Do you have questions about your employer sponsored retirement plan? Many employees do and rightly so since they invest their hard earned money in those plans and then relinquish much of the administration and control of the plan to others. Employees are entitled to specific information about the plan in which they participate if the plan falls under the jurisdiction of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA applies to most private employer retirement plans.
Information You are Entitled to When you Enroll
Within the first 90 days of your participation in the retirement plan, you should receive a Summary Plan Description which describes your benefits, rights and obligations in clear and easy to understand language. It is important to carefully review this document and review any questions or concerns with the plan administrator.
Information You are Entitled to Periodically
Additional information must be provided to plan participants periodically. That information includes:
· Summary of Material Modification: this needs to be provided to participants and beneficiaries within 210 days of the end of the year in which the material modification occurred.
· Summary Annual Report: this narrative report should be automatically provided to every participant and beneficiary within 9 months of the year end.
· Periodic Pension Benefit Statement: this should be provided quarterly if employees direct their own investments and annually if the employer directs the investments. The statement must include the value of specific investments within the account. With proper notice to employees about their right to such a statement, it may be provided less frequently.
· Notification of Significant Reduction in Future Benefit Accruals: disclosure of significant reductions in future benefit accruals should be made to participants about 45 days before the change takes place.
· Annual Funding Statement: participants and beneficiaries should receive annual notice about the funding condition and financial health of the retirement plan.
· Notice of Intent to Terminate: If the employer intends to terminate the plan then notice must be provided to participants and beneficiaries between 60 -90 days before the termination is to take place. The Notice should include options available for participants and beneficiaries.
Information You are Entitled to Upon Request
If you request the following information in writing then the plan administrator must provide you with copies within 30 days:
· Plan Documents: plan documents include the latest summary plan description, Form 5500, trust agreement and other instruments under which the plan is established or operated.
· Statement of Accrued and Nonforfeitable Benefits: your employer is required to provide this information to you once a year, if you so request.
The notifications described above are just a sampling of the important notifications that need to be provided to retirement plan participants. Employers have the responsibility to furnish the notifications and employees have the responsibility to review them so that employees understand specific information about their retirement benefits.
Retirement plans should not be secretive and you should not be surprised when you open your first benefits statement upon retirement. ERISA encourages open communication with employees about their retirement benefits. If you have any question about the frequency or content of your notifications then you should not hesitate to contact your plan administrator for further explanation.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.