"For Welfare Benefit plans there normally is a Form 5500 filing requirement exception if not a MEWA or 'Certain Entities Claiming Exception (ECEs),' per page 3 of the 2021 instructions, bottom right item:
'1. A welfare benefit plan that covered fewer than 100 participants as of the beginning of the plan year and is unfunded, fully insured, or a combination of insured and unfunded, and which is not sbject to the
Some interpret the following 'Lines 5 & 6' instructions (page 18) to include active eligible employees to those who are participating (most full-time employees are eligible at the beginning of the plan year, during Open Enrollment, while new hires also can be eligible as of the beginning of the plan year). Do you believe all active eligible employees also are counted?
description of "participant" in the instructions below is only for purposes of these lines.
An individual becomes a participant covered under an employee welfare benefit plan on the earliest of:
[i] the date designated by the plan as the date on which the individual begins participation in the plan;
[ii] the date on which the individual becomes eligible under
theplan for a benefit subject only to occurrence of the contingencyfor which the benefit is provided; or
[iii] the date on which the individual makes a contribution to the plan, whether voluntary or mandatory.
See 29 CFR 2510.3-3(d)(1). This includes former employees who are receiving group health continuation coverage benefits pursuant to Part 6 of ERISA and
who are covered by the employee welfare benefit plan. Covered dependents are not counted as participants. A child who is an "alternate recipient" entitled to health benefits under a qualified medical child support order (QMCSO) should not be counted as a participant for lines 5 and 6. An individual is not a participant covered under an employee welfare plan on the earliest date on which the individual (a) is ineligible to receive
any benefit under the plan even if the contingency for which such benefit is provided should occur, and (b) is not designated by the plan as a participant. See 29 CFR 2510.3- 3(d)(2).'
From my prior experience, the instructions for the 2019 and 2020 Forms
5500s are similar."