Retirement Plan Notice | Regulations | Ohio CPA Firm | Rea CPA

Who Gets What … And When?

It’s summer! And while everyone is enjoying fun in the sun, before you know it we will be knee-deep into retirement plan notice season.

There are so many notice requirements to keep track of and each notice has its own special purpose and timing. Sure it can get overwhelming, but before you find yourself breathing deeply into a paper bag, check out our Retirement Plan Notice Chart. Hopefully this tool will help you keep track of all the required notices, why they are important and when they are due.

Read Also: How To Measure The Success Of Your 401(K) Plan

Your Retirement Plan Notice Guide






Summary Plan Description (SPD)
Summary of the material provisions included in the plan document. Communicates the plan’s rights and obligations to participants.
Initially distributed 90 days after becoming a plan participant.
After a document  restatement cycle, plan sponsors are required to provide the SPD to all plan participants.
Summary Material Modification (SMM)
Summary of Material Modifications to the plan and changes in the information required to be in the SPD.
The SMM must be provided no later than 210 days after the close of the plan year for which the modification was adopted.
Automatic Enrollment
Explanation of participant’s right under an automatic enrollment plan.
Includes ACA, EACA and QACA
Initially distributed at least 30 days, but no more than 90 days before the employer automatically enrolls the employee. Notice must be given on date of hire for immediate eligibility.
The document should also be distributed annually at least 30 days, but no more than 90 days, before start of new plan year.
Safe Harbor
Notice that describes the primary features of the safe harbor plan’s design.
This document is initially provided to employees upon plan participation.
It is then provided to plan participants annually at least 30 days, but no more than 90 days, before start of new plan year
Enrollment Package
Material required to sign up for the plan.
This is provided to employees prior to plan participation.
Beneficiary Designation
Designates how a plan participant’s assets are to be distributed upon death.
Employees should receive a beneficiary designation form when they become a plan participant. This document is typically included in the enrollment package.
Salary Deferral Election
This form allows participants to set up their deferral elections.
Generally, the form is given to eligible employees just prior to the date they are eligible to participate in the plan.
Qualified Joint & Survivor Annuity (QJSA)
This document is required when the retirement plan offers an annuity option for payment.
Each participant should receive an explanation of the QJSA with their payment election materials after applying for a plan benefit. It should be provided in the 90-day period ending on their benefit commencement date.
Rollover Notice
Required for distributions from retirement plan.
Should be provided no less than 30 days and no more than 180 days before the distribution is to be made.
Summary Annual Report (SAR)
Contains financial information as well as other related information about the plan.
Should be given to plan participants two months after the filing date.
404a-5 Participant Disclosures
Participant fee disclosures.
Provided to the employee upon becoming eligible for the plan and at least annually thereafter.
Qualified Default Investment  Alternative
This is an investment vehicle a retirement plan may use for contributions in the absence of direction from the plan participant.
Distributed to all eligible participants at enrollment and annually thereafter.
Black Out Notice
Notification to affected participants of their restricted plan account access.
Provided at least 30 days and no more than 60 days prior to the date participants can last exercise their affected rights.
Benefit Statements
Individual statement reflecting the participant’s accrued and vested amounts.

Participant directed- quarterly

Trustee directed- annually

Dependable Delivery

Employers may issue these notices by utilizing methods such as:

  • First class mail
  • Certified mail
  • In-hand delivery at employee’s worksite
  • Electronically, as long as the employer satisfies the DOL Technical Release 2011-03R regulation.

Don’t miss these critical deadlines. Email Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Brigette Lafferty, QPA, QKA (Zanesville office)

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