Top 3 reasons you need (and want) a summary plan description (spd)

Employee benefits are a critical component of talent retention, and providing clear information about these benefits is a legal requirement for employers. The Summary Plan Description (SPD) serves as a crucial document in this communication process. In 2024, the landscape is evolving, with an increased focus on compliance through audits. In this blog post, we will explore the top reasons you need (and want) an SPD and the essential requirements for creating an effective and compliant SPD.


1.       Creating and maintaining a compliant Summary Plan Description is a legal obligation (if you’re an employer that is subject to ERISA).

2.       In the face of expected increased audits in 2024, staying informed about regulatory requirements, regularly reviewing and updating SPDs, and ensuring accurate and timely distribution will be essential for organizations aiming to navigate the evolving landscape successfully.

3.       SPDs are a great way to concisely communicate all of the legal and informational benefit details to employees. 


Now that we have the top reasons for having an SPD, what are the key pieces of information that need to be in an SPD.


What is required information in the SPD?

   a. Plan Name and Identification

   b. Plan Administrator Information

   c. Plan Year and Amendment Information

   d. Eligibility and Participation

   e. Benefit Accruals and Vesting

   f. Benefit Calculations

   g. Funding Information

   h. Claims Procedures

   i. ERISA Rights

   j. COBRA Rights

   k. HIPAA Privacy Information

   l. Legal Compliance


What are SPD distribution requirements and accessibility rules?


Employers must distribute the SPD within specific timeframes, and given the increased scrutiny, adherence to these timelines is crucial. New employees should receive the SPD within 90 days of joining the plan, and existing participants should receive updated SPDs every five years. Employers should also provide a summary of material modifications (SMM) when there are significant changes to the plan. Providing the SPD in various formats, including paper and electronic, ensures accessibility. This is vital to guarantee that all eligible employees have access to the information, especially in the context of audits.


This is meant as a very high-level description of Plan Documents and SPDs.  If you are a current client of Rose Street Advisors, please contact your Relationship Manager to discuss your needs in greater detail.  If you are not a current client of Rose Street Advisors, please feel free to contact us at 269-552-3200 or to speak to someone.

Alicia Ball


As Strategic Operations Advisor, Alicia has the opportunity to lead the Employee Benefits Department every day. The focus of her role is to ensure the Department is operating at maximum efficiency, which allows us to ensure that our client’s needs and expectations are consistently exceeded. She accomplishes this efficiency through her strong communication, ability to maximize resources and staying true to Rose Street’s core values. Alicia’s tenure with Rose Street began in 2016 as our Maxwell Health Champion. She then spent time as a Employee Benefit Advisor where she built long lasting relationships with her clients that remain in place today even with her role change.

In her spare time, Alicia tries to keep up with her very busy son, volunteers as a Big Sister for the Big Brother, Big Sister organization, and makes sure to spend as much time outside as she possibly can.

Interested in more?

Proactive HR