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Who gets a copy of the SPD?

Guest ElKH

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A question so dumb, nobody's asked it it seems!

Do non-participating participants get a copy of the SPD, or is the requirement confined only to those who are actively participating, or those who are beneficiaries?

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ERISA §101 Duty of disclosure and reporting.

(a) Summary plan description and information to be furnished to participants and beneficiaries.

The administrator of each employee benefit plan shall cause to be furnished in accordance with section 104(b) [29 USC §1024(b) ] to each participant covered under the plan and to each beneficiary who is receiving benefits under the plan

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And in the regulations under Section 3 of ERISA, "participant" (for purposes of retirement plans) is defined as follows:

(ii) An individual becomes a participant covered under an employee

pension plan--

(A) In the case of a plan which provides for employee contributions

or defines participation to include employees who have not yet retired,

on the earlier of--

(1) The date on which the individual makes a contribution, whether

voluntary or mandatory, or

(2) The date designated by the plan as the date on which the

individual has satisfied the plan's age and service requirements for


So if you're talking about a 401(k) plan, all eligibles should get the SPD regardless of whether they are actually contributing.

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"Participant" would include terms with vested balances. The ERISA Section 3(7) definition of participant says:

"The term ``participant'' means any employee or former employee

...who is or may become eligible to receive a benefit of any

type from an employee benefit plan ..."

Once they have money in the plan, they are a participant until its distributed. The only question that is answered by the reg is at what point in time do you have to start counting employees who don't currently have any money in a 401(k) plan as participants (i.e., who "may become eligible")

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