What exactly is an SPD?
An SPD (Summary Plan Description) is a reader-friendly document that informs ERISA welfare benefit plan participants about their plan and how it operates. It’s an extremely helpful tool for both employers and employees. It simplifies the administrative burden an employer is normally forced to carry, and makes the form 5500 filing process much easier. It also gives employees detailed information about their benefits which can prevent missteps in the future.
Which employers need an SPD and why?
Private sector employers of any size who sponsor an ERISA welfare benefit plan are required to provide an SPD to all eligible employees who participate in the plan. A welfare benefit plan includes health, dental, vision, life, disability plan, FSAs, HRAs and employee assistance programs (EAPs).
What makes an SPD special?
Often, employers believe that the master contracts, benefit summaries or insurance certificates have the language required by ERISA. This is not the case, and ERISA places the burden of satisfying the SPD requirement on the plan administrator, which is generally the employer. Employers are subject to penalties for non-compliant SPDs. In addition, SPDs are typically the first item requested and reviewed during a DOL audit.
Many employers may choose to “wrap” or bundle their benefits into one plan. Wrap plan documents are designed to supplement the existing insurance carrier certificates with the required ERISA language.
Why do I need help with a WRAP SPD?
ERISA lays out very specific requirements regarding the content, formatting, delivery, and deadline of the SPD, and the Department of Labor recently increased their ERISA audit frequency to make sure these rules are being followed. These requirements are also subject to consistent changes, making it more difficult for employers to remain compliant on their own.
The most recent change came on April 1st: a new regulation said employer sponsored plans subject to ERISA and providing a benefit contingent on a disability determination will need to comply with new rules finalized by the Department of Labor. You don’t want to be left to make the necessary adjustments on your own – that’s when compliance mistakes are likely to occur.
BASIC simplifies the task of generating your Wrap SPD. Our ERISA attorney and plan document specialists deliver consultative support for your Fully-Insured or Self-Insured SPD requirements. BASIC is committed to ensuring all of our ERISA Essentials Clients remain compliant with any new DOL regulation. That is why we updated each ERISA Essentials client Wrap SPD and Wrap Plan Documents to reflect the final rule for disability claims filed after April 1, 2018. Our stand-alone Wrap SPD clients can elect to receive a Summary Material Modifications (SMM) from their Regional Director. With the increased DOL ERISA audits you can rest-easy knowing your company is fully compliant.