Summary Plan Description (SPD) Toolkit

Resources to assist employers with the rules governing summary plan descriptions (SPDs) for employee benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This Toolkit also provides links to standard clauses containing model SPD language.

Practical Law Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ( (ERISA) requires plan administrators ( of employee benefit plans ( to give a summary plan description ( (SPD) to plan participants and beneficiaries. The SPD must describe their rights, benefits, and responsibilities under the plan in easily understandable language and must provide certain information, including:

  • The plan's requirements regarding eligibility for benefits.

  • A description of the benefits offered under the plan and when participants have a right to those benefits.

  • A statement about whether the plan is covered by termination insurance from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation ( (PBGC).

  • Procedures regarding claims for benefits and appeals processes for disputing denied claims.

SPDs must generally be provided to participants within 90 days of the date when they first become covered by the plan and to participants and beneficiaries every five years after the SPD is initially provided, assuming the terms of the plan have changed during that time. If the plan is amended before the next SPD must be provided, the plan administrator must provide a summary of material modification ( (SMM) summarizing any material changes in the plan terms within 210 days after the end of the plan year ( during which the plan was changed.

This SPD Toolkit contains continuously maintained resources designed to assist in drafting and reviewing SPDs for employee benefit plans, including model SPD clauses.


Practice Notes


Standard Clauses





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