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By Benetrends • January 12, 2014

Retirement Plan Documents

A Primer on Plan Documents

A qualified retirement plan is governed by rules outlined in a written plan document. This plan document tells the employer and employees how the plan is supposed to work, what are the eligibility and vesting requirements, how benefits are determined, and when benefits will be paid out. For most plans, including almost all Benetrends clients' plans, the plan document is comprised of at least three key pieces. Each one is important and has a special purpose.

Basic Plan Document

This document contains all of the legal and technical requirements applicable to the plan. It describes the optional provisions available for the employer to elect for their specific plan.

Adoption Agreement

This document contains the elective provisions the employer may choose for their plan. It allows the employer to customize the plan to suit their employees retirement savings goals. The employer must complete and timely execute (sign and date) the Adoption Agreement to legally use the provisions.

Summary Plan Description (SPD)

This booklet is designed to help the employees understand the retirement benefits provided under the plan. It contains a nontechnical summary of the major features of the plan. The employer is required by ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) to provide a copy of the SPD to an eligible employee within 90 days of first becoming a participant; however, it is recommended to provide a copy as soon as possible (i.e. a new-hire packet). When a plan is amended or restated (i.e. changed to reflect new provisions), all participants are required to receive a copy of a new SPD within 210 days after the close of the applicable plan year.

If you have any questions about your specific plan and your plan documents, please feel free to contact your Retirement Plan Analyst or call 866-423-6387.