If you receive healthcare benefits from your employer, you should have access to a Summary Plan Description (SPD). In a nutshell, the SPD provides important details about your company’s benefits plan and how it works. Required by law, the SPD defines when employees become eligible to participate in the plan, how benefits are calculated and paid, how to submit claims, when benefits are fully guaranteed, and more. Here’s a breakdown about the ever-important Summary Plan Description.
A Summary Plan Description is a document that employers must provide at no charge to employees who participate in Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)-covered retirement plans or health benefit plans.
Within 90 days of your hire date, you should receive an SPD covering your new employer’s healthcare and retirement benefits. You may receive the document electronically or as a hard copy. If you only receive an electronic copy, you can request a written version.
If you need a copy of the SPD, contact your benefits plan administrator or HR department.
The SPD should be written in clear, simple language that all employees can understand*. It must include:
*If 10 percent or more of a company’s employees speak a language other than English, the SPD must be published in those other languages too.
Read your company’s SPD carefully to learn more about:
The SPD should define specifically which employees are entitled to various benefits. It should also outline whether the benefits apply to independent contractors, temporary workers, spouses, domestic partners and children.
Companies may change their benefit plans from time to time. When a benefits plan is modified, the employer must notify all employees in writing. Employees should receive either a revised SPD or a Summary of Material Modifications (SMM) document that explains the changes.
The company must distribute the notification within 60 days of the change becoming effective if it reduces coverage or benefits. If the changes do not reduce coverage or benefits, the notification must be provided within 210 days after the end of the plan year in which the change became effective.
If you have questions about your company’s benefits plan, contact your HR department or plan administrator for your free copy of the Summary Plan Description.
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