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Is Plan Admininstrator Required to provide Copy of Plan Document upon request?


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Must the Plan Administrator provide a copy of the Plan Document (incl Amendments) if a Participant (Active or Terminated) submits a written request for it? And if so, may they charge a reasonable amount for it?

It is understood the Plan Administrator must make the Plan Document along with any Amendments available for inspection at the place of business.

It is also understood the Plan Administrator must provide copies upon written request of the most recent SPD+SMMs, 5500, and the Trust Agreement if requested.

In this instance, the Participant (actually terminated) wants a copy of the Plan Document.  The Participant has the most recent SPD/SMM, therefore it is my understanding the Plan Administrator may charge a "reasonable" fee if the Participant should request an additional copy of the SPD/SMM (maximum $0.25 per page, as set forth in DOL Reg Sec 2520.104b-30).

Thank you.

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Yes and yes, these ERISA rights must be listed in the SPD. I cut and pasted the applicable language from one of ours:

Obtain, upon written request to the Plan Administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the Plan, including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and updated summary plan description. The Plan Administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.

Kenneth M. Prell, CEBS, ERPA

Vice President, BPAS Actuarial & Pension Services

kprell@bpas.com

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32 minutes ago, CuseFan said:

Yes and yes, these ERISA rights must be listed in the SPD. I cut and pasted the applicable language from one of ours:

Obtain, upon written request to the Plan Administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the Plan, including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and updated summary plan description. The Plan Administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.

I recognize "copies of documents governing the operation of the Plan" however I asked because no where have I seen it specifically state the "Plan Document" in the portion that follows  ", including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) and updated summary plan description." which is "defining" what is meant by it (it being what you have in bold).  It seems to me it would state "the Plan Document" along with the other items stated if copies have to be provided upon request (no just be made available for inspection).

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Our SPD says:   (I think the bolded means adoption agreement and underlying plan document.)

1. Examine, without charge, at the plan administrator's office all documents governing the plan and a copy of the latest annual report filed by the plan with the U.S. Department of Labor.
2. Obtain copies of all plan documents and other plan information upon written request to the plan administrator (the administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies).
3. Receive a summary of the plan's annual financial report. The plan administrator is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of this summary annual report.
4. Obtain a statement telling you whether you have a right to receive a benefit at normal retirement age and if so, what your benefits would be at normal retirement age if you stop working under the plan now. If you do not have a right to a benefit, the statement will tell you how many more years you have to work to get a right to a benefit. This statement must be requested in writing and is not required to be given more than once a year. The plan must provide the statement free of charge.

QKA, QPA, CPC, ERPA

Two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left.

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Yeah, I think it's obvious as the Plan Document is THE primary document governing operation of the plan. Everything else is supporting, but could be useful to a participant and so included.

Kenneth M. Prell, CEBS, ERPA

Vice President, BPAS Actuarial & Pension Services

kprell@bpas.com

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Maybe it's just me, but it seems the question in the first sentence of the original post is answered by the remainder of the original post.  Perhaps, is there some unstated other question?

I'm a retirement actuary. Nothing about my comments is intended or should be construed as investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Occasionally, but not all the time, it might be reasonable to interpret my comments as actuarial or consulting advice.

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Also, regardless of what the law would require, if the Participant's Plan Document or SPD states that a copy of the Plan Document will be provided upon request, then it would need to be provided. People are often so focused on what the law itself either prohibits or allows that they forget to check the language of the document(s) at issue (not that the OP did this, I'm speaking solely from experience on that). 

JYo

NOTE: I am not a lawyer. The responses I provide on this forum are not legal advice or any other type of advice. My responses are my opinions only, based solely on my personal experiences to date. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. 

Participation on this forum requires that I provide replies to post inquiries. My posted responses may be entirely incorrect due to lack of information or knowledge; in such circumstances, it is not my fault because I am not a lawyer, and more importantly I’m not retained as your lawyer. If my responses on this forum are correct, however, please be advised that I’m super smart, because I knew the answer even though I am not an attorney. 

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Perhaps you are not arguing about this but simply seeking information, but I would never argue on this issue.  In my experience, a plan document request means a lawyer is somewhere in the background.  My suggestion would be to promptly supply the requested document(s) and have a friendly conversation about what is really going on in this situation.  Comments, accompanying the document, such as "Is there something about the plan or its operation that we can clarify/ assist with?"  "Is there a problem that needs attention?" may elicit a response that will enable you to solve a problem before it festers and grown into a legal situation for the plan sponsor or a firing situation for the TPA.

Patricia Neal Jensen

Vice President and Nonprofit Practice Leader

| QBI, an Ascensus company

21031 Ventura Blvd., 12th Floor

Woodland Hills, CA 91364

E patricia.jensen@QBILLC.com

P 818-449-6096

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Just wondering, is it reasonable to charge anyone for an electronic copy of the document, assuming the recipient is okay with that in lieu of paper?  Even if it's the two minutes to find it on a corporate server and type out the email address, "here you go", and click Send.

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