The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires plan
administrators the people who run plans to give plan participants
in writing the most important facts they need to know about their retirement
and health benefit plans including plan rules, financial information, and
documents on the operation and management of the plan. Some of these facts must
be provided to participants regularly and automatically by the plan
administrator. Others are available upon request, free-of-charge or for copying
fees. The request should be made in writing.
One of the most important documents participants are entitled to
receive automatically when becoming a participant of an ERISA-covered
retirement or health benefit plan or a beneficiary receiving benefits under
such a plan, is a summary of the plan, called the summary plan description or
SPD. The plan administrator is legally obligated to provide to participants,
free of charge, the SPD. The summary plan description is an important document
that tells participants what the plan provides and how it operates. It provides
information on when an employee can begin to participate in the plan, how
service and benefits are calculated, when benefits becomes vested, when and in
what form benefits are paid, and how to file a claim for benefits. If a plan is
changed, participants must be informed, either through a revised summary plan
description, or in a separate document, called a summary of material
modifications, which also must be given to participants free of charge.
In addition to the summary plan description, the plan
administrator must automatically give participants each year a copy of the
plan's summary annual report. This is a summary of the annual financial report
that most plans must file with the Department of Labor. These reports are filed
on government forms called the Form 5500. The summary annual report is
available at no cost. To learn more about the plan assets, participants may ask
the plan administrator for a copy of the annual report in its entirety.
If participants are unable to get the summary plan description,
the summary annual report or the annual report from the plan administrator,
they may be able to obtain a copy by writing to the U.S. Department of Labor,
EBSA, Public Disclosure Room, Room N-1513, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20210, for a nominal copying charge. Participants should
provide their name, address and phone number to enable EBSA to contact them to
follow up on the request.
DOL Web Pages on This
Provides information to assist employers and employee benefit
plan practitioners in understanding and complying with the requirements of
ERISA as it applies to the administration of employee pension and welfare
Consumer Information on
Provides fact sheets, booklets, and other health plan
information from the Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration
EFAST ERISA Filing
The EFAST system streamlines filing and processing of
the annual return/report forms through the use of computer scannable forms and
electronic filing technologies. This Web site provides assistance on using the
Questions & Answers:
EFAST ERISA Filing Acceptance System
Provides answers to commonly
asked questions about the EFAST system.
Health Benefits Under the
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) (PDF)
workers and their family members who lose their health benefits in certain
circumstances the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by
their health plan. This publication provides a detailed overview of the
How to File a
Claim for Your Benefits
Provides advice to participants about how to
file a claim for benefits and what to do if the claim is denied.
Obtain Employee Benefit Plan Documents from the Department of
Describes the documents and materials available through the EBSA
public disclosure room and how you can obtain the documents from them.
Pension & Health Care Coverage...Questions & Answers for Dislocated
Provides answers to commonly asked questions by dislocated
workers about their pension and health benefits.
Question & Answer
Guide: Filing the Form M-1
Provides questions and answers about Form M-1
Annual Report for Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs) and Certain
Entities Claiming Exception (ECEs).
Provides information about major provisions of the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Newborns' and Mothers'
Health Protection Act, the Mental Health Parity Act, and the Women's Health and
Cancer Rights Act.
Top 10 Ways to
Make Your Health Benefits Work for You (Español)
Provides ten tips to help
make your health benefits work better for you.
Women's Health &
Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA)
The WHCRA contains protections for patients
who elect breast reconstruction in connection with a mastectomy. This fact
sheet provides a brief overview of the law.
Require Health Choices (Español)
Provides information on
making health care decisions when your work life changes.
Bankruptcy: How Will it Affect Your Employee Benefits?
information about bankruptcys effect on pension plans and group health
Frequently Asked Questions for
Plan Sponsors, Fiduciaries, and Service Providers Related to the Events of
Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions
by plan sponsors, fiduciaries, and service providers whose pension and health
plans were impacted by the events of September 11, 2001.
Frequently Asked Questions for
Plan Sponsors Related to Filing Relief
The Employee Benefits Security
Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty
Corporation have extended the deadline for filing the Form 5500s and Form
5500-EZs as a result of the events of September 11, 2001. These questions and
answers provide general information about the filing relief.