department regulations dictate when the Summary Plan Description must be distributed, exactly what information must be contained in the Summary Plan Description, how the text should be designed, and the penalties for not complying with the regulations.

**See our Guide to Preparing the Summary Plan Description for what must be disclosed in your employee benefit booklets.**

Don't just comply with these ERISA requirements for disclosure, turn disclosure into communication!!

©R.H. Wohl & Associates/In Plain English® is a management consulting firm specializing in communicating and improving the flow of factual information. For more than 25 years, R.H. Wohl & Associates/In Plain English® has assisted clients of every size and type, publish clear, user-oriented information, and improve their business procedures, employee communications, and customer responses.

 

 

The

In Plain English®

Guide

to Preparing

the

Summary Plan Description

Ronald H. Wohl CMC

©In Plain English® R.H. Wohl & Associates, Inc.


Table of Contents

About the Author 1
Introduction 2
Summary Plan Descriptions (Employee Benefits Booklet) 3
Preparing the Summary Plan Description 4
Pension Plans—Required content and citations to Federal regulations
-Plan Administration
-Plan Eligibility
-Summary of Benefits, Rights, and Obligations
-Claims and Appeals Process
-Statement of ERISA Rights
5
Welfare Plans—Required content and citations to Federal regulations
-Plan Administration
-Plan Eligibility
-Summary of Benefits, Rights, and Obligations
-Claims and Appeals Process
-Statement of ERISA Rights
6
Planning Questions to ask before preparing the SPD 7
The SPD Planning Schedule 8

**No part of this document may be reproduced in whole or in part, electronically or on paper or by any other way or means without the written permission of the Copyright Holder. **


About the Author…

Ronald H. Wohl CMC

Mr. Wohl is a Certified Management Consultant and the founder, senior consultant, president and CEO of ©RH Wohl & Associates, Inc./In Plain English®. He has over 34 years of experience in business and management communications. Mr. Wohl is in charge of marketing, sales, client development and interaction, human factors design and project management for the firm.

Mr. Wohl specializes in improving the flow, character, quality, and consistency of factual information within an organization and between the organization and its managers, employees, customers, and stakeholders. He evaluates and prepares management communications for business, government and human resources. Mr. Wohl researches and advises clients on human resource policy and procedures and provides guidance in many areas of personnel management. Mr. Wohl also helps clients develop corporate administrative and human resource manuals and employee handbooks in both print and electronic form.

Mr. Wohl advises clients on the administration and communication of employee benefits. He specializes in the writing of summary plan descriptions (employee benefit books), flexible benefit communications, and plan administration manuals. He also helps clients write corporate and credit policy, laws and regulations, computer and software manuals, product instructions, and helps them design computer screens for more effective user access to information. He conducts focus groups, group facilitations, employee attitude surveys, and marketing research studies. In addition, he consults frequently on the needs of micro-businesses.

Mr. Wohl was a national employee communications consultant for the Wyatt Company (now Watson Wyatt Worldwide). As Supervisor of Program Analysis and Information for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Washington, D.C., he developed and maintained the employee benefit, administrative, and marketing communications for 40,000 employees at 1,000 member cooperatives. He also was the risk, employee benefits, and payroll manager for Montgomery College, one of the largest community colleges in the United States.

He is the co-author of the "Employee Benefits Communication Edge", a newsletter published by Commerce Clearing House and "The Employee Benefits Communication Toolkit" published semi-annually by Commerce Clearing House.  He is also the author of two additional books and several articles on employee communication, cost containment communications, and managing human resources. He was on the editorial board of a major managed care resource magazine. He has spoken widely on human resources, employee benefits communication, communication of factual information, and regulation and requirements of micro-businesses (home-based business, telecommuting and home offices).

He is the author of the management practice of "Re-Humanizing the Business"—focusing on increasing loyalty, productivity, and profitability through increasing employee satisfaction and participation in the business.

He is a graduate of George Washington University (applied psychological anthropology and accounting), Mr. Wohl attended the George Washington University Law School, American University School of Business (MBA program), the Kemper Insurance Institute for Risk Management, and Florida State University. He is listed in Who's Who in the United States and other national and international publications. Mr. Wohl is a member of the International Association of Business Communication and the Institution of Management. He subscribes to the Code of Ethics of the Institution of Management Consultants. 

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Introduction

Summary plan descriptions are the most important communications employees receive from their employer describing their employee benefit plans. Summary Plan Descriptions have a big job. They must be accurate and comprehensive and unambiguous. Summary Plan Descriptions must describe the benefits in a neutral manner without promoting one benefit or procedure over another or minimizing the importance of one negative feature over another. And Summary Plan Descriptions SPD's must be clear and easy to use by employees.

The original rule requiring employers to prepare SPD's for the benefit plan participants and beneficiaries was announced in 1977. The rules governing what they must contain have grown dramatically over the years. Recent proposed changes to these regulations affect:

Claims procedures and response times,

Maternity stays in a hospital,

Mastectomy surgery,

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders,

Qualified Medical Child Support Orders,

Change in status, and

Pre-existing conditions

Provisions of investment information

 

these and other rule changes made in recent years have had/and continue to have profound effects on what a Summary Plan Description must describe.

Employers must continually consider rewriting their SPDs to conform to the new requirements. Otherwise, Summaries of Material Modifications (SMM) will become too numerous and the SPD will become a collection of memos. Participants and beneficiaries will not learn what they should know and not value their benefits as mush as they should.

One of the most significant changes has been the response of the government to new technology. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) permits health care plan summary plan descriptions to be published electronically. While no other type of summary plan descriptions are directly referenced, many plan administrators are looking at the tremendous cost savings and communications advantages of Web-based technologies for all their benefit plans.

This Guide is based on the interim and proposed SPD Content regulations as of January 22, 2001.

After reviewing this Guide, let us know what additional information you think SPD readers should receive in their SPD. We are also interested in your opinion on the following:

How can the SPD be more useful to employees?

How can it be more effective?

How can reader interest be increased in both the print and electronic versions of the SPD's?

What can be done to enhance the value of the SPD to the employer?

Send your response to:

In Plain English
PO Box 3300
Gaithersburg, MD 20885-3300

Or by e-mail to:

rwohl@inplainenglish.com

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Summary Plan Descriptions

(Employee Benefit Booklets)

Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) are employee benefit descriptions required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). These plan summaries must describe an employee's rights and obligations under his or her benefit plan in Plain English, and in a fair and unbiased manner. Labor Department regulations dictate when the SPD must be distributed, exactly what information must be contained in it, how the text should be designed, and the penalties for not complying with the regulations. Just complying with these regulations will meet ERISA requirements for disclosure. But, disclosure does not mean employees will readily understand their benefits, or how to use them more effectively or efficiently — to do that, is communication.

Turning disclosure into communication requires careful analysis of:

The benefit plan documents

How benefits are administered

Who will read the information

Many different audiences may read the SPD, each having a specific purpose in mind. These audiences not only include employees and their families, but human resource and benefit administrators, benefit providers, claims adjusters, lawyers, judges, juries, the press, and many others. Benefit information must be described sufficiently to be understood by each group in the same way. In addition, the SPD must be equally clear to employees of different cultures and levels of education, as well as those of different ages, lifestyles, and life stages.

What is said in the SPD must take into consideration many factors besides legal requirements:

How employees think about their benefits

Employee logic and reading comprehension levels

Difficult to understand benefit provisions

Sensitive administrative and labor issues

The purpose and strategic goals of the company's employee benefit philosophy

At In Plain English®, we believe that the summary plan description should be a clear, concise, correct and jargon-free guide for employees to learn about their benefits, as well as for the plan administrator to use to pay claims for benefits.

Employees read about their benefits when they need them and often when they are under stress. They need to have a successful first use of the SPD, or they may never refer to it again.  Typical insurance company-provided employee certificates, evidences of coverage, or "off the shelf" SPDs do not fully meet employee needs for adequate and worthwhile benefit communication.

Summary Plan Descriptions prepared by In Plain English® are custom prepared and specifically written for each client's benefits, objectives, and requirements.

In Plain English® is a full service, employee benefit and human resources communication firm. Since 1977, we have been helping our clients meet government requirements and "turn disclosure into communication." In Plain English® specializes in determining the precise audience's) for specific communications, getting into the audience's shoes, and writing and producing summary plan descriptions and other benefit communications employees logically and clearly understand and use.

In Plain English® believes that it is important to your project's ultimate success that you be comfortable with our editorial services. Consequently our services are provided on a fixed fee basis. This approach encourages client participation and questions. We work with you to sharpen the message and text until it is readily usable by your employees. 

"Our Guarantee"

In Plain English® will make all the changes you and your plan's legal counsel and other advisors require to bring the Summary Plan Description into full compliance with your plan document at no additional cost. We document each paragraph of our first draft so you can see what we used as the basis for our interpretation of your plan. We guarantee client satisfaction with our editorial product or we will rewrite the Summary Plan Description at no additional cost. We meet our deadlines.

In addition to writing summary plan descriptions, In Plain English® designs and produces the finished product, including developing the document's page layout, packaging, cover design and electronic posting in order to enhance the information's readability and usefulness. We can also print and produce the final copies for distribution, while being ever mindful of your benefit communication budget.

In Plain English® also prepares print and electronic highlights brochures, flex-benefit communications, orientation programs, employee handbooks, training materials, audio-visual presentations, and newsletters.

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Legal Requirements for

Benefit Communications

 

Summary Plan Descriptions

Summary plan descriptions (SPDs) which are mandated by ERISA (The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended).[1] They are the fundamental employee benefit communication employees receive from their employer.  SPDs have a big job.  They must describe the benefit plans they represent in a clear and comprehensive manner.  They also must describe the facts and procedures of a plan in a neutral manner, without promoting one benefit or procedure over another or minimizing the importance of any features.[2]

In 1998, the federal government recognized the need to allow employers to adapt their communications to the intranet. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was extended in 1998 to permit health care plan SPDs to be published electronically (ESPDs).[3]  In January 1999, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Pension and Welfare Benefit Plans announced proposed and interim rules to permit all other types of SPDs to be prepared for electronic distribution to participants and beneficiaries.[4]

This guide outlines what each SPD is required to contain to meet federal requirements for disclosure to plan participants and beneficiaries. These requirements include those for electronic summary plan descriptions (ESPDs). Each compliance issue is organized into a series of questions and answers to provide both a logical print version and electronic version for use by your company.

Please note:

        The following is meant to be a guide to those benefit plan administrators who are interested in producing their company’s summary plan descriptions (SPDs) for their employees or who want to be more effective managers of those internal or external resources who are given the assignment to prepare the SPDs and other benefit communications. This guide is not meant to replace competent legal advice from your plan advisor.

The information contained here is based on current, proposed and final regulations as issued by the Department of Labor as of  November 22, 2001.


How to Write Summary Plan Descriptions:  Language and Style

The Summary Plan Description must describe the benefit plan in a manner that is: “calculated to be understood by the average plan participant and shall be sufficiently comprehensive to apprise the plan’s participants and beneficiaries of their rights and obligations under the plan.”[5]

  Make sure the language is consistent throughout the SPD.  Present information in a single “voice” or style. 

  —"Although the SPD is a summary of the official Plan Document and is not the official Plan Document itself, a number of courts have held that the SPD is the document employees can rely on."[8]  Employees should be told to "see the Official Plan Document for more detailed descriptions of Plan rules and procedures and that if there is an inadvertent difference in meaning between the language in the SPD and the plan document, the language in the plan document will govern because it is the official document governing the plan, while the SPD is only a summary."[9]

      —Participants and beneficiaries should rely only on the written          information describing the plan, not on any oral statements made about the plan.

      —The SPD is not a contract of employment, nor does it give any rights to a job or continued employment.

      —The plan administrator and the plan trustees (if a trusteed plan) have the final discretionary authority to interpret the plan.[10]

      —The plan sponsor has the right to amend or discontinue the plan at any time.[11]


Foreign Language Requirements

  If a plan covers 100 or more participants, and at least 10%, or 500 participants, whichever is less, cannot comfortably understand written English but are literate in the same non-English language, you must provide those participants with an English language SPD bearing a statement that someone will explain the plan and its rights and obligations to them in their language. This statement must be printed prominently in that language on the first page of the SPD. An SPD translated into that language would, of course, fully comply with the regulation.[20]

  Care must be taken that translations are not only accurate, but that they say the same thing in the same context as the English language version.  Translations that are “dictionary correct” generally do not convey the same meaning as written translations by a native bilingual translator or spoken translations by a native language interpreter.  Many languages have dialects that vary greatly from the official version of the language.  Someone familiar with only a dialect version of his or her own native language will have a difficult time understanding a description of his or her employee benefits presented in either a different dialect of their native language or in the official version of that language. 

For example, Spanish has at least five different dialects plus the official version of Spanish called Castilian.  Certain English terms such as “coverage,” “blanket,” and “umbrella,” translate very differently in each dialect. 

  To remedy this translation problem, start with an original English version written in clear, conversational, plain English.  Have a bilingual translator, literate in the dialect of the majority of your non-English literate employees, translate the SPD into that language and dialect.  It is beneficial to identify at least one individual in each foreign language group of non-English literate employees, who could translate from English into that language.  This will enable you to better communicate your benefit communications as well as your human resources, safety, and other programs; and allow you to effectively communicate with non-English speaking employees.

  Translation software programs may help in the translation process.  However, all translations should be checked by a native speaker of the dialect to ensure that the translation is correct and does not sound funny when employees read or listen to it.  Keep in mind that the translation represents your best efforts at communicating in the minds of your employees.  Moreover, it should be just as clear and understandable to those employees as your best efforts at English based communications will be.  

Listed below are foreign language sentences that should appear on your first page of the Summary Plan Description if you meet the requirement to provide the bilingual translation.

      "If you do not read or understand English, please contact the Human Resource office and they will provide you with someone who will explain the information in this booklet in a language you do understand." 


Requirements for Electronic Summary Plan Descriptions (ESPDs)

  You may provide summary plan descriptions electronically if the following conditions are met:

  —You must take appropriate steps to ensure that participants actually receive the electronically transmitted information. This may be done by using a return receipt electronic mail feature or by conducting periodic reviews or surveys to confirm the integrity of the delivery system.[21]

  —The electronic disclosure must be consistent with the style, format, and content requirements that would apply to a paper disclosure of the same information.[22]

  —The document must qualify as an SPD.

  —The document must contain summary descriptions of changes in the benefits described in the SPD.

  —Each participant must be able to access electronic documents at his or her worksite and readily receive printed-paper versions at no charge at his or her worksite.[23]

       —You must notify each participant (through electronic or other means) of the      type of documents and the significance of those documents that are being electronically disclosed.[24]

  —You must provide a free paper copy of each document upon a participant’s request.[25]

  Assure that print versions of an electronic SPD contain all the information needed to meet the SPD requirements.[26]


What Content Must Appear In The Summary Plan Description

The information required to appear in summary plan descriptions is divided into three categories:

·        What must appear in all SPDs

·        What must appear in pension plan SPDs

·        What must appear in welfare plan SPDs

These regulations recognize the differences between collectively bargained plans and those that are not covered by collective bargaining agreements.  They also recognize that there are differences between the types of benefit plans within a category.

Not all content requirements come from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.  Some required content comes from other federal laws and regulations.  While many of these have been incorporated into ERISA, some have not.

For example, the requirements for electronic transmission of summary plan descriptions, originally introduced as a section of the Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act (HIPPA), are now a subsection of ERISA at 29 CFR 2520.104(b) through 1(c) while other requirements affecting investment information are governed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

To make these regulations easier to follow, we have divided the SPD content regulations into two categories:

  ·        What must appear in pension plan SPDs

  ·        What must appear in welfare plan SPDs

and have included the information required to appear in all SPDs into both categories.  Many of these regulations have been updated over the years.

On November 21, 2000, the US Labor Department finalized the SPD content and disclosure regulations and announced that they would go into effect on January 22, 2001.  These revisions address virtually every aspect of the disclosure regulations and will mean that most SPDs will need either to be rewritten or supplemented with Summaries of Material Modifications in a relatively short time.   All benefit plans need to be in compliance with these extensively revised regulations by the second plan year beginning after January 22, 2000.  The citation to the legal background for each of these requirements is shown so you can see it’s history.

  The content requirements that follow could change to reflect differing interpretations of federal rules or additions or changes to regulations after the publication of this book. Keep in mind, however, that the plan administrator and plan sponsor are in no way relieved from their fiduciary responsibilities if inaccurate or out-of-date information is included.



[1] 29 CFR §2520.102-1

[2] 29 CFR §2520.102-2 (b)

[3] Proposed 29 CFR 2520.104b-1 (c)

[4] 29 CFR §2520.104(b)-1(c)

[5] CFR §2520.102-2 (a)

[6] 29 CFR §2520.102-2(a)(b)

[7] 29 CFR §2520.102-2 (b)

[8] Aiken v. Policy Management Systems Corp., 1993 U.S. App. (4th Cir., Dec. 30, 1993)

    Mers v. Marriott International Group Accident Plan (C.A.-7, 5-8-98)

[9] Christie v. K-Mart Corp. Employees Retirement Pension Plan, 784F. Supp. 796 (D.Kan. 1992)

[10] 29 CFR §2520.102-3(1)

[11] 29 CFR §2520.102-3(1)

 [12] 29 CFR §2520.102-4

[13] 29 CFR §2520.104b-2 (2)

[14] 29 CFR §2520.104b-2 (1)

[15] 29 CFR §2520.104b-2 (1)

[16] 29 CFR §2520.104b-2

[17] 29 CFR §2520.104b-2 (b)(1)(ii)

[18] 29 CFR §2520.104(b)(1)

[19] 29 CFR §2520.104b-3

[20] 29 CFR §2520.102-2(c)(1)(2)

[21] Interim 29 CFR §2520-104b-1(c)(i)

[22] Interim 29 CFR §2520.104b-1(c)(ii)

[23] Interim 29 CFR §2520.104b-1(c)(2)(i)

[24] Interim 29 CFR §2520.104b-1(c)(iii)

[25] 29 CFR §2520.104b-1(c)(1)(iii)

[26] Interim 29 CFR §2520.104b-1(c)(ii)

 

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Pension Plans

required content and citation to federal regulations

Requirements as of 11/21/00

Citation

Plan Administration

 

Formal name of the plan

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (a)

Informal name of the plan

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (a)

Plan sponsor name

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b)

Plan sponsor address

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b)

Statement that: A complete list of employers or employee organizations sponsoring the plan may be obtained by a plan participant or beneficiary upon written request to the plan administrator.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b) (3) (I)

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b) (4) (I)

29 CFR §2520.104b-1 & 30

Statement that: A participant or beneficiary may request in writing to the plan administrator whether a particular employer is a sponsor and if so their address.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b) (3) (ii)

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b) (4) (ii)

29 CFR §2520.104-1 & 30

The plan sponsor’s Employer Identification Number

The plan number assigned by the plan sponsor

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (c)

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (c)

Information required under a 404(3) plan:

§         Identification of any designated investment managers.

 

§         An explanation of the conditions under which participants may give investment instructions and limits on such instructions, including:

-    Any restrictions on transfers to or from an investment option

-    Any restrictions on exercising voting, tender, and similar rights.

 

§         A description of any purchase or sales fees and expenses that affect the participant’s account balance (for example, commissions, sales load, deferred sales charges, or redemption or exchange fees).

 

§         A description of the information that participants can request from the plan fiduciary, and the name, address, and phone number of the plan fiduciary responsible for providing this information.

ERISA §404 (c) (a)

§         For plans that offer company stock:

 

-     A description of the procedures for ensuring confidentiality of information relating to a participant’s purchase, holding, and sale of employer stocks and exercise of voting, tender and similar rights.  If the company stock is publicly traded, it must meet Rule 16b-3 and provide Rule 144 information.

 

-     The name, address, and phone number of the plan fiduciary responsible for monitoring compliance with these procedures.

 

How the plan is administered

29 CFR §2520.102-3(e)

Plan administrator’s name

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (f)

Plan administrator’s address

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (f)

Plan administrator’s business telephone number

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (f)

Plan year date

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (r)

Agent to receive service of legal papers

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (g)

Legal agent’s address

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (g)

Statement that: Service of legal papers (process) also may be made upon the plan administrator or a plan trustee.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (g)

For each plan trustee:

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (h)

Trustee’s title

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (h)

Trustee’s name & title

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (h)

Trustee's principal place of business and address

 

For a collectively-bargained plan:

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (i)

Statement that: A copy of all collective bargaining agreements regarding this plan may be obtained by participants and beneficiaries through written request to a plan trustee or the plan administrator.

29 CFR §2520.104b-8-30

Plan Eligibility

 

Plan requirements regarding eligibility to participate

29 CFR §2520.102-3(j)

Plan requirements regarding eligibility for benefits

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (j)

Statement describing plan’s Normal Retirement Age and any other conditions of eligibility for benefits at normal, early, late, disability, or other retirement, or termination.

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (j) (1)

Summary of Benefits, Rights, and Obligations

 

Description of plans benefits (summary) for current and future participants and beneficiaries of the current plan.

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (j) (1)

Description of the procedure for Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QRDO) determinations or a statement that: Participants and beneficiaries can obtain a description of the procedure for Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) determinations at no charge from the Plan Administrator.

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (j) (1)

 

Definition of compensation for each purpose used.

 

Statement that: There is a 20% mandatory withholding on all distributions or payments, other than distributions of company stock, over the life (or life expectancy) of the employee and his or her designated beneficiary.

Unemployment Compensation Amendments Act of 1992 (UCA)

IRS 3405 (e) (8)

Description of any joint and survivor benefits.

 

Description of any election to select or reject the joint and survivor annuity and the effect of each option.

 

Companies that charge for the joint and survivor benefit are required to notify their active employees between the first day of the plan year in which the employee reaches age 32 and the end of the plan year in which s/he reaches age 34.  For an employee hired after age 32, the notice is not required until one year after s\he becomes a participant.  The notice must explain the surviving spouse’s benefit, including the spouse’s rights, the employee’s right to waive with spousal consent and the effect of a waiver, and the employee’s right to revoke a waiver and its effect.

29 CFR §2520.102-3(k)

Statement clearly identifying circumstances which may result in disqualification, denial, loss, forfeiture, or suspension of any benefits at normal, early, late, disability, or other retirement, or termination, as well as upon withdrawal from the plan or withdrawal of funds

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3(l)

Summary of circumstances and plan provisions governing the authority of the plan sponsors or others to terminate the plan, or amend or eliminate benefits.

 

Summary of plan provisions governing benefits, rights, and obligations of plan participants and beneficiaries on termination of the plan or amendment or elimination of benefits, including for a pension plan:

 

§         Summary of plan provisions relating to accrual and vesting of pension benefits on plan termination.

 

§         Summary of plan provisions governing allocation and
disposition of assets on termination.

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (m)

 

Employers of 50 or more employees must describe how certain benefits will be maintained while an employee is on up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for birth or adoption of a child, for the care of a seriously ill family member, or for the employee’s serious illness.

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993:

PBGC statement for insured plans

 

Statement of whether the plan is insured by the PBGC and reason why.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (m)

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (I)

 

[For a single-employer plan]

 

Your pension benefits under this plan are insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal insurance agency.  If the plan terminates (ends) without enough money to pay all benefits, the PBGC will step in to pay pension benefits they would have received under their plan, but some people may lose certain benefits.

 

The PBGC guarantee generally covers:

 

(1)   Normal and early retirement benefits.

 

(2)   Disability benefits if you become disabled

      before the plan terminates.

 

(3)   Certain benefits for your survivors.

 

The PBGC guarantee generally does not cover:

(1)   Benefits greater than the maximum guaranteed amount set by law for the year in which the plan terminates.

 

(2)   Some or all of benefit increases and new benefits based on plan provisions that have been in place for fewer than 5 years at the time the plan terminates. 

 

(3)   Benefits that are not vested because you have not worked long enough for the company. 

 

(4)   Benefits for which you have not met all of the requirements at the time the plan terminates. 

 

(5)   Certain early retirement payments (such as supplemental benefits that stop when you become eligible for Social Security) that result in an early retirement monthly benefit greater than your monthly benefit at the plan’s normal retirement age. 

 

(6)   Non-pension benefits, such as health insurance, life insurance, certain death benefits, vacation pay, and severance pay.

 

Even if certain of your benefits are not guaranteed, you still may receive some of those benefits from the PBGC depending on how much money your plan has and how much the PBGC collects from employers.

 

For more information about the PBGC and the benefits it guarantees, ask your plan administrator or contact the PBGC’s Technical Assistance Division, 1200 K Street, N.W., Suite 930, Washington, DC 20005-4026, or call 202-326-4000 (not a toll-free number).  TTY/TTD users may call the federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4000. 

 

Additional information about the PBGC’s pension insurance program is available through the PBGC’s website on the Internet at http://www.pbgc.gov.

 

[For a Multiemployer Plan]

 

Your pension benefits under this multiemployer plan are insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal insurance agency.  A multiemployer plan is a collectively bargained  pension arrangement involving two or more unrelated employers, usually in a common industry.

 

Under the multiemployer plan program, the PBGC provides financial assistance through loans to plans that are insolvent.  A multiemployer plan is considered insolvent if the plan is unable to pay benefits (at least equal to the PBGC's guaranteed benefit limit) when due.

 

The maximum benefit that the PBGC guarantees is set by law.  Under the multiemployer program, the PBGC guarantee equals a participant's years of service multiplied by(1) 100% of the first $5 of the monthly benefit accrual rate and (2) 75% of the next $15.  The PBGC's maximum guarantee limit is $16.25  per month times a participant's years of service.  For example, the maximum annual guarantee for a participant with 30 years of service would be $5,850.

 

The PBGC guarantee generally covers:

 

(1) Normal and early retirement benefits.

(2) Disability benefits if you become disabled before

      the plan becomes insolvent; and

(3) Certain benefits for your survivors.

 

The PBGC guarantee generally does not cover:

 

(1) Benefits greater than the maximum guaranteed

      amount set by law

(1)   Benefit increases and new benefits based on plan

      provisions that have been in place for fewer than 5

      years at the earlier of:

(i)                 the date the plan terminates,  or

(ii)               the time the plan becomes insolvent

(2)   Benefits that are not vested because you have not

      worked long enough

(3)   Benefits for which you have not met all of the

      requirements at the time the plan becomes insolvent,  (5) Non pension benefits, such as health insurance, life

      insurance, certain death benefits, vacation pay, and

      severance pay.

 

For more information about the PBGC and the benefits it guarantees, ask your plan administrator or contact the PBGC’s Technical Assistance Division, 1200 K Street, N.W. Suite 930, Washington, DC 20005-4026, or call 202-326-4000 (not a toll-free number).  TTY/TDD users may call the federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4000.  Additional information about the PBGC’s pension insurance program is available through the PBGC’s internet web site at http://www.pbgc.gov

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (m)(2)

29 CFR §2520.102-3(m)(3)

Description and explanation of the Plan Provisions for determining years of service for eligibility for:

§         Participation

§         Vesting

-generally

-upon re-employment

-if the plan becomes top heavy

§         Breaks in service

 

 

 

§         Years of participation for benefits accrual

      -full benefits

      -probation for less than full service for one year

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (n)

 

DOL Opinion Letter 85-005A 2/5/85

29 CFR §2520.102-3(n)

 

 

 

The sources of contributions to the plan and the method by which these amounts are calculated (with examples). Statement that contributions to a defined benefit pension plan is actuarially determined.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (p)

Identity of any funding medium for the accumulation of any assets and who maintains it, such as an insurance company, trust fund, or any other institution, organization or other entity through whom benefits are provided.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (q)

Claims and Appeals Process

 

Claims and appeals procedure:

§         Obtaining and filing claim forms

§         Notifications of benefit determinations

§         Review of denied claims

§         Time limits

§         Appeals process for denied claims in whole or in part.

Claims procedures may be furnished in the SPD or in a separate booklet along with the SPD, provided the SPD contains a statement that: The plan’s claims procedures are furnished automatically, without charge, as a separate document.

 

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (s)

Statement of ERISA Rights

[Use only those portions applicable to the plan]

 

As a participant in (name of plan) you are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).  ERISA provides that all plan participants shall be entitled to:

 

Receive Information About Your Plan and Benefits

 

§         Examine, without charge, at the plan administrator’s office and at other specified locations, such as worksites and union halls, all documents governing the plan, including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) filed by the plan with the U.S. Department of Labor and available at the Public Disclosure Room of the Pension and Welfare Benefit Administration.

 

§         Obtain, upon written request to the plan administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the plan, including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and updated summary plan description.  The administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.

 

§         Receive a summary of the plan’s annual financial report.  The plan administrator is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of his or her summary annual report.

 

§         Obtain a statement telling you whether you have a right to receive a pension at normal retirement age (age***) and if so, what your benefits would be at normal retirement age if you stop working under the plan now.  If you do not have a right to pension, the statement will tell you how many more years you have to work to get a right to a pension.  This statement must be requested in writing and is not required to be given more than once every twelve months.  The plan must provide the statement free of charge.

 

Prudent Actions by Plan Fiduciaries

 

In addition to creating rights for plan participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the employee benefit plan.  The people who operate your plan, called “fiduciaries” of the plan, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of you and other plan participants and beneficiaries.  No one, including your employer, your union, or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a pension benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA.

 

Enforce Your Rights

 

 If your claim for a pension benefit is denied  or ignored, in whole or in part, you have a right to know why this was done, to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge, and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules.

 

Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce the above rights.  For instance, if you request a copy of the plan documents or the latest annual report from the plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a Federal court.  In such a case, the court may require the plan administrator to provide materials and pay you up to $110 a day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the administrator. 

 

If you have a claim for benefits which is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you may file suit in a state or Federal court.  In addition, if you disagree with the plan’s decision or lack of a decision, concerning the qualified status of a domestic relations order or a medical child support order, you may file suit in Federal court. 

 

If it should happen that the plan fiduciaries misuse the plan’s money or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or you may file suit in a Federal court.  The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees.  If you are successful, the court may order the person you have sued to pay these costs and fees.  If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for example if it finds your claim is frivolous.

 

Assistance with Your Questions

 

If you have any questions about your plan, you should contact the plan administrator. 

 

If you have any questions about this statement or about your rights under ERISA, or if you need assistance in obtaining documents from the plan administrator, you should contact the nearest office of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in your telephone directory or the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210.  You may also obtain certain publications about your rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration.


 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (t) (2)

 


Welfare Plans required content and citations to federal regulations

Requirements as of 11/21/00

Citation

 

Plan Administration

 

Formal name of the plan

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (a)

Informal name of the plan

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (a)

Plan sponsor name

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b)

Plan sponsor address

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b)

Statement that: A complete list of employers or employee organizations sponsoring the plan may be obtained by a plan participant or beneficiary upon written request to the plan administrator.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b) (3) (I)

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b) (4) (I)

29 CFR §2520.104b-1 & 30

Statement that: A participant or beneficiary may request in writing to the plan administrator whether a particular employer is a sponsor and if so their address.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b) (3) (ii)

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (b) (4) (ii)

29 CFR §2520.104-1 & 30

The plan sponsor’s Employer Identification Number

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (c)

The plan number assigned by the plan sponsor

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (c)

The type of welfare plan.  Includes: 

group health plan, disability plan, pre-paid legal services plan, flexible benefits plan, life insurance plan, HMO, PPO, etc.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (d)

How the plan is administered

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (e)

Plan administrator’s name

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (f)

Plan administrator’s address

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (f)

Plan administrator’s business telephone number

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (f)

Plan year date

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (r)

Agent to receive service of legal papers

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (g)

Legal agent’s address

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (g)

Statement that: Service of legal papers (process) also may be made upon the plan administrator or a plan trustee.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (g)

For each plan trustee:

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (h)

Trustee’s name

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (h)

Trustee's title

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (h)

Trustee’s principal place of business and address

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (h)

For a collectively-bargained plan

Statement that: A copy of the collective bargaining agreements regarding this plan may be obtained by participants and beneficiaries through written request to a plan trustee or the plan administrator.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (i)

29 CFR §2520.104b-8-30

Plan Eligibility

 

Limitations on pre-existing condition exclusions and waiting periods.

HIPPA of 1996

Plan requirements regarding eligibility of each class of participants to participate to participate.

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (j)

Description of:

§         Classes excluded

§         Requirements for showing evidence of insurability

§         Definition of dependents

 

 

Plan requirements regarding eligibility for benefits

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (j)

Summary of Benefits, Rights, and Obligations

 

Description of plan’s benefits (summary)

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (j) (2)

Description of the procedure for Qualified Medical Child Support Order (QMCSO) determinations or a statement that: Participants and beneficiaries can obtain a description of procedures for Qualified Medical Support Order determinations at no charge form the plan administrator.

 

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (j) (2)

Group health plans must describe:

§         Cost sharing provisions including premiums paid by employees.

 

§         Deductibles

 

§         Coinsurance

 

§         Co-payments and any plan provisions that could result in a fee charge to a participant or beneficiary in order to obtain a benefit

 

§         Annual or lifetime caps or other limits on benefits

 

§         Extent of coverage of preventive services

 

§         The plan’s coverage, if any, and the circumstances under which coverage is provided for:

 

- Existing and new drugs

 

- Medical tests

 

- Devices and procedures

 

- Out-of-network services

 

- Use of network providers

 

- General description of the provider network and a statement that: Provider lists are furnished without charge as a separate document on  enrollment in the plan and upon your request.

 

- Composition of provider network if a separate document is not provided

 

§         Conditions or limits on:

 

- Selection of primary care providers

 

- Selection of providers of specialty medical care

 

- Obtaining emergency medical care

 

§         Requirements for pre-authorization or utilization review prior to obtaining a benefit or service.

 

 

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (j) (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (l)

 

A group health plan and a health insurance issuer providing group health insurance coverage for a mastectomy shall provide notice regarding the plan’s coverage of elective breast reconstruction and of the coverage of reconstruction of both breasts, if needed to provide symmetry, and of any prostheses and complications including lymph edemas. 

Notice must be prominently positioned and appear in any literature or correspondence regarding the coverage by the plan:

 

§         In the next mailing to the participant or beneficiary

§         As part of any yearly information sent to participants or beneficiaries

§         Sent not later than 1/1/99

DOL, HHS, Education of Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1999 establishing ERISA §713 (3) (b)

Statement regarding hospital stay for mothers and newborns:

Your health plan and/or group health insurance insurer may not, under federal law, restrict benefits for any hospital stay in connection with childbirth for the mother or newborn child to less than 48 hours following a vaginal delivery, or less than 96 hours following a cesarean section.  However, the mother’s or the newborn’s attending provider, after consulting with the mother, may discharge the mother or her newborn earlier than 48 hours (or 96 hours as applicable).  In any case, no pre-authorization from your health plan or the group health insurance insurer is needed for a stay of up to 48 hours (or 96 hours).

Newborn and Mothers Health Protection Act of 1996 revised 9/9/98

 

29 CFR 2520.102-3(u)

Statement clearly identifying circumstances which may result in disqualification, denial, loss, forfeiture, third party recovery, or suspension of any benefits.

29 CFR§2520.102-3 (l)

Summary of circumstances and plan provisions governing the authority of the plan sponsors or others to terminate the plan, or amend or eliminate benefits.

 

Summary of plan provisions governing benefits, rights, and obligations of plan participants and beneficiaries on termination of the plan or amendment or elimination of benefits.

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (m)

Employers of 50 or more employees must describe how certain benefits will be maintained while an employee is on up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for birth or adoption of a child, for the care of a seriously ill family member, or for the employees serious illness.

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993:

Continuation of coverage (COBRA).

§         Description of rights and obligations

§         Qualifying events

§         Qualified beneficiaries

§         Premiums

§         Notice and election requirements and procedures

§         Duration of coverage

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (o)

The sources of contributions to the plan and the method by which these amounts are calculated. 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (p)

Identity, including name and address, of any funding medium for the accumulation of any assets and who maintains it, such as an insurance company, trust fund, or any other institution, organization, or other entity through whom benefits are provided.

 

Whether, and to what extent, benefits are guaranteed under an insurance policy or other contract; and the type of administrative services provided by the insurer.

29 CFR 2520.102-3 (q) (HIPPA 1996-)

Claims and Appeals Process

 

 

Claims procedures for:

 

§         Health plans

-         Pre-authorizations

-         Approvals

-         Utilization review decisions

 

§         All welfare plans

-         Filing claim forms

-         Notifications of benefit determinations

-         Review of denied claims (initial and final denials)

 

-         Time limits (especially for the appeal of a final denial)

-         Penalties

-         Appeals process for claims denied in whole or in part.

 

 

§         Claims procedures may be furnished in the SPD or in a separate booklet along with the SPD, provided the SPD contains a statement that: The plan’s claims procedures are furnished automatically, without charge, as a separate document.

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (s)

Statement of ERISA Rights

[Use only those portions applicable to the plan]

 

As a participant in (name of plan) you are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).  ERISA provides that all plan participants shall be entitled to:

 

Receive Information About Your Plan and Benefits

 

§         Examine, without charge, at the plan administrator’s office and at other specified locations, such as worksites and union halls, all documents governing the plan, including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) filed by the plan with the U.S. Department of Labor and available at the Public Disclosure Room of the Pension and Welfare Benefit Administration.

 

§         Obtain, upon written request to the plan administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the plan, including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and updated summary plan description.  The administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.

 

 

§         Receive a summary of the plan’s annual financial report.  The plan administrator is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of his or her summary annual report.

 

Continue Group Health Plan Coverage

 

Continue health care coverage for yourself, spouse, or dependent if there is a loss of coverage under the plan as a result of a qualifying event.  You or your dependents may have to pay for this coverage.  Review this summary plan description and the documents governing the plan on the rules governing  your COBRA continuation coverage rights.

 

Reduction or elimination of exclusionary periods of coverage for preexisting conditions under your group health plan, if you have creditable coverage from another plan.  You should be provided a certificate of creditable coverage, free of charge, from your group health plan or health insurance issuer when you lose coverage under the plan, when you become entitled to elect COBRA continuation coverage, when your COBRA continuation coverage ceases, if you request it before losing coverage, or if you request it up to 24 months after losing coverage.  Without evidence of creditable coverage, you may be subject to a preexisting condition exclusion for 12 months  (18 months for late enrollees) after your enrollment date in your coverage.

 

 

Prudent Actions By Plan Fiduciaries

 

In addition to creating rights for plan participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the employee benefit plan.  The people who operate your plan, called “fiduciaries” of the plan, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of you and other plan participants and beneficiaries.  No one, including your employer, your union, or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a welfare benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA.

 

Enforce Your Rights

 

 If your claim for a welfare benefit is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you have a right to know why this was done, to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge, and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules.

 

Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce the above rights.  For instance, if you request a copy of plan documents or the latest annual report from the plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a Federal court.  In such a case, the court may require the plan administrator to provide materials and pay you up to $110 a day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the administrator.

 

 

If you have a claim for benefits which is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you may file suit in a state or Federal court.  In addition, if you disagree with the plan’s decision or lack of a decision concerning the qualified status of a domestic relations order or a medical child support order, you may file suit in Federal court. 

 

 

If it should happen that the plan fiduciaries misuse the plan’s money or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or you may file suit in a Federal court.  The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees.  If you are successful, the court may order the person you have sued to pay these costs and fees.  If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for example if it finds your claim is frivolous.

 

Assistance With Your Questions

 

If you have any questions about your plan, you should contact the plan administrator.

 

If you have any questions about this statement or about your rights under ERISA, or if you need assistance in obtaining documents from the plan administrator, you should contact the nearest office of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in you telephone directory or the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210.  You may also obtain certain publications about your rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration.

 

 

29 CFR §2520.102-3 (t) (2)

 

 


 

Should You Use A Summary Plan Description Prepared by Your Legal Counsel, Other Benefit Provider, or A Communications Consultant

  The objective of preparing a summary plan description is to produce a clear, comprehensive, easily understood, summary of the rights and obligations of the plan  for the plan participants and beneficiaries.  How this objective is achieved depends on a number of factors including your ability to:

      ·        analyze the plan document

·        write clearly and comprehensively

·        produce an attractive and easily readable booklet

·        distribute the SPD to all participants and beneficiaries.

  If you can meet these objectives and produce the SPD within the organization, do so. 

Analysis is extremely important and will require you to set up a review process to assure that your analysis was accurate.  After all, inaccurate or unclear information or presentation could have very troubling consequences.

  Asking your lawyer to prepare the SPD should assure the accuracy of the analysis of the plan document.  Depending on the complexity of the benefit plan, legal preparation can be quite expensive for a small to mid-size firm.  Even if the lawyer turns the SPD over to a paralegal to prepare, there will still be a need for review by counsel.  Since most legal writing is complex and difficult to understand, care must be given to providing a readability review through an employee advisory council. In addition, some lawyers prefer to include the entire plan document along with the SPD.  A number of court decisions around the country have held that including the plan document could confuse the reader and defeat the purpose of a “summary” plan description.[1]

  When using your benefit plan provider to prepare your summary plan description, keep in mind that the legal responsibility to provide an SPD to your employees rests with your organization, not the provider.  Consequently, while the cost will be very low, or seemingly free, most of these SPDs are mass-produced without a specific focus on your plan or all the features of your plan.  These SPDs also lack the design and employee appreciation values that SPDs you produce can have.  Often, these SPDs have been converted from a certificate of coverage by adding a few pages to the front and back of the document to contain the required ERISA names, numbers, addresses, and statements.  This is also called a “wrap-around”. If you use a "wrap around" be sure all the information is relevant to your plan.

Outsourcing to a benefits communication consultant to prepare the SPD should produce a clear and readable SPD.  However, just as preparing the SPD within the organization requires an internal process of review, so does preparation by an outside consultant.  Outside communications consultant fees will vary depending on the experience and organization of the consultant you choose. It will be very helpful to request the consultant to document the factual information from which the SPD was prepared.  In this way, you will know where the consultant found the information that served as the basis for the statements he or she made.  This audit path can be very valuable for tracing any document back to its roots. 

Another important consideration is the extent of the experience and the interest of the consultant.  Many communications consultants prefer to prepare benefit statements, orientation programs, enrollment programs, electronic media, and other more exciting projects.  Consequently, you should look for a consultant who can do what he or she says they can do and who has successfully prepared several SPDs.  One way to assure this level of quality is to look for a Consultant certified by the Institute of Management Consultants or the International Association of Business Communicators, International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans, Society of Human Resource Management, or the American Compensation Association.

Whichever route you choose, be sure the writer uses up-to-date plan documents and summary plan description content requirements as the basis for their writing.

[1] Wise v. El Paso Natural Gas Co., (CA-5, 3-25-93)

   Mers v. Marriott International Group Accident Plan (CA-7, 5-8-98)

   Everson v. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Ohio (District Court, ND Ohio, 6-15-94)

[2] Wise v. El Paso Natural Gas Co., (CA-5, 3-25-93)

   Mers v. Marriott International Group Accident Plan (CA-7, 5-8-98)

   Everson v. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Ohio (District Court, ND Ohio, 6-15-94)

 


Planning Questions to ask before Preparing the Summary Plan Description

WHO...  
Who is responsible for managing the project?  
Who is the target audience?  
Who will supervise the project?  
Who will approve the work done?  
Who will review the drafts?  
Who will write the drafts?  
Who will supply documentation?  
Who will answer questions from the writer?  
Who will receive drafts form the writer?  
Who will coordinate reviews?  
Who will test the contents for readability and usability?  
Who will sign-off on the text?  
Who will create the graphic artwork?  
Who will review the artwork?  
Who will approve the artwork?  
Who will prepare the printing specifications?  
Who will print the document?  
Who will approve the printer’s blueline?  
Who will approve the printing specifications?  
Who will approve the final printed product?  
Who will distribute the document?  
Who will record who received the document?  
Who will store the undistributed documents?  
Who will send out requested or additional documents to new or current employees and beneficiaries?  
Who will post it on the intranet?  
Who will monitor the document usage on the intranet?  
Who will answer questions about information in the document?  
Who will make corrections and updates to the document?  
Who will prepare summaries of material modifications?  
Who will publicize the document to employees and beneficiaries?  
Who will evaluate success of the document?  
WHAT...  
What is the purpose of the document?  
What are the objectives for its use?  
What is the priority for preparation?  
What is the budget?  
What will be the means of distribution?  
WHERE...  
Where will the supporting documentation come from?  
Where will it be written?  
Where will it be designed?  
Where will it be printed?  
Where will it be stored?  

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The SPD Planning Schedule

Plan Number Plan Name of ERISA Qualified Plans for which a Summary Plan Description must be provided Date of Plan Anniversary Date SPD must be distributed Who will write the SPD Who will review Date Plan Documents completed Date first draft to be completed
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               

 

Date reviewed by plan advisors Date second draft completed Date reviewed by advisors Date graphic design completed Date Printed Date Distributed Date put on the internet Date of first SMM
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               

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