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Despite Amara Decision, SPD Can Set the Terms of a Plan (PDF)
Steptoe & Johnson LLPLink to more items from this source
Feb. 13, 2015
"Sometimes, particularly in welfare plans, documentation is rather informal, and important provisions, such as administrative discretion, subrogation, and procedures for submitting benefit claims and appealing denied claims, may appear only in the SPD. Does Amara render them unenforceable?... [A plaintiff] contended that the Supreme Court had drawn a clear line between plans and summaries of plans, with only the former being enforceable. The court's response was that (i) a plan without a plan document is impossible under ERISA, (ii) the plan document must 'specify the basis on which payments are made to and from the plan,' ERISA, Section 403(b)(3), and (iii) the only document that specified the basis of payments in this instance was the summary plan description. Hence, the summary was the plan." [Bd. of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan v. Montanile, No. 14-11678 (11th Cir. Nov. 25, 2014)]

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